A paper with bite

by M. John Fayhee

The paper: The Taos Horse Fly is a 7-year-old monthly whose name says it all: Its stories sometimes leave bite marks.

Local media scene: Dominated by the long-lived weekly Taos News, owned by the same company that owns the Santa Fe New Mexican.

The story: "I lived here for 20 years, left for 10, then came back in 1998," says publisher Bill Whaley. "I ran into one of my old friends, who was then publishing a monthly newspaper called Geronimo. When he left, I took it over and renamed it. There were simply a lot of local issues that weren’t being covered. The local Democratic chairman was being investigated by the state over some subdivision violations. He had sued the News, and therefore they had stopped covering the issue entirely. Then there was the whole Taos Pueblo casino battle."

The battle plan: "We are famous for our three cultures. This is a place with family feuds that go back generations. I think we’re the only paper that truly understands that," Whaley says. "A lot of stuff here is done behind closed doors. We wanted from the outset to raise the political consciousness of Taoseños."

Notable stories: In 1999-2000, the Horse Fly doggedly followed an attempt by the Taos Pueblo to open a casino at the Kachina Lodge, right in the middle of town — an attempt that was eventually shot down in court. "The Taos News wouldn’t touch the story because it was deemed politically incorrect to call the Pueblo to task," says Whaley.

Advice: "You don’t have to be radical. In a world dominated by McDonald’s-type newspapers, people are hungry for real news," Whaley says. "Keep your emphasis on your community. A paper should be perceived as part of the community rather than just an extension of its publishers."

 

Twelve issues of The Taos Horse Fly are $15 for Taos County residents and $35 for "out-of-town friends." Send a check to P.O. Box 1135, Taos, N.M. 87571, or see www.horseflyonline.com.

This story is a sidebar to the feature

From the ground up

The Crested Butte News, a successful independent newspaper in a small Rocky Mountain town, has come full circle and is once again owned by a chain

 

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