Our American legacy

We, here at Durango Telegraph central, braced ourselves for a whopping recoil last week. In case you missed it (most apparently did), the Telegraph carried an American Legacy Firearms insert on June 19. When 5,000 glossy images of a Ruger .44 Magnum come out of the holster, into the “local hippy rag’s” center spread and onto the streets of Durango, a strong backlash is usually not far off

That’s right, we went into the firearms business last week, publishing an advertising supplement that offered two vintage guns up to a handful of lucky buyers. “The rich history of Colorado is shown in the intricate engravings done onto this functional replica,” the tempting text read. “The Wild West was never more alive!”

But strangely, the recoil never hit, and the angry return fire never entered my in-box.

In fact, the closest thing I heard to criticism was a, “Hmmm, that’s strange. How did this thing get in here?” (I also happened upon a stunned admirer whispering, “Wow, now that’s a beauty. What a sidearm!”)

Despite the missing uproar, we Telegraphers wrestled with the question of printing said insert for weeks. The item even came close to the reject pile (a thin stack occupied by a Right-to-Life ad and a second double-martini twins mockup). But we went to press, and I’ll now happily clarify why American Legacy came out of the gun cabinet and into each of our lives last week.

While the Durango Telegraph has always heeded the teachings of Mahatmas and MLK and stood firmly in the corner of nonviolence, we have never been, nor will ever be, anti-gun. I respect the right to bear arms, a vital clause our white-wigged forefathers penned shortly after gifting freedom to the press.

Plus, as you careful readers have certainly noticed, there’s always been a little redneck flavoring in our “commernist” pages. This is Western Colorado after all, and people do own guns in this state (including a certain Durango Telegraph editor who shall remain unnamed … but more on that later).

OK, now that we’ve got the basic freedoms and facts behind us, let’s get to the heart of the issue. “Do you guys really need the money that much,” is a statement we’ve heard in response to everything from the 2003 Fresh Beef ad (which depicted a couple of bovines in the throes of lovemaking) to the “Moms in Thongs” campaign (which drew the famous, but ultimately defeated, 2006 mini-boycott of the paper). In the present day, we just published a letter accusing the paper of compromised morals and a massive sell out. It’s true. We’ve been running paid advertising in our center spread (for shame!).

For the record, we started this paper zero score and six years ago because we saw a void in local media offerings. We wanted to put a fun, irreverent and insightful paper on the streets, while continuing to put bread in our respective children’s mouths (yep, Missy and I are in no way amorously involved). Despite some perceptions, there has never been a mythical pot of gold, a billion dollar family endowment or a Telluride sugar daddy underwriting this publication.

The truth is that we do “need the money that much.” This remains a functioning and independent Durango business, and it requires a stream of income to land in your hands each Thursday. Another truth is that we have managed to defy the odds as well as a media monopoly since our humbled beginnings in 2002. But quite honestly, the only secret to our success has been the subtle art of shoestring publishing.

With that in mind, the public is always welcome to come and take a tour of our palatial 600-square-foot world headquarters. Come join the paper’s editor/publishers on a thrilling and exotic morning of Thursday deliveries. Watch in anticipation as we take classified ads on Mondays and Tuesdays. Sit at the edge of your seat as we answer the most common of Telegraph questions – “Just how does a free paper make money, anyway?” – a secret that I will now divulge.

The people responsible for getting this paper into your hands are the advertisers – everyone from our first paid advertiser, Maria’s Bookshop, on down to American Legacy Firearms. The equation works like this: you, our gentle reader, pick up and enjoy the fruits of a free publication; you then spend your hard-earned cash in the businesses kind enough to support your Telegraph habit. The system has been functioning, with only a few stutters and bumps, quite admirably for nearly six years.

And with little to no recoil from last week’s insert, it looks like we’re all finally riding off into the sunset together brandishing our American Legacies. Advertising is just advertising, after all. And thanks to big support from our Durango businesses and a little leg up from a Fort Collins firearms dealer, it’s feeling like none of us will ever really have to sell out.

– Will Sands



In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows