Introducing the Santa Barbara Independent’s New Publisher

Brandi Rivera Takes the Reins from Joe Cole

Brandi Rivera at the <em>Independent</em>'s offices
Paul Wellman

In headlines across the country, we read how the internet has reportedly killed newspapers. As the newest publisher of the Santa Barbara Independent, I am happy to report that here at this publication, journalism—while it faces some very real challenges—is very much alive and kicking. And I intend to do my utmost to see that it stays that way.

Two years after I graduated from UCSB in 2006, I joined the Independent, where I found a staff of remarkably hardworking, dedicated people who supported one another like a family. It opened my eyes to the power and importance of journalism in the community we served. In the subsequent nine years, I have worked with these talented professionals. That shared experience underscored for me an obvious truth: The need for quality journalism is just as important now as it has ever been, if not more so. It has always been our strategy to defend the print edition while investing in a broader and expanded digital future. We will continue to experiment with new distribution channels and will keep our eyes peeled for innovative ideas emerging at other news organizations throughout the country. At the Santa Barbara Independent, our bottom line will always be quality journalism rooted deeply in our community.

One of the great mysteries in journalism, even among some experienced reporters, is exactly what a publisher does. My general duties include managing the day-to-day operations of all departments from sales to distribution of our paper. It does not include, however, the paper’s editorial department, which will continue to be led by Editor in Chief Marianne Partridge, the Independent’s cofounder. Specifically, I will work with all departments to increase revenue opportunities, build and nurture community relationships and—in tough times—find ways to control costs while maintaining a quality product. Since 2008, I have been performing many of those same functions, first as the Independent’s human resources manager, and more recently as its chief financial officer. I bring qualities from each of these roles to my new position as publisher and intend to maintain my in-the-trenches, get-things-done mentality.

As a free product, the Independent depends on our community to support journalism through advertising. Along with our advertising director, I will focus on providing solutions for advertisers that support their business needs, which in turn will help create a more vibrant Santa Barbara community. As we look to the future, our strategic plan will take all funding models into account. I believe the drastic predictions that journalism is dead results from the failure to consider imaginative business strategies that will guide publications through this exciting period of technical transitions

Finally, this would not be a proper letter if I did not acknowledge how lucky I am to be handed the reins by our outgoing publisher, Joe Cole, with whom I worked closely during his four years at the helm. Joe and the other members of the Independent’s board of directors entrusted me with this new responsibility, and it’s one I do not take lightly. Joe is returning to his law practice full time and will remain on our board of directors. He leaves the Independent in a strong position with an incredibly talented staff, the largest verified circulation in the county, and a large and growing readership. For the past 31 years, Joe and all the publishers before him, along with Marianne Partridge, have positioned the paper to be your must-read publication for news and entertainment—on newsstands every Thursday and online every day. I look forward to continuing this Santa Barbara institution for the next 30.


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