Anchored by The Reader, Nebraska’s only nationally-recognized alternative newsweekly, Pioneer consists of 10 media channels — five print, five online — with an established market share in Omaha’s fastest-growing and active demographic and advertising segments and one of the most established, local freelance content provider networks. A total estimated audience exceeding 250,000 adults makes Pioneer the only non-traditional local media company in the top 10 by audience size, demonstrating proven growth since its start in 1992.
Pioneer’s seeds were first planted in 1991 by a group of college kids involved in Omaha’s nascent homegrown music and culture scene, leading to a non-profit monthly that broke away from the stale and conservative reporting found in traditional local media. That all-volunteer effort became Omaha’s third metropolitan newsweekly since WWII and the first to be accepted for membership in the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. The Reader’s first issue was published in February of 1994 by a group of five, including current publisher John Heaston, out of an apartment at 49th and Dodge. Things only grew from there.
Over the next decade-and-a-half, the paper endured a couple changes in ownership while a series of quality editors kept a keen focus on providing Omaha with cutting edge news and sharp cultural coverage, each issue complete with great writing, great presentation and the city’s most complete event listings. “With each paper, a better paper” became the motto and over time, The Reader gained the trust of Omaha’s residents and eventually established itself as a staple of the city in its own right. Operations also steadily improved, as for a time The Reader was published out of a train car that was attached to a brewery on 78th and Cass (1995) before it enjoyed stints at offices downtown (1996-1999) and in historic Dundee (2000-2007) until landing in its current location in the immigrant hub that is South Omaha.
Also during that time, The Reader’s parent company, Pioneer Publishing, diversified into fast-growing consumer and advertising segments, including: TheReader.com (2002) Today’s Omaha Woman (2003), under a publishing agreement with the Women’s Fund of Greater Omaha ABM Enterprises-The Leader in Latino Print Publications (2004) OmahaJobs.com (2005) Directorio Latino Sioux City (2007) OmahaCars.com (2009) Neighborhood News and MetroNeighborhoodNews.com (2010) DishOmaha.com and OmahaJobs.com Job Fairs (2011).
Over the past 17 years, The Reader has published well over 25,000 stories, thanks to contributions from hundreds of creative individuals. In addition to event listings, edgy feature stories and vigorous coverage of Omaha’s music and arts scenes, staples of the magazine include an alternative health column by Michael Braunstein, a local music column from Tim McMahan and a mysterious horoscope written by local blues artist MoJoPo. We are publishing nearly 17,000 copies each week that are distributed to roughly 650 delivery points. Other Pioneer publications such as El Perico and Today’s Omaha Woman have also expanded their presence in Omaha over time.
The focus on the future is now. We launched a revamped website (TheReader.com) in November 2010 that provides Omaha with unique access to the printed paper’s content as well as online exclusives and blogs. Smart phone apps are right around the corner, too. The experienced in-house staff and enthusiastic contributors that make up our Reader team are prepared to continue providing Omaha with the same honest, thorough and provocative coverage of the city’s culture and news as we transition into the age of new media. But whether you’re flipping through our pages or tapping around on your phone or tablet, we hope you’ll keep reading. It’s an exciting time to be in Omaha. It’s an exciting time to be a part of The Reader.