A Bittersweet Anniversary for Costa Rica’s Tico Times

Betty Dyer's baby is no longer available in print.

Today marks the 60th anniversary of The Tico Times, an English-language weekly launched in Costa Rica under the tutelage of a veteran New York journalist. Elisabeth “Betty” Dyer had wound up in the country, with a young daughter in tow, after husband Richard Dyer traded the life of a reporter for a PR position with United Fruit Company.

From today’s look-back:

A group of Lincoln School seniors asked Dyer to teach them about journalism. Her response? She urged them to learn by doing, and the result was the first edition of the paper, published on May 18, 1956 with a newsstand price of ¢1.

Betty had been a trailblazer in New York journalism as the “first woman rewrite man” and p.m. editor for the New York Post, covering traditionally male beats including crime, labor and politics. Richard’s journalism career had included stints as the news editor of the Oakland Post-Enquirer in California and the AP assistant bureau chief in Río de Janeiro.

The couple’s aforementioned daughter, Derry, would grow up to become Tico Times editor and publisher. The print side of things faded away in the fall of 2012, undone by the disappearance of U.S. housing boom money and some poor decisions. But with the help of an Indiegogo campaign, the paper was reborn as a small, online outlet and keeps going today.

Another anniversary remembrance, from Derry, retraces the evolution of the print circulation department and the growth of the paper’s U.S.-Canada subscriber base. Derry’s letter is a reminder of just how drastically the logistics of the newspaper delivery business have changed.