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San José, Costa Rica

It's been 14 years of informing and trying to help
By Jay Brodell
editor of  A.M. Costa Rica

Saturday is the 14th birthday of A.M. Costa Rica.

The daily newspaper has been successful because of support by readers and advertisers. The staff and management are grateful to them all.

The newspaper began for what was supposed to be a daily calendar of events  just a few weeks before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. The crisis and confusion of that time forced the newspaper to adopt the role of informing residents and tourists here of vital information.

Since then the primary goal has been to keep informed expats and those from elsewhere with interest in Costa Rica. The newspaper's pragmatic editorial opinions have not always been praised, and frequently the news is not good for the country's image. But for too long the systemic problems of Costa Rica have been hidden under the journalistic rug.

Garland Baker and his insightful articles on real estate, legal changes and technology
have been important parts of the news report.

Reader contributions via letters and articles also have contained important information

Perhaps lesser known are the expat problems that the staff fields and sometimes resolves.

Merchants and readers like A.M. Costa Rica because the advertising performs well. This is an important part of the daily report because commercial messages pay the bills.

A.M. Costa Rica will continue to be free for readers even though some online newspapers have begun to charge for viewing the pages.

And the newspaper staff will continue to work with those who need to present effective commercial messages.

— Aug. 14, 2015

A.M. Costa Rica indisputably best read news site, data shows
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Published Jan. 14, 2013
A.M. Costa Rica is indisputably the best read online English-language news source in Costa Rica, according to Alexa, the company that keeps track of this type of data.

This Sunday Alexa said that A.M. Costa Rica was ranked at No. 93,888 in the world and No. 89 in Costa Rica. Facebook, Google and youTube continue in positions one, two and three in the world, according to Alexa.

The Tico Times had a 109,824 world rank and a rank of 226 in Costa Rica, according to Alexa.

A.M. Costa Rica showed a 10 percent increase in readers over the last seven days and a 5 percent increase over the last three months, said the company.

Alexa said that the readership of The Tico Times dropped 16.4 percent in the last month and went down 10.3 percent over the last three months.

All other English language Web sites in Costa Rica are far lower than The Tico Times by tens of thousands of positions. One supposed news site has a world rank of 1,669,979, said Alexa.

By contrast, La Nación, the leading Spanish language online news source in Costa Rica has a world rank of 8,343 and a Costa Rica rank of 8.

The comparison became possible because The Tico Times ended its print edition last Sept. 28 and now publishes only to the Internet, as A.M. Costa Rica has done since 2001.

Alexa measures Internet activity with an inferential statistical technique that counts visitors. Says the company:

"In addition to the Alexa crawl, which tells what's on the web, Alexa employs web usage information, which tells us what's being seen on the web by real people. This information comes from our community of Alexa Toolbar users. Each member of the community, in addition to getting a useful tool, is giving
back. Simply by using the toolbar, each member contributes valuable information about the web, how it is used, and what is important and what isn't. This information is returned to the community with improved related links, traffic ranks, and more."

Although publishers can manipulate Alexa in the short run, the general worldwide trends of Web pages are fairly solid.

A.M. Costa Rica also employes the paid services of StatCounter, an Irish firm which counts Web usages. Each page of A.M. Costa Rica contains a small bit of java code that alerts StatCounter when a reader downloads a page.

StatCounter reports that A.M. Costa Rica served up 38,251 pages to readers Thursday and 36,589 Friday. These were the last two days of publication. StatCounter also said that there were 13,115 unique visitors Thursday and 12,487 Friday.

A.M. Costa Rica advertising executives frequently encourage clients to sign up for StatCounter's free service for smaller Web sites so that the client can clearly see the impact of A.M. Costa Rica advertising.

When The Tico Times also maintained a print edition, the actual number of readers was unclear because there were Internet readers of the electronic site and readers of the paper product. The Tico Times did not make public a detailed report based on third-party accounting.

Readership numbers are important to advertisers who hope to market their products. Equally important is the demographics of the readers. Since the beginning, A.M. Costa Rica has attracted Internet savvy readers who most likely have disposable income for advertisers' products. In  addition perhaps as much as 60 percent of A.M. Costa Rica readers are outside this country, mainly in the United States, Canada and Europe, thanks to the reach of the Internet.

A.M. Costa Rica advertising executives also encourage potential clients to check the rankings of this newspaper and that of supposed competitors in order to make an informed decision.

From the editor
This makes 11 years providing a unique, daily news report

By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica celebrates its 11th birthday today. There are about 3,000 archived editions on the server that capture the surprises that Costa Rica has to offer.

Many think that this newspaper is for foreigners who do not speak Spanish. That is incorrect. Regardless of language ability, First World expats here represent a community that has special informational needs. The easy way to put out an online newspaper would be to copy and translate news stories from Spanish-language publications.

That is not what the A.M. Costa Rica staff does. Each news story contains information from original sources. And editors try to provide a unique news report each day tailored to the special needs of English-speakers.

There are some expats here who do not read A.M. Costa Rica. That's like ignoring the owner's manual on a new car. Good information is vital to adjusting to a new culture. Reporters and editors try to keep that in mind when seeking out news stories.

That's why this is the best-read online English-language news source in Costa Rica. A.M. Costa Rica consistently ranks among the world's top 100,000 Web sites. Tuesday, the newspaper served up more than 33,000 pages to readers, about half outside Costa Rica in as many as 90 countries.

Over the years there have been some consistencies. The
 newspaper has been late appearing several times due to electrical or Internet problems, but A.M. Costa Rica has never missed an issue. The pages always have been open to reader opinions. And nearly since the start of publication readers could find the thoughts and views of Jo Stuart in the Friday edition.

There have been changes. There are more pages and more special interest sections, like the calendar, food, lifestyle and five classified pages. There's even a crossword puzzle. Editors created Costa Rica Report to cover the breaking news provided by other publications. A news feed on Page 2 directs readers to news summaries and then to a translated version of the Spanish-language article. Editors recognize that the staff here cannot cover everything, and Costa Rican newspapers do a good job, too. Summaries and links represent a legal way to providing this information to readers.

Readers owe a large debt of gratitude to the newspaper advertisers who pay for the production of this free publication. Providing this level of news and features is a costly venture. But A.M. Costa Rica advertisers know that they will receive response.

The cost also is great for the staff. Employees, including an intern, have faced a criminal libel charge. As with many court cases here, this one took two years before being thrown out on a technicality. Those who write in Costa Rica face that danger, and staffers here face the threat of a malicious criminal case every day.

The response from readers makes this all worthwhile.
— Aug. 15, 2012

After 10 years of publishing, this is edition #2,571
By Jay Brodell
A.M. Costa Rica editor
(posted Aug. 15, 2011)
A.M. Costa Rica today marks its 10th birthday of providing a free news service to expats here and those with an interest in this country everywhere.

What the online newspaper is today is nothing that was envisioned 10 years ago. Back then the publication was seen as a sort of calendar for expat activities here and a few daily news stories to fill the large gap left by The Tico Times, which then and now still publishes weekly. The editors felt that The Tico Times would soon come out with its own daily news source, and that A.M. Costa Rica would become redundant.

There are two reasons why that did not happen. First, less that a month after publication started Aug. 15, 2001, terrorists crashed planes into the New York twin towers and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Tourist-dependent Costa Rica suffered the impact when plane flights were grounded. Tourists here could not go home. Would-be tourists could not arrive.

In addition, there was a general sense of impotence and anxiety among the U.S. and Canadian citizens here. A.M. Costa Rica did its best to inform its readers every day of developments and specific, related events in Costa Rica.

The second reason why A.M. Costa Rica survived was that The Tico Times declined to change its weekly online publication to daily for more than a year. By then, A.M. Costa Rica had more loyal readers and never yielded.

The growth has level off somewhat, but A.M. Costa Rica served up 36,064 pages to readers Friday, according to In 2010 the newspaper served up 9,372,113 pages to  3,549,508 unique visitors, according to the same statistical service.

The economic impact of A.M. Costa Rica cannot be ignored. The publication is read every weekday in at least 90 countries. Most advertisers have had their greatest success with this publication, even during the more recent lean times. Internet publication travels at the speed of light and sidesteps the expensive and highly technical production of a newsprint product.

The 200-year-old formula of combining news with advertising continues to be a great success, and readers owe their thanks to the advertisers whose payments support the free newspaper.

Economics is a key element of any business, but the first priority of A.M. Costa Rica is to look out for the welfare of expats. This newspaper was the first to stress the declining security in the hopes that the central government would react. That reaction has been slow in coming. Yet, daily readers certainly learned techniques to keep them safe, such as ignoring a flat tire on their rental car as they leave the airport.

There is perhaps no more of a clear example of A.M. Costa Rica intervention on behalf of a reader as the case of Roger Crouse. He was the Canadian bar owner in Playas del Coco who shot a man who came at him with a knife inside the establishment. The evidence was strongly in favor of self-defense, but prosecutors wanted a murder conviction. Never mind that the assailant had been removed from the bar earlier by the local police. Never mind that he told the police while being released a few hours later that he was going to go back and kill Crouse. Never mind that a bar employee and two tourists witnessed the incident.

Reporter Saray Ramírez Vindas believed that Crouse was being set up for a large indemnification of the assailant's family with the help of the justice system. The situation became more complex when prosecutors and judges learned of the continuing interest by a San José-based English-language newspaper. Eventually Crouse won acquittal, but his businesses in Playas del Coco were destroyed. Editors and Crouse believed he would have been railroaded without the newspaper's oversight.

The newspaper was less successful in the case of the Villalobos brothers. Anyone who has been in business knows that no legal firm can pay 3 percent a month on borrowed money. But the so-called Brothers did, and so did a handful of other high-interest operations, including Savings Unlimited.

The Villalobos operation fueled an economic bubble, and many North Americans sold everything they had to move to Costa Rica to be near the source of unparalleled wealth. Those were go-go times in Costa Rica as some investors would drop five-figure monthly cash interest payments on a continual party at local bars. The Brothers attracted characters as well as formerly hard-working investors.

That was until July 4, 2002, when Costa Rican law officers raided the Mall San Pedro office of Luis Enrique Villalobos Camacho and the chain of money exchange houses operated by his brother, Oswaldo.

Eventually Oswaldo was convicted of aggravated fraud, and his brother still is a fugitive. But even now some former investors believe that Banco Nacional and the government conspired to run the Brothers out of business. A.M. Costa Rica reporting drew telephoned death threats and letters from very unhappy individuals.

An example is this letter from a Canadian woman published in 2003:

Villlalobos rally
A.M. Costa Rica archivies
Michael J. Nystrom-Schut talks to a Teletica reporter amid assembled Villalobos investors who rallied in the San José court complex. Click HERE for original story and larger photo.
Sept. 11
Sept. 11, 2001, was a defining moment.
Click HERE to see original

“What I really can not understand is that the politicians appear to be acting on behalf of the banks and not the people who elected them. If they do not wish The Brothers to be in business, so be it, but at least allow the investors their money back. Otherwise they are just down right mean guys.”

The trial court decided that the Villalobos brothers were running a ponzi scheme. More than 6,000 investors suffered the loss of their money, and many failed to seek legal recourse because they were convinced that if the charges were dropped, Luis Enrique would return to pay them off.

More recently, news articles by Garland Baker, a business consultant, have been a big hit with readers.  He covers a broad spectrum of Costa Rican life, mostly from a legal or real estate point of view, in the hundreds of articles he has written. He also has helped privately many expats. The stories are online.

Over the 10 years this newspaper has hosted about a dozen interns, mostly U.S., Canadian and British university grads who wanted to improve their international knowledge and Spanish skills. Some continued to build a career in journalism. One became an academic, and another is a lawyer.

There have been many interesting news stories in the 2,570 individual editions.

Full-time employee Clair-Marie Robertson reported in 2004 on how the Instituto Costarricensee de Turismo spent $833,000 on a Web page but only logged just 80 reservations in two years. That was in 2004. She also was instrumental in forcing the tourism institute to take ownership of its Internet domain,, from the contractor who set it up.

Elise Sonray, an intern, was instrumental in warning tourists about a deal between a California telephone company and the Intstituto Costarricense de Electricidad that lets the private firm, BBG Communications, Inc., charge astounding fees for credit card telephone calls.

The newspaper also has helped keep expats up to date on new government levies, such as the luxury home tax and the new tax on corporations.

Immigration also has been an important topic. The newspaper reported on the way in which two prostitutes from the Dominican Republic managed to secure Costa Rican visas and then made the final payoff for the bribe at a back door of the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería itself in la Uruca. Less sensational was the continuing coverage of changes in the laws involving residency. In the 10 years there have been three separate laws in force.

Other stories address the lack of fire protection in some beach communities, police extortion, prostitution, the online gambling problems, fraud arrests, and highway problems.

Columnist Jo Stuart writes each Friday from the perspective of a long-time resident who really loves Costa Rica. Her liberal views frequently generate letters in response.

The success of A.M. Costa Rica has generated related publications. One is Costa Rica Report that describes key news stories from the Spanish-language press each day and provides readers with an English translation of the article.

There also is Medical Vacations CR, a site designed to help foreigners who are thinking about seeking medical care here. A.M. Costa Rica Archives provides a searchable collection of daily news stories. The CAFTA Report is designed for U.S. businesses that seek to work here and Costa Rican firms that seek contracts in the United States.

CR Business is a specialized site that tries to tackle the complexities of operating a firm here. There also is Costa Rican News that provides an online feed of A.M. Costa Rica top stories and stories about Costa Rica from around the world.

In development are a series of news sites covering the Heart of the Americas from Santo Domingo to Venezuela.

Some readers think that A.M. Costa Rica editors simply copy news stories from the Spanish press and translate them into English. Nothing could be further from the truth. Each local story in A.M. Costa Rica has been gathered and written by staffers here.

Sometimes the news stories are similar because La Nación and El Diario Extra rub shoulders with A.M. Costa Rica staffers at news events. And editors here receive the same press releases.

Taking material from the Spanish press is not defensible ethically. The same is true of republishing material that has been posted elsewhere. Sometimes readers send in a favorite story. But this newspaper cannot publish it without permission. To do so would be stealing.

Writing news from scratch can be dangerous. The newspaper already has survived one criminal libel accusation based on a news story.

Editors are very grateful of the support from the readers that we do receive. Some send photos or news items and provide background on local stories.

Here are some editorial positions of A.M. Costa Rica
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Published Sept. 14, 2009
Readers have asked recently what does A.M. Costa Rica stand for.

They mentioned that the newspaper only infrequently publishes editorial, so the attitude of the newspaper has to be picked up by osmosis through the various articles and emphases of the news.

So here are 20 editorial positions outlined by editors:

1. We want visiting tourists and expats living here to enjoy safe, happy lives. We oppose the rising crime rate, and try to publicize those criminal trends that may affect tourists and expats.

2. We want to protect those who make legitimate investments in this country. We oppose land invasions and other thefts, and think that the nation should pass tough laws to keep people from stealing land. We include in this the crooked notaries and others who steal land with false documents.

3. We think everyone who lives here should speak Spanish. Not knowing a language of the country where you live diminishes the experience.

4. We think everyone living here should be legal, whether they are pensionados, rentistas, residentes permanente or in some other category. Being a perpetual tourist puts the individual at risk for deportation and loss of property.

5. We think Costa Rica should change its immigration laws to accommodate young people who want to work here for a time.

6. We think U.S. expats living here should have the benefit of the U.S. Medicare program if they are qualified and are forced to pay for it.

7. We think U.S. veterans here are treated badly by the government they served when it comes to health care.

8. We think the U.S. Embassy officials should start worrying about how to better serve Costa Ricans and U.S. citizens.

9. We think that the United States should eliminate the
need for a visa simply for a foreigner to change planes there.

10. We think that 80 to 90 percent taxes on importing automobiles is confiscatory, and we think that legal expats should be able to import a vehicle without paying taxes.

11. We think that sex tourism is morally wrong and demeans those who participate and those who stand by in silence.

12. We believe that crime victims have human rights, too, and that those committing violent crimes and crimes with weapons should get at least 20 years without possibility of parole.

13. We think that there should be more child labor instead of less, and that every child should have chores or work suitable for his or her age.

14. We think that the Costa Rican bureaucracy should be cut by half and a lot of public employees should find real jobs instead of patronage position in institutions with great names but little responsibility.

15. We think that Costa Ricans frequently are exploited when they go shopping and that major products should give full disclosure on manufacture costs, import fees and retail markup.

16. We think that a president should be able to run for office again  and that the people should be able to vote on the president's achievements and either endorse or repudiate him or her.

17. We think that males are subject to judicial discrimination in this society.

18. We think that polluting the rivers and streams should be a crime and that the current sewage situation is a disgrace.

19. We think that required social payments by employers are too high and limit jobs.

20. We think that employers who fail to pay the required Caja charges and other mandated fees should go to jail.

What have we missed?  Feel free to let us know with a letter to

A.M. Costa Rica at age 8 a useful tool in financial crisis
By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica staff
Published Aug. 14, 2009
Saturday is the eighth birthday of A.M. Costa Rica.

The publication originally was conceived as a small Web site to provide daily local news for expats here. Now the publication has developed other titles, and A.M. Costa Rica is the leading English-language voice in Central America and perhaps most of Latin America.

There was a thirst for local news when the first Web pages went up Aug.15, 2001. There also was no way for an advertiser to obtain that necessary daily repetition in presenting a commercial message to the public. There was little effort by the existing news outlets to rock the boat. Crime was grossly under reported. So were the intricacies of real estate purchasing and investing.

To some extent A.M. Costa Rica was swept up by the needs of expats here and the majority of its readership who lives in other countries.

Today A.M. Costa Rica gets more than 5 million hits a month and serves up about 1.2 million pages of news and advertising a month to from 4,000 to 5,000 readers a day. The statistics are compiled by the newspaper's own Web hosting company, the firm and Alexa, the Amazon affiliate and they are available for the asking.

Unlike some Web sites, the news in A.M. Costa Rica is generated by the newspaper staff from original sources and not lifted from Spanish-language publications. That way the news report can be tailored for the pressing needs of the moment of expats and others.

The newspaper and its corporation have been successful in profiting even during the current times of economic crisis. Savvy business people know that they must advertise heavily in tough times to reach the fewer available customers. They also know that the market will come back, and those firms that have held their ground will be the industry leaders.

A.M. Costa Rica has tried with some success to accept advertising only from honest sources. It has not always been successful, but the advertising management will aggressively investigate reader complaints. The newspaper has declined to renew advertising for some customers based on reader complaints.

Those who do entrust A.M. Costa Rica with their advertising campaigns are surprised at the effectiveness. That is why the majority of advertisers are repeat customers. They also are surprised at the reasonable cost.

Print newspapers are in trouble today because of high production and distribution costs. These expenses are
newspaper readership
 Newspaper readership about 11:15 p.m. Thursday as
 this issue went to the server.

passed on to the advertising customers who may be spending up to 75 percent of the advertising dollar for newsprint. With the modern miracle of the Internet, A.M. Costa Rica is in at least 90 countries every weekday morning at the speed of light. A computerized map shows online readers as they sign on and off around the world. The newspaper has a small but steady readership in Kabul and Baghdad, presumably U.S. servicemen who have eyes for tropical beaches once their tour is finished.

A priority for this newspaper is the protection of tourists and expats and their property. To some extent reporting here was responsible for the creation of the nation's tourist police by the litany of stories about North Americans being victims. Costa Rica still is facing a crime wave, but it appears that expats and tourists are better prepared to protect themselves, in part because of news stories here.

A.M. Costa Rica also appears to be the only newspaper that is writing about the unfair treatment of men in the judicial system. Much of that reporting is by Garland Baker, who lavishes extensive personal resources to get the facts. He is correct in pointing out that many of the country's laws unfairly favor women over men.

Jo Stuart, the weekly columnist, has her own personal readership of those who like her frugal approach to life here. She proves every week that a mature, single woman can do well in Costa Rica on a limited budget.

A.M. Costa Rica has given a start to a number of young journalists who trained in San José as interns. The newspaper has promoted a training dimension because no publication is better than the quality of its reporters and editors.

And then there is the advertising staff who are more capable every day in creating effective integrated marketing programs for advertisers.

October was a record-setting month in three categories for A.M. Costa Rica
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
(Published Nov. 19. 2008)
A.M. Costa Rica had another record month in October. Statistics from an independent source show that 61,545 unique visitors viewed 1,632,755 pages during the month.

This activity generated 5.1 million hits at the newspaper's server. The total hits, the number of pages delivered and the total visits, some 152,196, are records. The number of unique visitors is exceeded only by the 64,090 logged in the month of May.

The total number of visits is verified by another statistical program under the control of the newspaper staff which logged 167,101 total visits during the month. The different numbers are the result of slight differences in the configurations of the statistical programs.

By comparison, the number of pages read by visitors in October is 164 percent greater than those read in October 2005.

A.M. Costa Rica maintains its monthly statistics in public for the benefit of readers and advertisers. A full list is HERE! Most advertisers are aware of the volume of readership by the favorable responses to their ads.

The statistics report is important because it demonstrates continued interest in Costa Rica by those outside the country, despite challenging economic times. The newspaper is read in at least 90 countries every day Monday through Friday, and an average of 51 percent of the readers are in the United States.

Unique visitors are those who are counted just once no matter how many times they visit the newspaper Web site 
Here is how we have grown
in the last three years!

Pages read
October  2008
5,075,907 152,196 1,632,755
October 2005
3,192,660 110,441 618,370
Percent increase

in a 24-hour period. A hit is generated every time a file, text, photo or other graphic, is sent from the server to a reader's computer.

Some Web sites are set up to generate excessive numbers of hits because readers have to click four or five times to read a news story. A.M. Costa Rica is not designed that way, and news stories are served up with each page.

The newspaper continues to receive praise from readers because of its extensive coverage of Costa Rican news and of news elsewhere related to Costa Rica. Advertisers also have expressed their pleasure because of their marketing results and because they do not have to spend 50 percent or more of their ad budget to purchase newsprint. They also have said they appreciate the interactivity of their advertising and the instant responses they receive electronically from potential customers.

A.M. Costa Rica is free and on the Web Monday through Friday by 2 a.m. San José time. Nearly 3,000 readers keep in touch with the daily headlines via the separate daily digest that is sent with appropriate links as an e-mail each morning. Readers can subscribe HERE!

A report to readers and advertisers
Readership increases during March and suggests greater world interest here

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
(Published April 2, 2008)
Readership for this newspaper continues to grow, and statistics suggest that persons in other countries continue to have interest in Costa Rica as a vacation and retirement destination.

According to statistics from the newspaper's server, there were a record number of unique readers, 58,318, during March. Unique readers are those that are counted just once each day. In April 2007, the next highest month, there were 58,049.

The 4.5 million hits in March were a record, too. Hits were 4.6 percent higher than February and 21 percent higher than March 2007 when there were 3.8 million hits. A hit is when the server sends out a Web page, a photo or some other type of file.

The upturn is good news because readership has been relatively flat over the last year, perhaps due to economic problems in the United States. More than 60 percent of the this newspaper's readership is outside Costa Rica.

The newspaper has shown a 34.7 increase in readers in the last three years and a 201.3 percent increase in the numbers of pages reader by visitors each day, according to the March statistics. Newspaper statistics are available HERE!

The increases come at a time when readership of printed newspapers is declining. Some analysts are even talking about the disappearance of printed products in the next 20 years. In part, this is due to the skyrocketing cost of printing and distribution and younger readers who have interests in computers.
Here is how we have grown
in the last three years!

Pages read
March  2008
4,539,092 133,790 1,197,184
March 2005
2,162,418 99,351 397,368
Percent increase
109.9 %

Internet publications have hardly any distribution costs. There is no delay in publishing on the Internet, which is why A.M. Costa Rica can be in 90 countries every morning at 2 a.m. In fact, the newspaper staff has noted a small pocket of readers in Kabul and in Baghdad. These are likely servicemen and women with the armed forces there or diplomatic or international agency personnel.

Another advantage is that Internet publications usually do not spent extra money for color or movement on the pages. There also is instant response via Web page and e-mail links.

The statistics provided by the A.M. Costa Rica server are not under the control of the newspaper. Because the statistical program requesters hits, reader visits and page views, newspaper editors know exactly how many persons viewed a specific page or how many readers visited during a certain period. One problem with printed newspapers is that persons may buy or subscribe to a local paper but they often do not actually read it.

Most printed newspapers are audited by independent agencies to establish accurate circulation figures. But there is no way to tell if subscribers actually are reading the pages.

Three interns join A.M. Costa Rica to train for international journalism spots
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
(Published 11/20/07)
A British and two U.S. newswomen have joined A.M. Costa Rica as reporting and editing interns.

One is Helen Thompson, former news editor of gair rhydd, the Cardiff, Wales, University student newspaper. The Hampshire native has had extensive experience writing for British newspapers and a magazine as well as two Chinese publications.

From Anchorage, Alaska, came Elise Sonray, a graduate of Fordham University in New York.  She worked for student publications, including The Wagnerian Newspaper, the student publication of Wagner College, in Staten Island, N.Y., and MSNBC in nearby New Jersey.

The second U.S. citizen is Anne Clark, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University there. She is an award-winning photographer with experience in film and in the arts with a strong interest in sports.

Miss Clark taught in Puerto Cortes, Honduras. Miss Sonray spent time in Ecuador, and Miss Thompson most recently lived in Guatemala.

All three are seeking to improve their Spanish language abilities and to concentrate on reporting and editing in a Latin American country.

In addition they will be exposed to newspaper administration, marketing and other knowledge that will
three interns at A.M. Costa Rica
A.M. Costa Rica/Anne Clark
Newspaper interns Elise Sonray, Helen Thompson and Anne Clark on the job in the Gulf of Nicoya.

prepare them for eventual management responsibilities in their home countries or in Latin America.

The year-long internship program is designed to introduce promising English-speaking newspeople to Latin America so they can serve as a bridge between the developed and developing world. More than 100 persons applied for the program. Applications for the 2008-2009 internship program will be sought in June and July.

This is the fourth class of interns hosted by A.M. Costa Rica. Those who successfully completed the program are now at work in journalism jobs

Time to put six candles on the A.M. Costa Rica cake
By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica
(published 8/15/07
It's happy birthday to us again. With this edition, A.M. Costa Rica marks six years of continuous publication.

We are happy to report business is looking up, and there is a very high probability that your free morning news report will continue and even get better. That is our goal.

The newspaper has witnessed many changes. The paper was founded just a few weeks before the horrific terrorist attacks in the United States. That was a body blow to Costa Rica, its tourism and exports. Little more than a year later Luis Enrique Villalobos closed up his  high-interest operation, a business that has been declared a ponzi scheme by judges who recently convicted his brother for fraud.

The collapse of the Villalobos empire changed forever the U.S. citizen economy here. The collapse ruined lives, 
health, marriages and any number of other business and personal relationships. Only later did we learn how deeply the financial tragedy cut.

A.M. Costa Rica was the continual target for our even-handed treatment of Villalobos. But many of those souls have left to be replaced by U.S. citizens who came here for more than to collect a monthly cash envelope.

Now we're are on the verge of a flood of retirees from the United States, Canada and western European countries.

In just six short years, the face of the Central Pacific and Guanacaste changed dramatically and, some say, not for the best. The challenge for the future is quality development.

We hope to continue to bring our readers the daily information that is necessary for making informed decisions, and  hope to continue to be an economic engine for those who recognize the value of advertising with us.

A.M. Costa Rica turns 5 with thanks to readers

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
(Published 8/15/06)

Five years ago today the first issue of A.M. Costa Rica appeared to nearly zero readers and with no advertisers.

Now, five years later, the Internet daily is welcomed into thousands of homes each weekday morning, and advertisers have found that the newspaper is a key element in building their businesses.

The daily was initially envisioned as a bulletin board for club meetings and local events. But Costa Rica is so interesting to the outside world and so full of news that the demand for more depth came quickly.

Less that a month after the first edition, terrorists launched their attacks on the United States, and this daily news source was vital to alert readers to local activities and memorial services.

Since then the newspaper has covered two presidential elections and hundreds of stories of good and bad news about expats. The Internet server contains nearly 1,400 pages, including every edition produced. Everything is online and searchable.

The newspaper welcomes only advertisers who seem to promote the best interests of the readers.
The newspaper still does not accept personal ads, advertising for online casinos or what maybe termed adult advertising. The company refuses to be a stimulus for sex tourism.

With age the newspaper grew: from two pages a day to four or five newspages today. There still is a long way to go to meet the individual needs of readers, and there are readers in about 80 countries.

The overriding concern has been to protect expats and tourists. Many stories have alerted tourists to the scams and tricks criminals play to steal and rob. Many stories have described flaws in the nation's property registry system and how owners can protect holdings.

Each day the e-mails bring questions and concerns from all over the world. Outside the newspages, editors try to answer these questions and provide references for professional services.

Writers are not shy about taking a humorous and irreverent look at Costa Rican society, particularly politics. And if Costa Rica has anything, it has great material for humorists.

Costa Rica will continue to evolve, and editors hope that A.M. Costa Rica will keep pace. They also know that the success, both professional and financial, has been because of the readers.

Newspaper continues its spectacular growth in 2006
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
(Published Feb. 2, 2006)
This daily online newspaper had another record month in January, and statistics show that both hits and pages read increased more than 320 percent over January 2004.

The increases come at a time when print-based newspapers are suffering readership declines all
over the world.

Total readers doubled in the two years from 51,351 to 119,746 in January 2006. That's a 133 percent increase.

The statistics are provided by an independent computer program at the newspaper's server.

The statistics show that readership in January exceeded both the December 2005 totals and the October 2005 totals. Both those months were records at the time.

The dramatic readership increase can be attributed to a superior English-language news report and very effective display and classified advertising.

Increases in readership of online newspapers is not unique to Costa Rica. The National Newspaper Association measured double-digit increases in a U.S. study released last year.

A.M. Costa Rica statistics also show that readers stick
Month Hits Readers Pages read
January 2006 3,795,316 119,746 894,111
January 2004 896,081 51,351 212,565
Percent increase +323.5% +133.2% +320.6%

with the newspaper. The average reader views 7.5 pages in each visit, the data said.

The readership of A.M. Costa Rica is mostly an adult group, many seeking to move or retire to Costa Rica. The readership is upscale, too, because those who look at the newspaper know how to use a computer and usually own one.

Only about 25 percent of Costa Rican homes have personal computers, but perhaps as many as 70 percent of the homes occupied by English-speaking expats have computer access.

Advertiser reports also support the effectiveness of A.M. Costa Rica as a marketplace. Anecdotal reports say ads in this online newspaper outpull old time newsprint ads two and three to one. Advertisers also like the free color, movement and instant responses that online marketing provides.

Advertisers also like the prices because an old-time paper newspaper can spend up to 70 percent of the cost of an advertisement just for newsprint. Plus they can't correct errors after the ink is applied.

A.M. Costa Rica, April 5, 2005
Our readership more than doubles in one year
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A.M. Costa Rica set another readership record in March when the newspaper registered 2.16 million hits. That was a 22.9 percent increase over February and a 106 percent increase over March 2004, the first month the newspaper exceeded a million hits.

Other statistics had similar increases.

Some 397,368 individual pages were viewed by 99,351 readers. And 45,435 of those readers were registered as unique, which means they were only counted once regardless of how many times they visited the pages in a single day. 

The statistics are maintained by the Internet service provider in the United States where A.M. Costa Rica is hosted. The hosting company keeps track of visits independent of A.M. Costa Rica.

The statistical programs screen out hits and visits by mechanical means, other computers and automated Web crawlers.

The statistics show that the average viewer sees about four pages at every visit to the paper. 

Said Jay Brodell, editor:

"Our dramatic increase in readership over the last three and a half years is no surprise to our advertisers who are getting more and more business from the wave of retirees and would-be retirees who are looking at Costa Rica as a new home and need solid, daily information.

"ItÕs a new world, and our progressive advertisers recognize that."

A.M. Costa Rica statistics are available on a page that is updated every month HERE!

We surprise ourselves and reach 3rd birthday

By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica
(Aug. 15, 2004)

Sunday was the third birthday of A.M. Costa Rica, something that was as much a surprise to us as it is to others in the Costa Rican newspaper scene.

As much as we would like to blow our horn, the success of this newspaper is strongly dependent on the readers and the advertisers. The readers have made us the best-read English language news source for Costa Rica, and the advertisers have paid to present their services or products to the readers and help us grow.

There still are expats in Costa Rica who do not have a computer or who are not comfortable reading the news there. But these are in the minority and probably do not represent the progressive citizen who interests an advertiser.

The newspaper was born less than three weeks before the terrible terrorist attacks on the United States. The tragedy and its fallout continue to reverberate here. It was clear from that day that Costa Rica needed a daily news source.

Less than a year later investigators raided the offices of the Brothers Villalobos high-interest investment operation. The raid and subsequent closure of the firm caused lasting effects on the economy here. Not helping was the collapse of a handful of other similar firms. The series of episodes cost expats here hundreds of millions of dollars. 

We did our best to keep readers informed. Many became upset when we offered rewards for information leading to the capture of fugitive Luis Enrique Villalobos and Luis Milanes. We got death threats and a lot of angry e-mails and telephone calls.

A lot of those callers probably realize now that they should have chipped in a few dollars to fatten the reward. Both men still are fugitives, as is the expatsÕ money.

Although this is a Costa Rican corporation, one of our mandates is to help North Americans, expats and tourists alike. We have aggressively followed criminal cases in which North Americans were the victims or the accused. 

We also are publishing a series of articles that help expats understand the complex Costa Rican real estate and business scenes.

When we started this enterprise we said we thought there was a lot of news of importance to expats that never got reported. We think that we have proved our point, and we will continue to do so. As we grow, we hope we do a better job. 

The main goal for the next three years is to establish A.M. Costa Rica as source that is the first choice of English-speaking readers and advertisers. ItÕs OK to speak Spanish and still read A.M. Costa Rica. Expats, be they monolingual or bilingual, have need of information that is different from native-born Costa Ricans.

We intend to continue to fill that niche.

We reach a million hits on the Internet
(Published 4/1/04)

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A.M. Costa Rica posted a record in March when the newspaperÕs Web pages received more than a million hits.

The exact total was 1,051,118, according to an independent statistical at the newspaperÕs Maryland server site. The program also monitored 242,156 viewings of individual Web pages.

For the month, there were 64,692 persons who spent significant time visiting two or more pages of the online newspaper. That, too, was a record. That total works out to about 3,200 persons who read each daily edition.

The newspaper debuted Aug. 15, 2001. The previous record of Internet hits was in January 2003 when 908,726 hits were logged. The March total represents a 15.6 increase in readership.

Actually, the newspaper probably received more than a million hits in January and February, too, but problems at the server, perhaps caused by several flurries of junk e-mail and viruses, put the statistical program out of operation for several days in each of the months.

The dynamic increase in readership is good news for savvy business owners and readers who use A.M. Costa RicaÕs advertising services. The newspaper boasts of delivering advertising at the speed of light.  But the advertising rates are based on a far lower readership, editors said.

Full statistics are linked, as always, via a box on Page One to this location: Our Stats.

A.M. Costa Rica after one year

By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica
(published Aug. 15, 2002)

We were thrilled by the response from readers all over the world after we asked for birthday greetings. DonÕt forget to check out our birthday wishes.

The newspaper's first birthday is a happy time for us. But it also is a time to consider where we have been and where we are going.

We started the newspaper only a few weeks before terrorists attacked New York City and Washington. We believe those attacks quickly showed we were correct when we said that Costa Rica needs an English-language daily newspaper to help foster a sense of community among the foreign residents here. 

Since then we have imperfectly filled our mandate by providing professionally reported news of interest to our readers. We also discovered that we were correct when we said that a great deal of important news was not being provided. So did our meteoric growth in readership.

Where would you have heard of Roger Crouse, the Canadian from Playas del Coco in jail for a year for basically exercising his right to self defense?

Where would you read of the continuing threats to tourists as they walk through downtown San José.

Where would you read Jo Stuart each week as she finds hidden relationships between seemingly unrelated situations?

Where would you find our unique daily report of Latin American news.

As Costa Rica continues to experience difficult economic times, we promise to work harder. We also promise to continue providing original reporting. A.M. Costa Rica news stories are not lifted out of the Spanish-language press. We have a lot of respect for San José newspeople, but not so much that we would publish their news stories. And we believe that taking stories without permission from another source is stealing.

As it turns out, we work shoulder-to-shoulder each day with the Spanish-language reporters, and we consider them our competition. There is no reason that English speakers here should not have a news outlet as accurate and as up-to-date as La Nación or Teletica.

A.M. Costa Rica also is a training ground for English-speaking  university graduates who wish to learn Latin culture and international journalism. In 10 years we hope international reporting from Latin America will have a large contingent of our alumni.

In addition to me, the owners of A.M. Costa Rica are Sharon Brodell, my wife, and Saray Ramírez Vindas, our Costa Rican associate and friend. We appreciate your support over the last year. We promise to do better. And we are always open to your suggestions.

Technical stuff:

The publication is being done on a Macintosh iMac computer with Netscape Composer as a HTML assistant. There are other better programs, but the goal of A.M. Costa Rica is simplicity because Internet connections in Costa Rica, thanks to a government monopoly, are slow and uncertain. At times of peak use, about 9 a.m. and between 4:30  p.m. and 6:30 p.m., a typical page from this publication may take from two to five minutes to load on a remote computer in Costa Rica.

This also is why we have limited the use of complex programming techniques. 

The publication is best viewed with Netscape Navigator because Microsoft Explorer pretty much does what it wants with font information. 


We are not going to share bulk e-mail addresses, telephone numbers or other information with anyone who is not connected with A.M. Costa Rica. We would never provide names and e-mail addresses of readers to a list broker or others involved in online commerce.

However, We will put e-mail addresses as contact information in classified advertising unless the advertiser specifically requests that the e-mail address not be included.

Naturally, A.M. Costa Rica, as any newspaper would, will use names, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses collected through its daily operations as contact information needed to write news stories and to conduct limited solicitations for advertising.

Some programs out there lift e-mail addresses from our Web pages. Other program send out unwanted e-mails using random return addresses. If you get an unwanted commercial message from A.M. Costa Rica, it is a forged message. We do not do that. We also do not send out vast quantities of unsolicited e-mails.


Material published in A.M. Costa Rica is copyrighted under U.S., Costa Rican and international law. Anyone needs our permission to use any of the material. We will be liberal in giving permission to commercial and non-commercial entities.

Absent our approval, persons not connected with the newspaper must follow strict copyright guidelines.


A.M. Costa Rica is published from our server in the United States. Any disputes shall be adjudicated according to U.S. law, specifically that of the State of California where our Internet provider has its facilities.  


Our readership statistics usually are available from a link on the lower righthand side of Page One.

How to contact us

In San José we are located in Barrio Otoya, one of the distinctive sections of the city with restored older homes just two blocks north of Casa Amarilla, the foreign ministry.

Our address in Costa Rican terms is: 

San José, Barrio Otoya,  Avenida 11,
de  Hospital Calderón Guardia, 175 metros oeste, Edificio El Teral, #1335,
Piso 3, No. 4

Our telephone number is: 

In San José:


From the North America, the full telephone number would be


Our editor's e-mail address is

For payments: 

We take deposits at Banco Nacional in our corporate name: Consultantes Río Colorado S.A.:

  dollars: 100-02-000-617222-5
  colones: 100-01-000-213071-4

(at the current rate of exchange)

Our Pay Pal payment address there is

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