This week marks nine years at the helm of the Island Sand Paper for us. Last week we wrote of the newspaper business in general. This week, we’d like to focus on the Island Sand Paper in particular and renew our promise to be good stewards of the newspaper that Islanders call their own.
We knew at the start that this was no ordinary business. The Island Sand Paper has always been a community institution – a treasured forum – one that inspires a sense of community ownership. One that leads even those who may criticize us in public, to pick up a Sand Paper on Friday morning to see what’s in the Letters section or on the front page this week.
We believe that our job is to provide Islanders with unbiased information that they can trust. We try to be honest with readers, fair with advertisers and supportive of our community. We plan to continue doing all those things.
When we took the helm here, we promised responsibility and respect. Our responsibility is to report community news, to seek out the stories that Islanders want to read, to respect not only our readers but also the subjects of our stories. For instance, we publish obituaries, most of them at no cost as a community service, but we don’t cover funerals. We believe that people have the right to grieve in private. It’s about respect and dignity.
We promised to support local business. We believe in the power of a community to support its businesses. We want to contribute to the success of the entire business community of Fort Myers Beach. When one business succeeds, we all benefit.
As the only newspaper actually located on Fort Myers Beach, owned and operated by Islanders, we are committed to supporting Island events and organizations. We truly see our role as newspaper owners as one of support and facilitation of community betterment.
The Sand Paper covers more public meetings on the beach than any other media, without slant or prejudice. We’re proud of that coverage; we hope our readers utilize it to stay connected to their elected officials.
We provide an editorial each week. Not all weekly newspapers do. We see the editorial page as our one chance each week to share our opinion on a local topic. We focus on the subjects that Islanders are talking about. Sometimes we agree with local government actions, sometimes we don’t. Likewise with advertisers. We don’t skew our editorial opinion so that it reflects what will make the most people happy.
Sometimes that results in government officials, advertisers or readers being unhappy with us. Would you want it any other way? Do you want your local newspaper’s content “for sale” to the highest bidder, largest advertiser, most powerful political leader or loudest critic? We don’t think so.
We hope that in the last nine years we’ve met your expectations in our stewardship of this treasured Island resource. We promise to do our best to be good stewards in the future.
As Islanders ourselves, we are both humbled and proud to be a part of the one Island newspaper that is truly “By Islanders, For Islanders.”
Bob and Missy Layfield
Island Sand Paper owners