By Islanders, For Islanders

197

We’re celebrating an anniversary this week. Six years ago, we bought The Island Sand Paper. We use this week’s editorial every year to renew our promise to be good stewards of the newspaper that Islanders call their own.

The last six years would not have been possible without the loyalty of our readers so they deserve a big Thank You. We must also send a big Thank You out to all who contribute with interview time, information requests and other story related support, so we can share accurate local stories with our readers. We appreciate your trust in allowing us to inform our readers, set the record straight and maybe even stop a rumor or two.

We also want to thank our advertisers. We are a free paper. Without advertisers, there would be no weekly Island Sand Paper, monthly Sand Life Magazine or FortMyersBeach.news. We know there are lots of options available for advertising dollars and we appreciate our advertisers’ choosing us. We ask readers to support those advertisers; let businesses know what paper they read for Island news and encourage businesses to advertise in the Sand Paper. Those ads support your favorite Sand Paper content.

Our Sand Paper family makes this newspaper possible – those smiling faces to the right. It takes the efforts of each one of these hard-working people to get the Sand Paper from story ideas to finished product each week.

We have taken the opportunity once each year to talk about who we are and how we do business and our anniversary is a good time to do that.

We operate on the premise of providing Islanders with unbiased information that they can trust. We are honest with readers, fair with advertisers and supportive of our community. We plan to continue doing all those things.

We know that the Sand Paper is not “just” a newspaper to Islanders; it’s a community institution – a treasured forum. We learned early on that our investment in this business only bought us the opportunity to serve as stewards of this Island resource.

We hope we’ve been good stewards in our readers’ eyes.

We promised responsibility and respect. Our responsibility is to report community news, to seek out the local stories that Islanders want to read, to respect not only our readers but also the subjects of our stories.

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 — not just our advertisers — the whole island. We know that when one business succeeds, we all benefit.

As the only newspaper actually located on Fort Myers Beach, owned and operated by Islanders, employing Islanders, we are committed to financially supporting Island events and organizations. We truly see our role as newspaper owners as one of support and facilitation of community betterment.

We want all Islanders to have a say in public decisions, whether they are made by the Town, County, Fire Board or Library Board. We cover 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 consistently urge residents to speak to their elected officials, asking questions and sharing their opinions, whether they agree with us or not.

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 newsworthy local topic. Our focus is on the subjects that Islanders are talking about. Sometimes we agree with local government actions, sometimes we don’t.

Likewise with advertisers. Sometimes we agree with our advertisers, sometimes we don’t. 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 know that some readers disagree with us on how a story is covered or on an editorial opinion. We encourage letters from our readers and print almost every one that we receive. Each week we publish our letter guidelines, which are in line with most newspapers.

We face challenges, as every business does — a new one this year. We own about 60 newspaper boxes, scattered around our distribution area to make the paper readily accessible to readers. Never lost a one in our first five years. Since spring 2015, we’ve had 21 of those boxes stolen. If your favorite box is missing, that’s why. We’re working to fix the problem and have offered a reward for information leading to a conviction. In the meantime, we’ll continue making sure that our readers have access to the Sand Paper.

We hope that in the last six years we’ve met your expectations in our stewardship of this treasured Island resource.

We are Islanders ourselves.

We are both humbled and proud to be a part of the one newspaper that is truly “By Islanders, For Islanders.”

 

Bob & Missy Layfield