There are dozens of beautiful seaside towns in our state. Each one different from the next – each with something that draws residents and visitors to that spot on the map. Here in Fort Myers Beach, you’ll hear over and over that it’s that view of the Gulf at the top of the bridge as you head onto the island. The turquoise water, the bright parasails dotting the sky, the boats, the white clouds against a azure blue sky, the colorful buildings – it all comes together to create an ‘Ahh, I’m home in Fort Myers Beach’ moment.
That shared sense of home is part of what makes living in our community so special. We all want a place that feels like home, a place where we are part of the fabric of the community. A place where we are involved in the community and where we seek to know our neighbors, not avoid them.
A strong community is not built and done with. A strong community is dynamic; it requires ongoing effort from everyone within the community – a commitment to nurture the bonds that we build and to add the threads of new members of the community to the community’s fabric, making it stronger.
A key part of any community is its community newspaper – the place where people share ideas, introduce new concepts, agree and disagree with ideas, announce fundraisers, ask questions, sell their boat, laugh at jokes and learn when the next concert is.
We hear the old canard that newspapers are dying all the time. A few large dailies have died, true, but newspapers, especially community newspapers, are thriving.
Community newspapers serve the micro-communities or neighborhoods of our nation, offering the local news and information that the big dailies and network television does not. Rely on those news sources here and you’d only hear about Fort Myers Beach when someone dies or something awful happens. They have a huge geographical area to cover and our island is just one tiny part and frankly, their mission is different than ours. Our mission is to support this community, sharing its news, events and people with our readers. We live here; we work here; we know the people here.
Newspapers have grown far beyond the newsprint product. Even those who never hold newsprint in their hands, have newspapers to thank for that online report they just saw, the social media link or the source of that the television news story. Newspapers are so much more than newsprint these days. The word ‘newspaper’ no longer accurately describes the media industry that has grown from the original newsprint product.
Even a small community newspaper like the Island Sand Paper is a multi-media news company. In addition to the weekly Island Sand Paper, we produce a monthly SAND LIFE Entertainment magazine, a news website (fortmyersbeach.news) and are active in social media including Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram. And it’s all free, courtesy of our loyal advertisers.
We live in an information age and people want to receive that information in a variety of ways. As your source for all the news of Fort Myers Beach, we have expanded to make it easy to find the news you want, when you want it. Nobody else does that. You won’t find the news of a benefit to help an ailing community member on the local TV news, or the in-depth look at your favorite local artist anywhere else but right here, in your community newspaper or on its website.
This week, we celebrate National Newspaper Week. We celebrate newspapers as the “Way to Know.” Newspapers fill an important role in small communities. We report on and question elected officials. We expect transparency when it’s easier to operate in the shadows. If you’re looking for weather updates or celebrity gossip or the national political report, we are not your source. But if you really want to know what’s going on in Fort Myers Beach, you’re in the right place because that is what we focus on. And not just the 30-second version of what’s happening on the beach, but the in-depth, whole meeting reporting including background and next steps.
Community journalism is about the community. Take away the ink and paper, the tweets and the website and you have a group of people fervently committed to this community – working to make it the best it can be.
We thank you, our readers, for the opportunity to tell our community’s stories – your stories – every week. We thank our advertisers, who make our paper, magazine, website and social media presence possible. It is a privilege to be part of the tapestry of life on Fort Myers Beach.