Who knew that phrases like “unprecedented times,” “flattening the curve” and “we are in this together” would become so commonplace? Everyone from airlines to banks to the dry cleaner you used 10 years ago, has sent reassurance that they are there for you. At the risk of getting lost in all that noise, we felt it worth mentioning our recent absence and our return.
Our last print edition of the Island Sand Paper was March 20. This is “unprecedented” in several ways:
It’s the first missed print publication since 2001. COVID-19 has done what Hurricane Charley, Irma, the Deep Horizon oil spill, Estero Blvd redevelopment and several coastal water quality disasters could not do.
The decision to not print came immediately after we published the largest issues of 2020 on March 13, representing a lightning fast negative turnaround. That paper hit the street on March 13 and by March 16, we knew we were done publishing for a while.
Our decision to suspend the print edition and focus 100% on providing current news and information on fortmyersbeach.news was made for several simple reasons:
We knew most local businesses were closed or barely open. Without advertising revenue, we had to quickly reduce our costs. The cost to design, print and deliver the Print Edition is significant. We have said that without our advertisers, the Sand Paper would not exist. And that’s what happened. No advertising, no print edition Sand Paper.
We were sensitive to our advertisers and felt we could help our customers by not holding them to Advertising Agreements when we knew their business was closed.
We are an independent, locally-owned business, like most of our customers, with no parent company or rich uncle to fund us through bad times. We are self-reliant, period.
Loyal Sand Paper readers (God Bless Them!) responded by finding us online at fortmyersbeach.news and on social media. Website visits and Facebook reach numbers went through the roof, breaking records set during Hurricane Irma. It is satisfying to know that readers continue to depend on us for news and information, as they have since 2001. Also interesting is that our weekly website traffic now exceeds our normal print count for this time of year. So readers have been reading the Island Sand Paper – just in a different format.
It is painful to watch our community suffer through this pandemic. We know that each closed business represents a dozen or more employees, plus the owners, who all depend on that business to feed their families. The financial, social and emotional strain is enormous.
As a family that knows well the challenges of a depressed immune system and life-threatening infection exposure, we are cautious about re-opening plans. If social distancing and the other CDC recommendations are not observed, COVID-19 will exact a toll on us all – people will get sick and some will die. And not just senior citizens. Returning to anything close to “normal” will be pushed even further out in the future.
So please, continue maintaining your 6’ distance from anyone not living in your household. Continue wearing a mask when around other people, and continue washing your hands immediately after touching anything while out in public.
Be careful out there; you are important to our community!
Bob & Missy Layfield