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Editorial 630

Missy Layfield - Editor

We Are All Islanders

Here at the Sand Paper, we consistently tell people that we write the Sand Paper for Islanders. We are a community newspaper "By Islanders, For Islanders.”

So, who is an Islander?

To start with, the locals are – those lucky and hearty souls who live here year round. They’re the ones who make this corner of paradise hum, the heart and soul of the Beach. They care for our Island because it’s their home. They also bring us some of our best story ideas. We don’t write stories on every suggestion, but we do consider each one and if a good number of Islanders would be interested in that story, we’ll dig into the story and write it.

Islanders also include those who, while they don’t sleep on the island, are here most days because they work or play here. They live nearby and feel very much a part of our island. These Islanders also have an interest in what happens on Fort Myers Beach. We know this because our paper boxes in our 33908 zip code distribution area empty out so fast on Friday mornings that we get calls accusing us of not filling them. Get there early on Friday morning folks for your copy of the Sand Paper!

Our definition of Islanders also extends to those who live here only part of the year, whether it’s a week, a month or 6 months. We know that they also have an interest in what happens on our island. Our subscription list tells us that when they go home, whether to Alaska, Ontario or Indiana, many of them are still very interested in what happens here and follow Island events and news year round via online or hard copy Sand Paper subscriptions. In January over 52,000 people visited our website to check in with the island. We know people are very interested in what happens on Fort Myers Beach, whether they are here or not.

We write the Sand Paper for all those different Islanders. They’re all interested in different stories, so we put a variety of stories in each issue.

We write local government stories because our local readers rely on us to report on what happens during local government meetings. You can count on the Sand Paper to have full reports on Town Council, Local Planning Agency, Fire and Library Board meetings. No summary here, but a full description of topics covered and actions taken. Our readers tell us that’s the type of coverage our readers want on local politics.

We also know that local politics is of limited interest to our occasional Island visitors. But it is of great interest to the people who live here year round because it impacts their lives year round. We try to balance each issue so it contains articles to appeal to year-round residents as well as visitors.

We cover local environmental stories because there is a great deal of interest from both residents and visitors. How could there not be? Our island is a narrow barrier island sandwiched between bodies of water that are affected by mainland pollution and politics. Our economy is very closely tied to the environment, as we were reminded in 2010 with the BP Gulf oil spill.

Our Island is a wonderfully diverse place. We have artists and musicians, servers and bartenders, retirees and vacationers, young and not so young, families and singles. This broad range is unique in a state that tends to have clusters of retirees or vacationers in one area and locals in another. Here on our island we have the opportunity to live with each other, interact on a daily basis and through our newspaper, to read what others are interested in.

It is for this broad range of Islanders that we write the Sand Paper.

By Islanders, For Islanders.

We do repeat some stories, not verbatim certainly, but we do provide the same information each year on the same events.

That is because we are not a static community, but one that has new Islanders joining us all the time. This information is new to many people on the Beach each time we print it. We try to make it interesting each time we cover a recurring event.

The Island Sand Paper exists to serve all Islanders, those who are here for a lifetime and those who are here for a day.

We know this place grows on you. Everyone in our office lives on the Island. So, when we’re covering a story on Estero traffic, know that we sit in it every day ourselves. When tax rates go up, we pay more. We are invested in our Island. We want to be part of making our Island a better place to live, play, work and visit for all of us.

Watch for us in the Shrimp Parade with our new Sand Paper shirts spreading the Islander word.

We are all Islanders.

Missy & Bob Layfield