The Coastal Star

Editor's Note: 10 years of publishing in the sunshine — and other days

By Mary Kate Leming

Ten years. Who’d a thunk it? Not me, that’s for sure. I was convinced print would be so crippled by digital that we’d get only five years out of our startup publication at most.

Wow, was I wrong.

I knew there was a serious risk of this coastal area becoming a local news desert, but I didn’t know whether anyone cared. You, dear readers, have shown us that you do care about local news. And you’ve proven that delivering news in print and to your driveway is a model that still works.

Yes, we have 3,500 members on our website and our stories frequently get over 1,000 views on Facebook, but the amount that digital delivery contributes to our business model is minute.

We make our money from print. We deliver more than 17,000 print copies each month.

So why does this news model still work?

Simple: People want to be part of a community. They want to know what’s happening around them. They want to see a reflection of who they are today and who they have been. They want to know what the future might bring.

And print is durable. It allows us to hold a journalistic mirror up to both the beautiful and the not-so-beautiful in our area and gives us all a sense of belonging to something larger than ourselves. That is a critical element of any community, of any society.

Partners understand

Our advertising partners understand this. They support our journalism even when we write on topics they’d rather we didn’t. They understand that they play a large role in defining how our community is viewed. Their support through these past 10 years has exceeded our expectations.

I shouldn’t be surprised, since the individuals and companies who support our local journalism are our neighbors. Like us, they live, work and play here. Advertising with us is just one of the many generous ways they give back to our community. We admire their local commitment and are grateful for their continued support.

Committed staff

The amazing journalists who work with us each month do so out of love for the work and a commitment to their craft. Trust me, they don’t sit through five-hour commission meetings for the money. No one goes into community journalism to get rich. The hours spent each month contributing to this newspaper are committed with a desire to provide readers with necessary information to make informed decisions about local government, community and life.

I’m fortunate to work with some of the best storytellers in South Florida and grateful they’ve chosen to be a part of our newspaper’s family. I’m also thankful for all of our hard-working support staff. It really does take a village.

Challenges ahead

We cover so many municipalities that other media ignore, that some months our resources get stretched pretty thin. And as with many other small, family businesses, our employees are getting older. Some want more personal time, some feel a need to make more money and some simply need health insurance. After a decade of publishing — beginning in the midst of the Great Recession — I understand these concerns. Someday, I too would like to retire. But right now there’s so much more our newspaper would like to do, so much that needs to be reported, so much more to share with our readers about where we live.

So … when the naysayers tell us our business model is obsolete, we’ll keep on. When elected officials refuse to provide public records, we’ll keep pressing for them. When someone calls our work “fake news,” we’ll put out another edition.

We’ve learned a lot this past decade: how to stay quick and nimble, how to admit mistakes and, most of all, how to say thank you to our readers for your continued support. Thank you. We are deeply grateful.

— Mary Kate Leming, Editor

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