AGAINST ALL ODDS A reader asked me, “How has the Independent News survived for a dozen years?” We’re a free publication solely dependent on advertising in an era that has seen the 9/11 tragedy, three major hurricanes, the collapse of the real estate market, an economic depression and the worst man-made environmental disaster in our history.
Frankly, we have survived because we don’t know any better. We have this odd notion that words matter and that newspapers can make a difference–locally, regionally and nationally.
It is folly to think that a little paper with four full-time employees and a band of freelancers can make a difference and somehow stay afloat, but we have, thanks to their efforts and those who have worked so hard before them.
This paper has challenged those who didn’t like being challenged–lawmakers, governors, commissioners, sheriffs and high-paid BP executives. We have investigated corruption, mayhem and misdeeds from which others shied away. We took bold, controversial stands on issues like Taser abuse, Community Maritime Park, strong mayor and school safety. We have had weeks in which we lost more advertisers than we gained. We endured boycotts, stolen issues of the paper and personal threats.
We aren’t a daily newspaper, and we’re nothing like the faux monthly newspapers that focus on events and advertorial. It has taken time for us to find our niche and build a loyal readership, but we have.
When smarter, more business-savvy people might have walked away, we have stood defiant and resolute. We have our voice and refuse to be silent or change to suit someone else’s agenda. The membership committee of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies refused our membership application because we aren’t liberal enough and don’t fit their definition of “alternative.” The Conservative Right is upset because we won’t jump on the bash-Obama bandwagon.
Have we gone overboard sometimes? Has our sense of humor overruled our common sense, at times? Yes, without a doubt. We do push the envelope, and there are times our frustrations with the status quo get the best of us. We have probably picked more fights than we should have.
However, we love this community. When it hurts, we hurt. Jail deaths, homes lost to hurricanes and environmental disasters impact us deeply and drive our reporting. We take our responsibility as watchdogs seriously.
The paper has created a paradigm shift in how people think about news, their leaders and local governments. We hope we have raised expectations and added perspective by giving the behind-the-scene stories on the news others report.
When we look back on our body of work for the past 12 years, we can say that we did our best to make this place better for our families, children and grandchildren. We’ve persevered against unbelievable odds, and you have been with us all along the way.
Thank you. We can’t wait to see what the next 12 years are like.