By Jason Koler and Britt Myers
Earlier this week a report announced the demise of the Keynoter and Upper Keys Reporter as we know it, leaving a void in the Florida Keys that will be nearly impossible to fill. For more than 60 years their reporters have done an admirable, difficult and often thankless job of covering the news in the islands.
We have shared many professional and personal moments with the Keynoter and Reporter family over the years. And while we would often battle over competitive differences, we also served and lived together here in our tight communities we call home. We sincerely wish the best for our colleagues and will miss them, as their efforts made us strive to become a better publication.
And yet, with another publication retreating from a tangible “thing” you can hold in your hands, again we face the cliché we have heard for a decade: “Print is dead.”
Print is not dead. It is a living, breathing medium filled with creativity, information and entertainment.
The Keys Weekly Newspapers was born in a converted apartment back in 2003 as the Marathon Weekly. Since then, we have opened additional offices in Key West and Tavernier and our publishing group produces (on average) 112 pages per week in newsprint, more than 30 annual magazines — including the Florida Keys Hurricane Guide, dining guides, the Monroe County Annual Report, Tropical Living specialty guides and festival programs for the biggest events in the Keys.
Serving our community is what has helped us grow from a five-person staff in a makeshift space into a full-fledged publishing company with 16 employees — including two new full-time employees hired earlier this month. And owning homes, having children in our schools, serving on nonprofit boards, putting on events like the “Bubbas: Key West People’s Choice Awards” and “Best of Marathon,” and participating in and supporting what matters in our community has, I believe, allowed us to recognize the delicate balance of hard news and community news needed here. It is not a secret formula, but it does require local ownership. Local participation. Local knowledge. And above all, a sense of local empathy injected into community journalism.
Across the country locally owned community newspapers are thriving — mostly under the weekly model, which allows for contemplative journalism outside of the realm of daily “top stories” that are read and just as quickly forgotten. Our reasons for growth and success are like many. Maybe it is because we must make the model work in order to support our staff and their families. Maybe it is because we realize the first objective is to serve our community — rather than to sensationalize it for short-term shock value.
The Keys Weekly is growing. And just as our print continues to grow, so does our digital footprint here and beyond. Today we govern two Facebook pages with more than 25,000 organic likes, an email blast that reaches tens of thousands, a web page that has exceeded metrics beyond our wildest imagination.
We promise there will be a print edition of the Keys Weekly available from the stretch to the Southernmost Point each and every week. And we promise — print is not dead. In fact, we are just getting started.