This year’s A to Z Issue celebrates people and businesses who have been successfully riding the turbulent waves of change and offering service and hope to the community at large. The print edition will be out later this month, but we’re teasing the content online, one letter at a time.
Newspapers were already in a beleagured state before the pandemic; print advertising was cratering, politicians were crying “Fake News!” and readers were retreating into cable and social media bubbles where the news actually was fake. Come the pandemic, conditions worsened for many publications, leading to layoffs and reduced page counts. Yet look at the vital work newspapers are continuing to do, both in print and online. The Tampa Bay Times wins deserved awards for the work of writers like Lane DeGregory, whose humanity shines through in every word she writes. The alt-weekly Creative Loafing (my former employer) manages to produce an amazing amount of excellent content in print and online despite having had its full-time edit staff reduced to two. The Weekly Challenger continues to be a strong voice for the Black community — a voice we should all be listening to. And at a time when local papers across the country are dying out, it’s been great to see one getting reborn: The Gabber, the heart and soul of Gulfport. The 52-year-old independent weekly seemed in danger of going away forever when its owners decided earlier this year to throw in the towel, but a former Gabber columnist, Cathy Salustri, came to the rescue and purchased it with her husband and business partner Barry Loper. Returning at first as an online-only publication and debuting in print on July 9, the new Gabber shines with a mix of sassy attitude and solid reporting that should assure its survival for at least another half-century.