Gulfport, FL – On March 26, in a scene we’re witnessing in communities across the country, the longest running weekly newspaper in Pinellas County was forced into closure by the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. Today, veteran reporters from some of the area’s best known papers are rallying to save that paper.
‘The Gabber’ in Gulfport is an institution on the Gulf Coast and is one of the oldest family owned papers in Florida. “Through three owners, two recessions and 9/11, the paper hit the streets every Thursday,’ a recent article in the Tampa Bay Times pointed out, and owners Ken and Deb Reichart are thrilled that local reporters, many of whom they’ve hired over the years, have organized a campaign to save the town’s beloved paper.
The group of reporters seeking to raise money to keep The Gabber afloat is comprised of Cathy Salustri, a veteran reporter at The Gabber and Creative Loafing, Joey Neill, who until a forced layoff in March was the Creative Director at Creative Loafing, Laura Mulrooney, a veteran reporter at both Creative Loafing and The Gabber and Shelly Wilson, owner of an independent editing business and former editor at The Gabber. They are joined in their efforts by owners Ken and Deb Reichart.
“Cathy’s excitement and vision for keeping The Gabber alive brings hope for our little town newspaper. We’ll all work together to make for a smooth transition and make sure our advertisers and readers get what they deserve, “said Mr. Reichart.
The Gabber is a vital resource for clubs and organizations throughout the community. The paper’s a digital and print bulletin board — and sounding board — for not only the community, but local government, charitable organizations, and small businesses.
Barbara Banno, President of the Gulfport Merchants Chamber, says The Gabber is an essential tool to engage with the community. “Our businesses, non-profits and artists all rely on The Gabber to keep the community up to date on their various activities. We rely on the paper not only for their reporting, but also to advertise our new businesses and upcoming events. In a community our size, it’s the perfect paper and I hope we can come together to keep it going,” said Banno.
The team has set up an IndieGoGo account with the goal of raising $250,000 to keep the paper afloat. The site, linked below, offers a variety of ways to pitch in and dozens of locals contributed in the first hours.
In addition to selling merchandise and accepting donations to keep the paper operating in the pandemic, the group has started selling discounted advertising to attract the business community. Several local businesses purchased advertising space, priced at 2016 levels, in the campaign’s first hours to show support for the paper. In addition, members of the community have started purchasing pre-paid advertising gift cards on behalf of local businesses.
As for the sale itself? Salustri’s using a combination of her own money and low-interest loans from members of the community to buy the paper. Salustri, a published author who makes her living writing and speaking about Florida, says she will not take a salary until the paper’s on sure footing again.
To help ‘Save the Gabber,’ please visit: