The Laker/Lutz News announced on Nov. 9 that it had been sold to Street Media LLC, a group of about 40 employees headed up by Brian Calle, who will work with my team to extend our reach and influence by adding services we have just begun to touch on — in digital advertising content, marketing and other new media opportunities.
Brian shared with me before we closed on the newspaper’s sale that he marveled at what an amazing job we do producing such high-quality local journalism that is well-read and well-received throughout the communities we serve. It’s rare and unique, he told me, to see a thriving and growing local publication selling almost exclusively print ads to support it.
One of the reasons I selected Brian as the next steward of The Laker/Lutz News is because he understands our commitment to the print editions of our papers and because he understands that our readers want to receive their community newspaper in their driveway every week.
With our solid base of followers, Brian plans to expand our offerings and keep abreast of this area’s tremendous growth and to prepare for the thousands of new residents moving to Pasco County in the coming decades.
I’m proud of the readership we’ve built, including these impressive statistics recently reported by an independent circulation auditing firm:
- 75% of households in our market area in Pasco and north Hillsborough counties read our newspaper on a regular basis
- 75% frequently purchase products and services from ads seen in our paper
- 79% have the paper delivered to their home
- 75% keep the paper in their home for up to four days after it is delivered
- 40% have household incomes over $100,000
- 51% have graduated from college, including 20% with advanced degrees
- 41% are between the ages of 35 and 54, which is 3% more than the U.S. census bureau reports for the zip codes we reach
Readers of The Laker/Lutz News dispel the mistaken belief that people born after 1980 do not read newspapers, and get all of their news online. That may be true in many places, but not here in Lutz, Land O’ Lakes, Wesley Chapel, Zephyrhills, Dade City and San Antonio.
You read The Laker/Lutz News because it provides you with pertinent and well-written stories that make a difference in your life. It’s because of this outstanding local news coverage that The Laker/Lutz News was recognized by the Florida Press Association as its 2021 Top Weekly Newspaper in its largest circulation division.
I am incredibly proud of this achievement, the high journalistic standards we continuously maintain, the connection that we have to the communities we serve, and the impressive list of businesses who advertise in our pages every week.
Making the decision to sell The Laker/Lutz News was difficult because I love what I do, and care deeply for my employees, readers, community and advertisers.
But there is more to who I am than just the owner of this newspaper. I am a mother, grandmother, sister and friend.
I need and want to spend time with Vic Anthony, my partner for 10 years; and with my daughter, Rachel, who lives in Tallahassee; my son, Andy, his wife, Erin, and my grandchildren who are ages 6, 4, 2, with a fourth on the way. I also want to spend more time with my siblings, who live in Gainesville and Minnesota, my home state.
I will be 67 in February, and hope to have another 25 years to embrace more closely those I love best, and to explore the world outside of Pasco County.
I am fortunate to have found Brian as your new publisher because he already shares my passion for The Laker/Lutz News. I believe he will be a good steward of my legacy, and will take what my team and I have built and create an even better community newspaper.
I want to express my gratitude for my talented and committed staff, who have stood alongside me all these years. They have brought me incredible ideas and shared their vision of what The Laker/Lutz News could be.
These folks do their jobs every week and back up their colleagues, regardless of hurricanes, pandemics and personal hardships. They make sure that every Wednesday you have a new edition of The Laker/Lutz News.
My team not only has contributed to the success of the newspaper, but they have been a source of inspiration, and have become my friends. Each of them has brought their unique talents to the paper, and I want to recognize them individually, here:
- Mary Rathman, editorial, 19 years
- Terri Williamson, sales, 18 years
- Mary Eberhard, accounting, 18 years
- Carolyn Bennett, sales, 17 years
- Matt Mistretta, artist, 16 years
- Stefanie Burlingame, artist, 13 years
- B.C. Manion, editorial, 11 years
- Kevin Weiss, editorial, six years
- Kelli Carmack, marketing, two years
- Mary Jane Weeks, sales, eight months
- Trevor Lloyd, marketing, six months
- Nicole Sanchez, marketing, six months
Although I will still be around the next several weeks during the transition, it’s time for me to say goodbye and to say thank you, to all of you. I will forever value your friendships and support, and it is my hope that you will embrace Brian, as you have me.
Published November 17, 2021