Some weeks being the publisher of a weekly newspaper is more fun than others. And, the past week was one of them.
Let’s begin with the recognition we received at the annual meeting of the Florida Press Association. Led by editor B.C. Manion, our news department received 10 statewide awards for outstanding photography, news stories and feature writing.
These awards convey the quality of work my staff does reporting about issues, new developments and people in our community.
Awards also give our readers outside validation that our stories meet high standards, as compared to our industry peers.
Because we print a lot of papers every week — nearly 45,000 — our entries compete in the largest circulation category of this competition. This means we are up against entries from large, corporate-owned newspapers with budgets and staffs that are much bigger than ours.
Here at The Laker/Lutz News, we have just four journalists, editor B.C. Manion, staff writers Kathy Steele and Kevin Weiss, and news assistant Mary Rathman. Working alongside our staff are freelance photographers Richard Riley and Fred Bellet, who are regular contributors to our papers.
It is significant that our small newsroom receives journalism awards every year, because it shows we consistently do good work. This year we had an especially strong showing, making us one of the best newspapers in the state. My staff is thrilled, and I couldn’t be prouder.
After the Florida Press awards, I thought things couldn’t get much better. But, they did.
At last week’s dedication of Heritage Stage at the Land O’ Lakes Community Park, The Laker/Lutz News was honored again by having our name engraved in the building’s dedication plaque.
Our part in this community project was small, especially when compared to that of the Heritage Park Foundation and its leader, Sandy Graves.
Throughout the years, The Laker/Lutz News has written many stories about the Foundation’s efforts to raise money for the stage. And, we’ve regularly reported on the group’s diligence to influence public officials to provide the money, property and construction oversight to build the stage.
Today’s story on the front of our B Section reflects on the 20 years it took for this stage to become a reality. The Laker/Lutz News has kept the community aware of the Foundation’s fundraising activities, and its ultimate success.
We were just one of many business owners and community leaders whose names are memorialized on the Heritage Stage dedication plaque. Many of us attending the ribbon cutting had an emotional high as we listened to the amazing sound of the Sunlake High School Band, and were led in the Pledge of Allegiance by students from Sanders Elementary. The stage’s acoustics were superb, and it’s exciting to finally have a place in Land O’ Lakes for people to gather for community events and concerts.
I believe there is a connection between these two recognitions. Both occurred because we want our newspaper to be a valuable resource in our community, documenting the happenings of Lutz, Land O’ Lakes, Wesley Chapel, Zephyrhills and Dade City.
It is gratifying to receive accolades from our peers in journalism and from the communities we serve, but we recognize that the real prize comes from the satisfaction we derive from delivering stories and photographs that are important to you and your neighbors.
Published August 23, 2017