Our online newspaper – the first and only one covering Hatteras and Ocracoke – made its debut on Sept. 5, 2007.
Each year since then, I have written a column on that date to thank our readers and advertisers for their support and to keep all of you apprised of the rapid growth in readership.
I didn’t write that column on Sept. 5 this year.
It was just a week after Hurricane Irene dealt a serious blow to the islands – with a devastating storm surge from the Pamlico Sound in Avon, Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo. Highway 12 was severed in several places and we were relying on emergency ferries for emergency personnel and supplies to reach the island.
We were all busy with assessing the damage and cleanup, and we at The Island Free Press were busy bringing you the best hurricane aftermath news you could find anywhere.
Yes, our readership was off the charts for September, as residents, non-resident property owners, and folks who love the islands flocked to IFP for any news they could get.
We gave them plenty.
For the month of September, 102,000 individuals logged onto the Island Free Press. They made 356,000 visits to the site, and looked at 1.325 million pages of our online newspaper.
There was really no other place these people could get up-to-date reports. The regional and national media came and went, as they always do, and, with most communication methods cut off for several days, folks couldn’t even call a cousin or a friend or a neighbor for a sketchy report of what was happening here. In truth, no outside media are really interested in more than 30 seconds of video or three paragraphs of print about what happens to us on the Outer Banks that we all so cherish.
It was the IFP’s finest hour in its four years of bringing community journalism to the islands.
And that was important to our readers, who have flooded us with notes of gratitude—hundreds of them now appear in Letters to the Editor on the Commentary and Letters page.
We can’t tell you how much we appreciate your support and your loyalty.
Now, we want to ask you to support us in a different way.
We need you to support our advertisers.
There would be no Island Free Press if it weren’t for our advertisers. This newspaper is supported entirely by revenue from these advertisers. There are no subscriptions, no foundation grants, no voluntary contributions, no sugar daddies. Our business is just reporting the news and selling advertising. It’s as simple as that.
The Island Free Press is a labor of love -- but it’s also a business, and we can’t stay open without revenue.
Right now, we have about 85 advertisers, most of which have been with us since the beginning.
We need you to let them know that you support them because they support us.
This is more important than ever to all businesses on Hatteras and Ocracoke, which have been devastated economically -- even if they were not physically -- by the storm.
Click on the ads if you are renting a cottage, deciding where to eat dinner now or on your next trip, planning a shopping expedition or a fishing trip. Several shops have websites on which you can order merchandise, perhaps as Christmas gifts.
If you are on the islands, please visit our advertisers as often as you can.
Make it a point to let those advertisers know that their support for our community journalism matters to you.
It sounds boastful -- we don’t mean it that way -- but the Island Free Press was the lifeline for thousands of people during the hurricane and its aftermath. The only lifeline.
Hurricane Irene has proved once again that the people who care about the Outer Banks rely on us, and we rely on our advertisers.
Help us keep them and add even more of them to our pages of news, features, and commentary.
And thank you all – readers and advertisers—for another great year for Island Free Press.
HURRICANE IRENE AFTERMATH PAGE
In the days after the hurricane, it became apparent to us that we needed to create a special page for all the news of recovery and rebuilding. In September and October, we added hundreds of articles and short items about fundraising events, meetings, and getting help.
As we progress with recovery, we will continue to cover all of the post-Irene news that is important to you.
However, it will now appear on the Local News Page. We will flag those stories with “HURRICANE AFTERMATH” in red type, so you can easily identify them.