On Tuesday, September 5, the Island Free Press officially marked its 10-year anniversary as the “up to date and down to earth” news source for Hatteras and Ocracoke islands.
Started by founders Irene Nolan and Donna Barnett in 2007, the online paper originated as an effort to post essential news stories as soon as they occurred. Before the formation of the Island Free Press, Irene was the editor of the now defunct Island Breeze – a monthly publication that was considered a valuable paper for residents and visitors alike, but which couldn’t have the up-to-the-minute updates that an online format could provide.
The Island Free Press was a venture motivated by timeliness for all parties involved, but in the past 10 years, our local paper has continually grown in readership and has cemented a reputation as an invaluable news source. In 2016, the Island Free Press had 1.6 million visits, and this number looks like it will be even higher for 2017.
And this is due to Irene’s insight, dedication, and unparalleled professionalism.
Without Irene, the Island Free Press would not exist. It was Irene who created the paper, and it was Irene who almost instantly built the Island Free Press into a reputable media outlet.
We lost Irene in March of 2017, and it’s a loss that still reverberates with every story that we write, and every topic that we cover.
From our more light-hearted features stories to tougher topics that stir inevitable controversy, we are continually asking “Would Irene approve?” and only move forward if the answer is yes.
Her contribution to The Island Free Press and to our islands in general remain prevalent and constant. It’s because of her that we are able to reach our 10-year mark today, and it’s because of her that we will continually strive to maintain the high reputation that she created for decades to come.
Making Irene proud continues to be our sole motivation and the backbone of The Island Free Press. And though she is not here to celebrate this milestone with us, we wanted to honor what Irene created with a look back at our top stories of the past decade.
We also want to thank you – our readers and advertisers – for being our partner in the past 10 years. It was Irene who created and shaped the IFP, but it is you who keeps us going strong, and who helps keeps us motivated to do our very best.
The first two stories published for The Island Free Press on September 5, 2007, covered the Day at the Docks and the American Heroes Day at the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station.
Since these inaugural stories, the IFP has tackled hurricanes, movie productions, sharks, shipwrecks, wildfires, road closures, local sports, and a myriad of ongoing issues that are still discussed in depth today.
So with this in mind, we decided to take a look back at some of our most read stories over the past decade, which are listed below by year.
We hope that the following stories stir your nostalgia – and your memories of Irene – as much as it did for us when we compiled and reviewed this list.
What a decade it has been.