The Hernando Sun's first printed newspaper was produced two years ago on March 1st. Our first issue was an eight page broadsheet. It came out once a month. At the time it was a challenge to finish that every month and send it out and deliver to stores. We spent a lot of time getting into stores and talking to managers to get into the stores. The first issue was free and every issue since then has cost 75 cents. On April 1st, last year we increased our printing frequency to weekly.
In May of 2016, we met all the requirements to carry legal notices (notice of sale, notice to creditors, fictitious name, etc). We had our certification as periodical for a year from the post office and we were printing weekly. To be certified as a periodical you must sell the majority of your newspapers, not carry too many ads and several other requirements. The post office can audit a newspaper at any time to confirm compliance with these requirements.
There have been many people who have helped us along the way and are still helping us today. There are our writers, our store delivery carriers, our layout staff, our ad sales representatives and many others. There were several people who encouraged us, provided stories and background, advertised with us, or convinced their friends to subscribe.
There was the Associate Category Manager at Speedway corporate that helped us get into the Nexxus system which allowed us to be sold in a number of stores. She said that since we are a community paper, they wished to help us out.
There was the Publix manager that called all the other Publix managers in the county and recommended that they carry our paper. She also put the paper on the counter in her store, since as a weekly paper we wind up being put in places where it is difficult to find us.
There were many people who sent kind letters of encouragement and thanks. These have been gathered into a binder and when we need a boost, we review the letters.
In two years we have managed to go from nothing to a newspaper that distributes 1,500 papers. We have more than 500 subscribers and are members of the Florida Press Association, National Newspaper Association, and Florida Press Education Service (FPES). Through FPES we have started a Newspapers in Education (NIE) program where we supply newspapers to local schools for teachers to use as a resource.
We have helped new businesses announce themselves to the community and existing businesses find new customers. We've featured the achievements of local athletes, students and community organizations. We keep tabs on developments in local government and provide interesting articles on the history of the area. We hope to expand on this coverage in the years to come.
There has been much sleep deprivation in the last two years, but any business starting out is demanding. As the newspaper continues to grow, we look forward to improving our service to the community.