OKEECHOBEE — The Lake Okeechobee News is Okeechobee County’s oldest continuing business, established in 1914. The first broadsheet print edition, then called the Okeechobee Call, was in 1915. Over the years, the newspaper has made a number of changes in publication dates, name and circulation area. The paper has also gone through a lot of different editors and publishers. I started with the Okeechobee News in 1986 and, although I have changed job descriptions a few times over the years, I hold the record for the most years as editor.
Next week, the newspaper will make another change. Starting with the Wednesday, April 22, edition, the Wednesday edition will increase in pages, and we will no longer print a newspaper on Fridays and Sundays. At the same time, we are increasing the news coverage on our website, lakeokeechobeenews.com.
So while the larger print edition will be sold only once a week, the newspaper’s website will be a virtual daily newspaper with stories and photos posted seven days a week.
The change has been in the planning phase for some time, in response to the changes in our society. As more people get their news online, we need to devote more resources to news coverage on our website.
To access the website, just go online on any computer, tablet or cellphone to lakeokeechobeenews.com. You can also follow our Facebook page, which has links to stories on the website.
We had originally planned to make the change later in the year, when we will launch an expanded website. Due to the recent developments with the COVID-19 pandemic, the decision was made to move ahead with the plan sooner, in order to devote more resources to online reporting. The pandemic has meant local and state governments are making changes daily, sometimes several times a day. Our readers need that information immediately, and we will be there to provide it.
Work on the new website is underway. Until it is complete, we will add the expanded news coverage to our current website. When the new website is complete, the existing content of the current website will be transferred to the new one.
What does this mean for subscribers? The accounts for those who have paid in advance for newspaper subscriptions will be credited to reflect the changes. Those who have EZPAY will be charged the new rate. This applies to those with home delivery, mail and electronic subscriptions. To subscribe, go online to lakeokeechobeenews.com and click on “Subscribe” in the top left corner. Or call us at 863-763-3134.
For even more local news, sign up for the Lake Okeechobee News newsletter, delivered free to your email inbox with links to stories on our website. To sign up for the free newsletter, go online to lakeokeechobeenews.com and click on “Subscribe” in the top left corner and chose “newsletter.” You will be asked to enter your email address. That’s all there is to it.
While the way many readers get their information from their hometown newspaper and frequency of the print edition will change, our dedication to serving the community is unchanged. The newspaper has helped the community weather hurricanes, flood and fires. We will help the community get through the COVID-19 pandemic. Our pioneer spirit endures.
We continue to welcome submissions from the community. Email your news, photos, letters to the editor and community events to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What does this mean for advertisers? The combination of our weekly print edition with our website provides the best of both worlds for advertisers. It will allow local businesses to reach both those who get all of their news online and those who enjoy reading a traditional newspaper. Last week alone we welcomed more than 60,000 unique visitors to our website and more than 50,000 unique visitors to our mobile news platform. With online readership higher than ever before, we will make sure our advertising product portfolio made available to area businesses matches reader trends. We are working to launch the new website later this spring/early summer while we provide daily updates at lakeokeechobeenews.com.