The continuing adventure of a newspaper

Embarking on an adventure in another state or another country is an exciting time.

You find yourself waking up in the night in the days before your departure with anticipation of the exploits to come.

So it was 22 years ago with the launch of The Islander newspaper by a band of friends and associates, who, facing the demise of the existing local “rag,” set out to fill the void for newslovers and the curious on Anna Maria Island.

It began almost overnight in a small office in Holmes Beach as the Islander Bystander. In fact, from concept to reality, the first edition Nov. 25, 1992, took only a week. It had to, as the existing paper was being absorbed that same week into a regional publication that offered NO NEWS about Anna Maria Island.

A core group of people — you can laugh, but it was three people — spread out across Anna Maria Island to visit anyone and everyone they knew in business to collect advertising. Another core group gathered news, and one person offered to stop in the “cop shops,” as we called them, and uncovered a theft had occurred at a church — and a suspect’s sketch.

Giddy-up. We suddenly had a cover story and graphic for our first edition.

We called friends and business associates to start up a classified ad column. Found a printer. Arranged a home delivery crew. And we gave it a name — Islander Bystander, borrowed from a John D. MacDonald novel  — not knowing if someone owned “The Islander.”

This week, the publication, which evolved comfortably into The Islander masthead after about seven years, begins volume 22, issue No. 1.

Some days it seems little has changed. Other days, you might think you’re on a different planet.

Recently, the office moved to a brighter, more visible space on Marina Drive across from the Island Library. It seems a fitting location, and the timing was suited to the future of newspapers.

We believe the future of community newspapers is solid. We offer news the dailies, TV and radio have no time or space for, and we do it with heart.

But the real future, the real change, will be how the information is presented, and that includes embracing the internet and all that social media has to offer. We want to be a driving force for the future of journalism and communications on AMI.

Which brings us to now. Back to the future. More than three years ago, we were invited to take part in a digital newspaper library pilot project with the University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.

We started by sending all the electronically produced copies of the newspaper to library technicians, who then included The Islander newspaper editions — from 2005 and forward — in the library database.

Next, we donated our collection of printed newspapers covering the beginning, 1992, up to the electronic era of 2005. It took a few years, but it’s all on the UofF digital library site now, all searchable by key word, name or date.

It’s awesome.

That prompted us to reduce our storage of dead newspapers — what we newspapers call a “morgue.”

The next step in our quest to be the “best” news on Anna Maria Island is a digital photo library. By next year at this time or slightly later, The Islander will become part of the official state of Florida archive — our collection of news photos dating back to 1992 will be featured on our own page within the state archives, found at

Soon enough, you’ll be able to find archived photos going back to the first editions of The Islander preserved on the state’s website.

As for now, there’s 21 years, 52 weeks a year, cover to back, the complete collection of The Islander, online.

You’ll find The Islander at the UofF library among the digital stacks, now and into the future. Weekly.


— Bonner Joy


Reprinted from The Islander, Nov. 15, 1951

What! Another newspaper …

Yes! THE ISLANDER is a brand new newspaper. While this is being written, we have not a single subscriber nor one advertiser. We have no connection whatever with previous newspapers so our mailing list comes from the directory, telephone book and the memories of our friends.

Already many people have promised to advertise in The Islander and many others have promised to subscribe. (We will mail some 500-700 copies of this issue plus what we sell in the stores.)

The publisher is The Islander Inc., Anna Maria Florida.

While our initial issue is small, we plan to standardize on a minimum 8-page weekly paper servicing equally Anna Maria, Holmes Beach, Bradenton Beach and all other sections of the Island being developed-the entire Island.

The Islander will be written and edited as an entirely independent newspaper owing no self-service allegiance to any individual group, sect or organization and devoted wholly to the entire population of the Island. Its pages will be open as a public forum where matters pertaining to Anna Maria may be discussed by both sides on any subject that affects the welfare of the people.

We intend to prove whether or not Anna Maria needs and will support a good newspaper. If our endeavor fails, it will not be our failure. Success is in your hands – residents, freeholders, Realtors, tradesmen, service people and all the civic and cultural organizations on the Island.

This was reprinted on page 1 of the new Islander Bystander newspaper in 1992 with the following:


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