Ocala’s Getting a New Newspaper

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Posted June 24, 2020 |

OCALA’S GETTING A NEW NEWSPAPER

A new weekly newspaper is about to debut in Ocala, the Ocala Gazette.

The Gazette will be a printed weekly newspaper, appearing each Monday, with an online presence providing daily news. The inaugural edition is scheduled to be published July 6th, said Publisher Jennifer Hunt Murty, who also publishes Ocala Style magazine.

The Gazette’s focus will be all local, all the time – free of newswire reports and featuring a blend of in-depth reporting and community news on people, events and issues around the Ocala metro area.

Significant personnel cutbacks at the local daily newspaper, resulting in diminished local news coverage, inspired Murty to start the Gazette.

“Initially, we expected someone else to fill the void, and so we waited and watched,” Murty said. “It seemed that large portions of Ocala were enjoying a renaissance of revitalization and growth, and yet we worried that powerful groups, politicians and businesses writing their own narrative without the checks and balances of an active local press had the potential to create conditions ripe for irreversible harm to a community we loved.”

To underscore the Gazette’s locally oriented mission and character, Murty turned to veteran community journalists. The Gazette’s core news staff includes Brad Rogers, who spent a quarter-century with the Ocala Star-Banner, including 20 years as the paper’s editorial page editor; Bill Thompson, who covered Marion County for the Star-Banner for nearly 15 years; and Bruce Ackerman, a Star-Banner staff photographer for almost three decades.

“We did not feel we could afford the learning curve of hiring journalists from outside the market who did not already know the community,” said Murty.

Ocala, Rogers said, “needs the Ocala Gazette as a vehicle for community news” as well as a government watchdog.

“A vibrant community needs an equally vibrant news media to not only chronicle the gains and losses of the community, but to keep an eye on our decision makers to ensure they are acting in the best interests of our readers,” he added.

Rogers said the vision for the Gazette is “to provide extensive coverage of all the good things happening in and around Ocala while also delivering regular in-depth reporting on issues and newsmakers of the day. We want to inform the public on everything from social events to school happenings to, well, scandals.”

As part of its effort to help better inform the community, the Gazette will initially provide readers free online access to its digital edition, regardless of their ability to pay for a subscription.

The Gazette, of course, is reaching out to local businesses seeking their advertising support in order for the new paper to succeed.

“Community support is essential to sustaining local news,” Murty said. “There is a reason why papers have come to significantly rely more on wire content. It costs less to deliver. Creating original content requires boots on the ground, time and money. Yet the return on the investment can be invaluable when you calculate the benefits of keeping the community informed and connected.”

Initially, the Gazette will be available at all Publix and Wawa stores throughout Marion County and sent to more than 900 businesses at no cost on a weekly basis. Subscribers, depending on where they live, will receive the Gazette either by courier or by mail. Again, access to the Gazette’s website and digital edition will be free for the foreseeable future.

For further information about the Ocala Gazette, how to subscribe, how to advertise, or how to reach our news team, call (352) 732-0073.