I walked into The Gabber Newspaper office in March, 2001 to apply for a job answering phones. I was 23 years old, hadn’t finished my college degree and was convinced I was walking into an office of “blue hairs,” as my grandmother joked.
See, I grew up in Gulfport. I went to Bear Creek Elementary and to Bogie. I trick-or-treated here; I went to summer camp at Gulfport Rec. Once, I was nearly locked in the Gulfport Library because I stayed too late. I thought I knew Gulfport. And when I walked through the newspaper doors 20 years ago, I thought I knew the Gabber: a local newspaper full of Bingo dates and city council meetings – not exactly essential reading for a twenty-something.
But I got that job. And I met a dedicated, fun staff. Former owners Ken and Deb Reichart mentored me with a passion for what this weekly paper means to our community.
While I took classified ads and fielded calls for lost pets and boat parades, I remained unsure about what my “career” might be. Ken let me try my hand at reporting. (You can thank me for headlines such as “Baking a Difference” and “Whole Auto Love.”)
I’ve been at the Gabber on and off for 15 of the past 20 years. My last return was in 2013, as editor. Twenty years is a long time. I’ve seen this paper go from the pre-internet boom times of 80-plus pages (with 20 pages of classifieds!) to the darker days of the Great Recession. I was there when Hurricane Irma had us producing a paper from a living room. I was there when pandemic shutdowns cut our advertising by nearly two-thirds overnight. And I was there when my old friend and former Gabber coworker, Cathy Salustri, called me back for the paper’s renaissance.
Because that’s what this is: a Gabber Renaissance.
Since 2001, I have been deeply proud to be part of putting out this paper every week. I am so proud to bring you news you simply won’t find anywhere else – from Little League to leaping lemurs. And I’ve been most proud to help the Gabber transition from the pandemic to the iteration you see today – with an unprecedented amount of original content, but crafted with the same love for the community from all who came before us.
Though I have certainly called it as much, the Gabber has never been “my paper.” It’s not the Salustri/Lopers’ paper, not the Reicharts’, or the Haveness’ – it’s not even founder George Brann’s paper.
It’s yours, and it always will be.
Thank you, Gabber readers, for letting me be your shepherd of community news. As we move into the next phase, please join me in welcoming a new editor to take our paper into the future, because I have no doubt the Gabber’s brightest days are still ahead.
For you long-time readers, I’ll sign off with a Gabber classic: Remember, today is the first day of the rest of your life.