The Okeechobee News, in business since 1914; the top source for local information

OKEECHOBEE — The Okeechobee News, Okeechobee’s hometown newspaper since 1914 is Okeechobee’s oldest continuing business. The newspaper office is at 107 S.W. 17th Street, Suite D. The website is okeechobeenews.net. The newspaper also has a popular Facebook page with more than 16,000 followers.

Since 1915, the Okeechobee News has celebrated Okeechobee’s accomplishments, pointed out the problem areas, and documented the community’s own history, week after week, without fail.

The Okeechobee News survived the Great Depression and more than one recession. The newspaper kept publishing through hurricanes and floods. The Okeechobee News even managed to keep publishing a newspaper when its own offices burned to the ground.

The print edition of the newspaper is published thrice-weekly, with editions on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. The newspaper is also available online as an e-edition.

The newspaper’s website is updated seven days a week, providing the community with daily news.

The business started in 1914 when the postal permit was first obtained. A postal permit was necessary not only to deliver the papers out of town, but also to establish the paper as a newspaper of record, authorized to run legal advertisements such as government notices.

The Okeechobee community needed a newspaper of record, as community leaders had big plans for the area. In 1915 , they would put the City of Okeechobee on the map as an incorporated city. Two years later, Okeechobee County would be established.

To help organize the community, the Okeechobee Call began in 1914 with a series of fliers similar to a newsletter, printed on 8 x10 paper.

Actual publication of the broadsheet edition of the newspaper did not begin until 1915, with the first edition hitting the streets on July 1, 1915.

While the newspaper has changed names over the years, it has been published under that same original postal permit for 103 years.

The newspaper has changed owners many times. But what has maintained constant for more than 100 years is a dedication to community service and to giving Okeechobee community members the local news and information they need to make decisions in their everyday lives.

The Okeechobee News was a weekly newspaper from 1915 until 1981. The day of the week that it was published varied.

Independent News Media Inc. (then called Independent Newspapers Inc.) acquired Sunshine Newspapers in 1978.

In November 1981, the newspaper began to publish twice a week. Seven years later, the paper added a Sunday edition.

From Sept. 14, 1992 until 2008, the Okeechobee News was a daily newspaper with seven editions a week. The paper survived the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005 without missing a single edition. When the newspaper offices were left without electricity, staffers hauled computer equipment to an employee’s home in order to meet the deadlines. But the paper could not maintain daily publication in the face of an economic storm. After the housing boom went bust in 2008, there was no longer enough advertising to support a daily newspaper and the Okeechobee News returned to three days a week publication.

The Okeechobee News is part of Independent News Media, which has newspapers in Florida, Delaware, Maryland and Arizona.

Independent News Media is an organization dedicated to community journalism. It does not have shareholders or an owner. INI pays taxes like for-profit companies, but is 100 percent owned by a non-profit journalistic trust that allows all after-tax profits to be reinvested in the company’s community service mission. INI gives each community the best newspaper it will support.

Over the years, the newspaper has had a number of slogans including, “The only newspaper in Okeechobee County,” “Home of the Speckled Perch Festival,” and “It’s News. Read It.”

Publisher/Editor Katrina Elsken can be reached at kelsken@newszap.com

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