The Villages’ Daily Sun is more impressive than you might think.
As you know, I believe that to write well, one must read. Everything. That’s why this column will be devoted to the nation’s dwindling universe of local papers.
I started my journalistic career at the Staten Island Advance, a newspaper that once blanketed the “forgotten” borough with wedding announcements, accidents, court cases, obituaries, neighborhood news, sports, community, and business meetings — just about everything that glued the area together.
I lament the demise of local journalism. More than 2,200 local papers have closed since 2005. It’s a trend that also gives politicians in the communities those papers once served a free ride. You can bet that’s 2,000+ henhouses now infested with foxes.
I’m scheduled to be interviewed by my local newspaper for a profile that will hopefully appear in the not-too-distant future. I say “hopefully” because the paper is the Daily Sun in the Villages, Florida. It serves a demographic that, like me, doesn’t buy green bananas.
The Daily Sun is one of the most successful local papers in the country. For about $90 a year (yes, a year!), I can get it delivered to my home every morning. On the rare days when something goes wrong (say, a sudden gully-washer leaves the paper too soggy to read), a phone call suffices to get a fresh one delivered within an hour.
The Daily Sun has about six sections every day. (On Sunday, it has several more, including one devoted to books.) Much of the coverage is repetitive and geared to the various neighborhoods in the Villages.
I’m not a joiner, so pickleball, line dancing, kayaking, sculling, bocce, shuffleboard, corn-tossing, polo (yes, polo), and the like don’t really excite me. But the sports section is good and covers local, regional, national, and international sports very well. Golf, football, and NASCAR get a lot of ink. (Hey, it’s Florida.) There’s also plenty of medical news. Judging by the number of ads, the paper must be making a fortune.
The Daily Sun leans conservative but is not right-wing. It holds local politicians accountable no matter what their political stripe. Reading between the lines, I sense that the editors are not overjoyed with Florida’s current government.
The Daily Sun occasionally has a special section devoted to various issues of local or national import, such as a recent one about Hurricane Ian and its effects on the state. It included profiles and photos of victims that reminded me of 9/11 coverage. I sent the staff a note saying that I considered it Pulitzer-worthy.
Overall, one of the main reasons I like the Daily Sun is its aforementioned book section. And the paper constantly promotes book clubs and libraries.
I really like living in an area where people read. It makes me feel good — so good, in fact, that maybe I’ll go ahead and spring for a green banana, after all.
Lawrence De Maria has written more than a score of thrillers and mysteries on Amazon. They are all available in print and as e-books, including his latest, Joshua House. He likes living in a community where people read, as long as they don’t look too closely at his golf scorecards.