Our newspaper enters its fifth year, an impressive achievement in an emerging digital age.

Let me share with you some fundamental facts about our mission and motivation.

We survive because we have credible content, and a continuing commitment to you and the LGBT community.  

We are media partners with the Sun Sentinel and CNN, members of the Associated Press, and the Florida Press Association. And we have a partnership with nationally known Keen News Service, who covers national LGBT politics. This week we added a new news partner, the Tallahassee-based News Service of Florida, to assist us with statewide issues in this congressional election year.

Our news writers are journalism school graduates and members of the Society of Professional Journalists. Our entertainment writers and critics are accredited members of validated associations that produce independent and genuine reviews.

Our freelance writers are anything but free. They are all compensated, independent writers, many of whom are members of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. In its four years, the SFGN and its journalists have won numerous awards for critical writing.

In four years, we have published more than 200 issues, printed 10,000 stories online and in print. We cover the full range of LGBT life from breaking news to thoughtful columns; lifestyle and entertainment features, sports and finance. Our headlines are e-blasted to thousands of viewers three times weekly, and our full time website director updates news stories daily.

We also feature a full time social media campaign, posting our stories on Twitter, Facebook, and a host of emerging sites.

As part of our community outreach, we partner with local non-profits to publish their newsletters as inserts in our paper. We have done this in the past year with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the Pride Center, the Poverello Food Bank, Compass, and SunServe.  If you want your foundation to reach 15,000 people and nearly 550 locations, see us.

Our magazine, The Mirror, is published quarterly, and is high in content and culture. Our Arts and Entertainment Guide is bi-annual, highlighting and featuring the ever-growing cultural plateaus that South Florida is reaching.

And then there’s our ‘Guide to the Drive’ featuring Wilton Manors; one of America’s leading gay cities. It provides locals and tourists with a handy pocket pack to popular local venues.

Most importantly, SFGN has become a voice for gay advocacy, illuminating the success and sometimes sadness, in our community. Truly though, it’s been a blessed 48 months. Our LGBT community has thrived, politically and publicly. Sure, there are warts and wounds, and no credible newspaper can look the other way. Still, we are empowered by continued victories for marriage equality and same sex marriages. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell? Already history.

Personally, I am proudest of our ongoing commitment to keep HIV awareness in the news. We publish a bi-annual insert ‘The Spirit’ focusing on the latest news in the HIV community. But even in between we regularly highlight the good works and noble undertakings of our community’s bank of HIV resources. Vigilant we must remain.

Significantly, the newspaper’s success is measured by your remarkable support. Over these past years, these pages have featured more than 500 individual advertisers that have invested in us. It’s not charity. You get bang for your buck. From dentists to lawyers, from realtors to roofers, thank you. Our paper is free. We only make it to the newsstand because of you.

Personally, I get lots of the credit for SFGN. But I have not done this alone. My business partner, Piero Guidugli, has provided guidance and counseling, financing and fiscal solvency since day one. From our first managing editor, Joey Amato, to our current Associate Publisher, Jason Parsley, we have been empowered by a great staff.

But you can’t ever let up. Each week is a new challenge, dealing with everything from a delivery van’s flat tire to a defaced news box, from a last minute breaking news story to a misplaced ad lost at deadline. Our staff repeatedly rises to the occasion. Last year, while I was out ill, our editorial and advertising teams published a 104-page edition, not just the largest LGBT paper in the southeastern United States, but the largest in America.

This is a continuing journey. It is a challenge I relish; an opportunity I cherish.  Thank you for allowing us to share it with you. Don’t ever be afraid to tell us how we are doing. We still publish letters to the editor in print and there is a comments section under every article posted online.

Finally, I hope to see you at our anniversary party next month from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 24, at Tropics.