At the helm as the newsletter’s third editor is Karen McEver.
BARTOW, Fla. – A lot has changed in the Florida Citrus industry since 1940. But, at least one thing remains the same.
For 75 years, the Florida Citrus Reporter has delivered its weekly, legal-sized, goldenrod-hued newsletter to Florida Citrus growers across the state. Inside: wall-to-wall coverage of an industry in constant flux.
Started by Jack Gurnett, the Florida Citrus Reporter began at a time when there was no other source for in-depth industry news. Over the years, it attracted thousands of subscribers, allowing it to continue as one of the longest-running independent and advertising-free newsletters in the state.
Today, helmed by its third editor, Karen McEver, the newsletter continues its tradition of unbiased reporting.
“I think (the readers) trust the newsletter to be honest and straightforward and it has always been that way,” McEver said. “Someone once told me that the newsletter holds up a mirror to the industry so that it can see itself.”
Doug Ackerman, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus, describes McEver’s work as “must-read” content for the industry.
“She fills a void, and she does it with integrity and her own unique perspective,” Ackerman said.
McEver became involved with the Florida Citrus Reporter around 1980 and began writing the newsletter in 2000, shortly before the death of its second editor and Gurnett’s daughter, Nancy Gurnett Hardy.
Even after 35 years in the industry, McEver said she still gets surprised.
“It is an unfolding story,” McEver said. “I think we will always be learning things in this industry.”
One thing that doesn’t surprise her: the industry’s ability to overcome.
“There is an unquestionable collective intelligence in this industry that has always proven to withstand whatever trials they face,” McEver said. “That’s inspiring.”
In fact, it’s the people McEver interacts with everyday that keep her going.
“Generation after generation they retain that same tenacity that I heard Jack Gurnett originally talk about,” McEver said.
While McEver strives to remain unbiased in her reporting, it’s almost impossible to not feel the highs and lows of the industry she covers so closely.
“I assure you I panic along with every grower who’s fruit is falling off the tree,” McEver said.
Still, McEver continues to report on how the industry is changing once again, due to citrus greening. And, she keeps hope.
“No other place has invested the kind of research dollars we have,” McEver said. “Do I think the industry will survive? Yes. Do I think the face of the industry will change? Yes.”
Either way, the Florida Citrus Reporter will continue to report on it all, most likely in the same traditional, paper and “snail mail” format it always has.
“Growers love the hard copy,” McEver said. “They want to hold it in their hands.”
The Florida Citrus Commission passed a resolution at its January 21 meeting honoring the Florida Citrus Reporter for its 75 years of dedication to the industry and named McEver an honorary Florida Citrus grower.