ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Welcome to 9 Questions with…, a new regular feature in which we’ll get to know some of the Bay area’s movers and shakers a little better. It could be a politician, an artist, a first responder, a bartender—just about anyone, really. This week’s subject is journalist, author and publisher of weekly newspaper the Gabber, Cathy Salustri. Is there someone you’d like to answer 9 Questions? Let us know!

What You Need To Know

  • Spectrum Bay News 9's series spotlights notable members of the Tampa Bay community

  • Local journalist Cathy Salustri owns weekly newspaper the Gabber

  • Check back every week for a new "9 Questions with..."

Are you a Tampa Bay native? If not, where are you from?

I was born in Sleepy Hollow, New York, but have lived in Pinellas County, except for college, since 1980, when I was 7.

How would you describe your job or claim to fame?

I write about Florida history and travel, and I own the Gabber newspaper. In 2017, the New York Times wrote about my book, "Backroads of Paradise," and that's probably as close to any sort of "fame" as I'll get, outside of my dog, who thinks I'm a superhero because I cook bacon.

What’s your favorite Tampa Bay restaurant?

Hands down, PJ's Oyster Bar on St. Pete Beach. The owners are an American success story, and they have the freshest and least expensive seafood on any of the beaches. My husband and I would go there all the time while we were dating, and we still get there as often as we can. The pandemic has changed how often we eat at restaurants, but when we do go out to eat, it's almost always here.  

Do you have a personal Tampa Bay “secret spot” and/or “hidden treasure”?

There's a saying that travel writers kill what they love, so I'm hesitant to answer this, but one that's pretty well known is Jose Martí park in Ybor City. It's the site of a former boarding house where Cuban-Americans plotted the revolution, and the park has soil from each of the Cuban provinces. Most people know it's there, but fewer people realize its significance on the world stage, or know that the Cuban government owns the land. When I worked in Ybor, I'd take my dachshund for walks and tell her, "Come on, let's go to Cuba!" and as a result she has an odd Pavlovian association with "going to Cuba."

What is your favorite Tampa Bay tradition?

Every night at sunset, the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum rings a bell. We have the best sunsets in Florida, and it's a fitting tribute to the day's end. 

What’s one thing many people don’t know about you that you’re willing to share with us?

I can't even TALK about "The Velveteen Rabbit" without crying.

If you could change one thing about the Tampa Bay area or your community specifically, what would it be?

I'd love to see the city and its residents take more action to protect Boca Ciega Bay. 

What made you decide to buy the Gabber?

Ahhhh some days I ask myself that very question. It's part of what makes Gulfport, Gulfport, and I couldn't imagine Gulfport without it. It was my home for something like 13 years, and the city’s a better place with the paper than without it. 

How important is hyperlocal news coverage in the age of online journalism, Nextdoor and neighborhood Facebook groups?

If "all politics is local," I'd argue that all news is local, too. I predict that in 20 years all we'll have left in print are larger papers—the New York Times and Washington Post, for example—and hyperlocal weeklies. You can get vetted, fact-based state and regional news from multiple sources, but who's going to tell you what your city council said about paving your street or why your water bill will increase? Facebook and Nextdoor are wonderful tools, but the guy posting about what he perceives as a crime wave on NextDoor may not have the same education and training as journalists and probably doesn't adhere to the Society of Professional Jounalists’ code of ethics.