Rupert Howell Column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 6, 2009

National Newspaper Week helps us define who we are, what we do

Don’t want to sound like I’m patting our industry’s own back, but it’s National Newspaper Week and if I’m going to say it, now’s the time.

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We are the press. But more than that, we are the local press. Newspapers invented community journalism.

We are not even kin to the more modern designer media agencies and outlets that spew out their version of the day’s happenings in real time, slanted toward the market of those they wish to reach.

Don’t confuse us with the media. We’re part of it, sure, but we prefer to be called the press.

We do have a gargantuan printing press in back of our building where we print approximately 300,000 pages of Panola County news each week. That doesn’t include news we print for the newspapers in the counties of Quitman, Tunica, Yalobusha and Marion County, Arkansas.

We’re here for the long run, unlike the suburban agencies and electronic media outlets that come to town only in the event of disaster, tragedy or an occasional state championship title.

Our staff is diverse in personal political leanings — some left, some right and some indifferent. If given the choice of hiring a completely unbiased writer or one with lesser writing skills but enthusiasm about their duties, I would go for enthusiasm every time.

We’re also not interested in the dirty details. We report the who, how, where, what, when and why. Excuse us if we don’t get it all the first time. We will have another opportunity in our next edition, or the next or on our website,

We try to keep our opinions in personal columns on the editorial pages. When more than one of us “conspire” on an opinion, it’s called an editorial, is unsigned and is considered the newspaper’s stand on the issue. If you don’t like it, write a letter to the editor. Newspapers also invented interactive journalism.

Please excuse us if we sometimes fall short. Or let our emotions show in what we write and cover. Or if we omit a name or event. You see, we live here, too. Our children go to local schools. We go to your church. We eat at the same restaurants.

Our job is to report the news, to be a watchdog over government, provide entertainment, and promote a healthy community where our readers can live, prosper and improve their surroundings for generations to come. We know our market and it’s Panola County, Mississippi.

That’s what we try to do with each publication and do it with compassion.