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Posted: March 15, 2014 6:54 p.m.

Telling it straight

Last Wednesday, as we were reading our home-delivered local newspaper, we were shocked to find out county officials were moving forward with a plan to pay up to $20,000 of taxpayer money to hire a firm to write press releases and handle social media.

Commissioner Lanier Sims, who seems to fancy himself a marketing expert, said nobody but the county can tell its story.

Actually, commissioner, The Covington News has been telling the story of the Newton County Board of Commissioners for more than a century. The difference between The News and a PR firm is that The News reports the good and the bad, instead of the handpicked items commissioners and county higher ups want reported.

We’d find it amusing – if it wasn’t such a sad statement – that county officials would be willing to pay $20,000 to a firm located outside of Newton County, when the board has refused to contribute to The News’ live streaming of board meetings.

We’ve also offered them the chance to use our extensive social media network – we have one of the largest Facebook followings in the county – to promote county happenings, but there’s been a reluctance to do so.

Finally, we’ve offered county and city elected officials the opportunity numerous times to write columns and stories about the positive things happening in their communities, and those come flowing in the rate of a handful or fewer per year. Guest columns would allow officials to give their unfiltered view in their own words, but the option is almost never exercised.

If the board is so intent on moving forward with this mission to waste $20,000 on its publicity, might we humbly recommend using local PR groups in the county so our local tax money at least stays where it belongs.

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