I’ve made it as publisher of The Covington News a week now, which surely beats the expectations of some, right?
It’s been a great week as I’ve walked through town and met so many wonderful people, all of them welcoming and rightly proud of their community.
Sam Ramsey told me all about his furniture store, and the growth of Covington through the years.
Kat at Bread and Butter served up great coffee last weekend as the lovely Carla and I enjoyed poking around town over the weekend, along with my aunt Val as she visited.
I figured out my dry cleaner is an Ohio State guy who remembers well the last time the Buckeyes and my beloved Crimson Tide played. Unfortunately, I remember it too.
And I returned from lunch Tuesday to find Judges John Ott and Horace Johnson waiting on me in the lobby at our office – certainly not an expected sight, and not one for the faint of heart, for sure.
Meeting these fine men and women is just a start to what I hope will be a long relationship. But since it’s impossible to meet all of our readers in a week, let me take this opportunity to tell you a little about myself and what I hope we can accomplish here at the paper.
As I mentioned in a story about my appointment as publisher in last week’s paper, I come to Newton County after four years total just to the north at The Walton Tribune. Four times in seven years, The Tribune has been named the best paper of its size in the state, and I hope we’re able to bring that cache to The Covington News.
I came to love newspapers at a young age, growing up in Albertville, Alabama. (If you have eagle eyes, you’ll recognize Albertville as being stamped on some of the fire hydrants around the square in downtown Covington. It’s the Fire Hydrant Capital of the World, thanks to the Mueller plant.)
There is one woman in my hometown who tells of giving me change to buy a copy of the local paper, The Sand Mountain Reporter, when I was something like 3 or 4 years old out on a walk with my mom. Later I worked there as a student in high school and college, and that’s where I met Patrick Graham, who is now the owner of The News.
If you haven’t met Patrick yet, let me tell you, you’re in for a treat. He has a proven track record of making newspapers better, and the same is going to hold true for this one. He’s invested in Covington, Newton County and The News, just as he did with The Walton Tribune a few years ago.
Patrick and I agree wholeheartedly in the need for quality local journalism. We also have a core belief that when a newspaper works well, there is absolutely no better investment for a business’s advertising dollars. Why? Because it still works, no matter what people will tell you about social media, websites, billboards or whatever else you want to consider.
Printed newspapers and their websites remain the No. 1 source for local news among Georgians, ahead of television news – and really, how much local news do you get on Atlanta television about Newton County anyway? – and way ahead of national TV, social media, word of mouth and everything else.
We can do that better with a robust print product with current local stories you’re not getting anywhere else. It’s also imperative we put out products, like magazines, that are second to none. Not to brag (OK, maybe a little), but we did that in Walton County and I see no reason we can’t do it here. You’ll like what you see.
And if you haven’t checked out our new website, do so. It’s very impressive for a small weekly paper.
Over the coming weeks, I’ll be using this space to ask specific questions about what The News does well and what needs improvement. In the meantime, though, please feel free to contact me – phone, email, Twitter, stopping me on the street, whatever – to tell me how this newspaper can serve you better, be it as a reader, advertiser, corporate citizen or just occupant of Usher Street.
I can’t promise we’ll make every change, but I do promise to listen.
David Clemons is the editor and publisher of The Covington News. His email address is email@example.com. Twitter: @scoopclemons.