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Graham: Papers work together on Facebook coverage
Covington News, Walton Tribune team up on big announcement
U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, center, answers questions from Walton Tribune Managing Editor Cosby Woodruff, left, and Covington News Managing Editor Jackie Gutknecht on Wednesday afternoon, March 7, 2018, at the State Capitol in Atlanta. - photo by Patrick Graham

I couldn’t have been more proud.

When you read the front page stories in today’s edition from Managing Editor Jackie Gutknecht and the column on this page from Editor and Publisher David Clemons, you are going to see a lot of comments about the cooperation between the different players in the economic development effort to land the Facebook project, particularly the ones in Walton and Newton counties. I’m going to let Jackie and David tell you about the importance this cooperation had to the successful outcome achieved in their pieces.

Here, I’m going to tell you the story behind the story. I’m going to tell you the one about the cooperation between our two papers in order to deliver this important news to our readers first and best.

I’ve said before we dedicate more resources to covering Newton County than anyone in the world. Some consider this hyperbole on my part, but, actually, it is an undisputed fact. We have 12 people on staff here whose sole job is to get you a newspaper once a week filled with everything you need to know and want to know about Newton County, and we’ve got another approximately dozen people under contract whose sole job is to deliver the newspaper to you. No other news source even comes close to dedicating those kinds of resources to serving the coverage needs of the people of Newton County. No one. Period.

The same can be said for The Walton Tribune, which is similar in staff and carrier force size to its sister paper, and its desire to serve the people of Walton County.

On Wednesday, we combined the resources of both papers to make sure the readers of our respective publications were getting the best possible coverage of this important announcement. There was a gaggle of media there from Atlanta and elsewhere, but there wasn’t anyone else there from Walton County or Newton County present for the announcement. At least none that I saw.

So there were the two managing editors, Cosby Woodruff from The Tribune and Jackie Gutknecht from The News, running around the West Wing of the State Capitol making sure to get the interviews done they needed for their respective stories. Then there were the two publishers. David was filming on Facebook Live so that both papers could stream the press conference through their respective Facebook pages. No irony there, huh? In the meantime, I was taking still shots both papers would be using online and in their respective weekend editions.

All to make sure our valued readers were on top of this state/regional/national story taking place right here in their backyard.

It felt just like real, old-fashioned newspapering, even though we were using a lot of tools not available to our counterparts back in the day. The response we received online and on Facebook tells me our readers appreciated the real, old-fashioned effort.

Like I said, I couldn’t have been more proud.

 

As the Facebook announcement was being made Wednesday afternoon at the Capitol building in Atlanta, you heard state and company officials bandying a lot of local names about as the primaries in helping bring the social media giant to our neck of the woods.

Credit to Development Authority of Walton County Executive Director Shane Short, Newton County’s Commercial Development Director Serra P. Hall and many others locally who have been working in tandem with their counterparts in the other three counties included in the Joint Development Authority to get this done.

This was a courtship nearly a year in the making, and you could see both satisfaction and even some relief on display as the deal was officially pushed across the finish line.

Patrick Graham is the owner of The Covington News and The Walton Tribune. His email address is pgraham@covnews.com.