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STOVALL: Feedback paves the way for Covington News' improvement
Gabe Stovall
Gabriel Stovall

Covington and Newton County, thank you. 

We asked for your feedback. You provided your feedback, and now we can execute some things according to your feedback. 

I appreciate the fact that so many of you took seriously my “ask” toward the end of my first job as this newspaper’s publisher and editor. I asked you to provide me some feedback through the month of September to a series of questions that I hoped would help me pinpoint your perception of the work we do. 

I know you’ll never be able to please everybody. A 100% approval rating in anything is little more than a pipe dream. That will never be our goal. It shouldn’t be anybody’s goal to please everybody. But what we want to be able to do is provide, as best we can, a news product that gives you what the consensus asks for. 

You said you want to see more local news and local content in our pages — particularly in our “Opinion” section. More than one reader specifically said, “shorter opinion pieces with more Newton County area voices and flair.”

Several readers said they wanted to see coverage that reflects the area’s diversity — not just ethnically, but in all areas. You want to know what’s happening in this area’s church and religion scene. You want to see what’s happening among the area’s various cultures. You’re interested in reading stories that go deeper than just the “who” and the “what.” You desire content that delves more into “why.” 

More than anything, we heard you say that you want our news coverage to do an even better job of holding accountable those who govern our area — our city of Covington Council and Newton County Board of Commissioners need your news outlet to help hold them accountable for the decisions they make and actions they take on your behalf. We hear you. 

Thank you for also taking the time to share what you think we do well. For a long time now, this newspaper has been known for second-to-none coverage of our area’s sports scene. And as long as sports editor Phillip B. Hubbard is leading that effort, I don’t see that changing any time soon. 

Some of who you have remarked that you already can notice a bit of change in some of the stories we’re telling. Several of you have said you want to see more human interest and feature stories beyond just sports, that highlights to achievements of students in our area. Others have pointed out how an increase in “lifestyle” type content and a focus on the area’s business and restaurant scene would be nice. 

Let me assure you — these pieces of feedback have not fallen on deaf ears. 

As soon as this week, you’ll see a new writer, Breonna Oliphant, a Covington resident, begin filling our “Food” section with local content that features area restaurants — not just talking about the foods they serve, but also sharing stories about what makes them such an important part of our community’s fabric. 

We’ve also reached out to several respected and knowledgeable individuals in our area who I believe you’ll enjoy hearing from regularly in our Opinions section on both aisles of the political spectrum. 

Interestingly, we’ve had equal criticism from both political sides of leaning to the left or leaning to the right. Rest assured, as publisher, I have absolutely no aspirations of making our newspaper neither a left leaning nor right leaning publication. 

Our job is to inform you to think for yourselves, not try to influence you to think like others.

We’re establishing some exciting partnerships with several colleges and universities across the area that will give us an opportunity to train aspiring journalists and content creators, while also increasing our bandwidth to tell more of the stories you love. 

Later this month, we’ll be rolling out our first “Newton Gen Z’s 20 Leaders of Tomorrow” magazine — a publication that squarely focuses on the achievements of our area’s up-and-comers beyond just the athletic field. 

And, with election season just around the corner, we have some opportunities to create more robust offerings that will help you be informed at the ballot box and beyond, when it comes to the local political scene. 

Some of the suggestions you’ve asked for and some changes we’re planning will take some time. We ask you to be patient with us as we work diligently to make the kinds of improvements that will be noticeable. And yes, I will be a man of my word and notify those readers who won the free subscription for feedback this week. 

Again, I say thank you. It’s only been a couple of months, but I absolutely love this job and this community, and I’m falling deeper in love by the day with my task of providing you the best news and media representation we can offer. 

Please, don’t stop the discussion. My email inbox, phone, office, social media pages are always open to discuss how you feel about the job we’re doing as your local newspaper. And we don’t mind disagreement. We just ask that you keep it as respectful as you can. 

We’ve asked, you’ve spoken. Now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work! 

Gabriel Stovall is publisher and editor of The Covington News. Contact him at gstovall@covnews.com.