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Kissing the Blarney Stone: One year of progress
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It was two years ago this month that Charles Hill Morris Jr., the publisher of the Covington News, gave me the opportunity to come back from my self-imposed newspaper exile.

It was in April that I assumed my duties as General Manager of the Covington News.

When I arrived in town, we cruised around the area ,and as we rode through Rockdale County, Charles Hill and I talked about the possibility of starting an online newspaper in the county.

Nine months later, we started to pursue that thought and brought Tisa Washington onboard, who had experience working with online papers.

You may read from time to time that newspapers are going the way of dinosaurs; of course that was said when radio came on the scene and then television and even the fax.

Charles Hill and I believe that some newspapers, such as the large metro dailies, may go away or be reduced to strictly community newspapers. But we believe strongly that the future of the newspaper will be the strong community newspapers: papers that just report their own community news. We also believe that the community newspaper will be supported by a strong Web site that will allow the newspaper to bring up-to-the minute community news to the community it serves.

You will not find this type of information anywhere else.

We use this principle with the Covington News three times a week. Rarely do we ever run wire stories — it is all local— and we update daily on our Web site.

As a result of this philosophy, the Covington paper is growing again and the Web site is booming.

It was with this commitment that we felt that in addition to a Web newspaper for Rockdale County, that we could also produce a physical newspaper that would use the very principals that I just wrote about.

Tisa was game for the challenge, and we asked Annette Godwin to move over and take over advertising. I was honored to be named the Publisher.

In less than two months time, we put together a 10,700 customer distribution system, found a printer who could produce an all color publication and hit the streets. One year ago this month, we became your new community news partner.

Because of other commitments, Tisa left and Michele Kim took over as editor. She seems to have cloned herself, because folks tell us they see her everywhere.

From the beginning, we were received with warm enthusiasm; we were more than surprised and grateful.

Our coverage of only local news and sports was the right ingredient for success.

I found out a long time ago that for a community newspaper to be accepted by the community it serves, its people have to be involved. I also found out long ago that if you are going to have a strong opinion pages that makes people think and comment, you need to be out in the community helping catch the spears and bouquets that flow from that page and you also have to give the readers the same amount of space your editor takes to respond either way.

One major key to the success of any business is its people. We are fortunate to have people who believe in the mission of the paper, who give of themselves in the community, who have a pride that cannot be taught or bought.

We also have a collection of local writers who have something to say about their community. They do this because they are invested in the community and believe that Rockdale County wants and will support a community newspaper with local voices.

We are more than proud to serve you; I don’t think you will ever see any of our folks around town without a smile and the attitude of wanting to help you.

As a publisher, after 45 years of working in this industry, what I like about the concept of the Rockdale News is this: it is designed to change just like a community changes and our main responsibility is to see that it never becomes stagnant. I like the enthusiasm for the Rockdale community that leaps from its pages; that enthusiasm is brought about by your participation.

I like the fact that the words "No we can’t," or "That’s not how we do it," are not in our vocabulary.

This may sound corny for an old newspaper pro, but I look at the Rockdale News, after all these years, as the prototype of all future newspapers.

I personally am not only proud of our paper and staff but the community of Rockdale itself. There is such a vibrant can-do homey feeling here. We at the Rockdale News all promise to continue to work hard in order for our pages to continue to reflect that energy and spirit.