First, dear readers, I want to thank you for the outreach and support after being named general manager of the Coastal Courier and the Byran County News. It’s been a humbling experience and I am committed to serving the community.
My promotion was just one of several senior staff changes. I want to welcome back Denise Etheridge, who accepted the role of editor here at the Coastal Courier.
Where’s Managing Editor Jeff Whitten you say? Don’t worry — our old friend hasn’t wandered far. Jeff, who was managing editor of both the Courier and the Bryan County News, will now work exclusively with the News. Until today, he was managing both the Courier and our sister paper in Richmond Hill for roughly the past two years. A daunting task for anyone, even a seasoned newsman like Jeff.
Fortunately, our corporate leaders want to take both hometown publications in a new direction by reviving core community journalistic values. They understand that each community — Liberty/Long counties and Bryan County — are unique, each facing different challenges. Therefore, each newspaper deserves a single editor charged with providing its readers exciting and varied content, as well as being open to engaging with members of their respective communities.
Denise has been a member of the Courier family before, as a staff writer. During her 20 years of community journalism, she had the opportunity to cover every beat at weekly and bi-weekly newspapers across Georgia and the Florida panhandle.
Denise joked that a reporter’s income wouldn’t get her named to Forbe’s billionaire’s list, but all the myriad experiences she’s had as a newswoman are priceless. As a former reporter, I agree that telling the stories of people and places is both a privilege and a responsibility. We at the Courier and the News try to report the trials and successes of our fellow human beings in a compassionate, compelling and fair way. Journalism is tough and not for the morally weak. It is a calling that has brought us here at Morrismultimedia great satisfaction.
I firmly believe that traditional hometown newspapers like ours must have your support to survive. We are your voice. You can’t get in-depth local news on CNN or even any of the Savannah broadcast news stations. We are the guardians and the pursuers of the truth. Often called watchdogs of democracy, we are tasked with keeping our elected officials and other leaders on task. On task to spend taxpayers’ money wisely, on task to be transparent about the decisions they make on your behalf, on task to educate our children, on task to protect all citizens, and on task to lead by example.
Like our community and like newspapers across America, the Courier has had its ups and downs. We are a small business. And like other small businesses, we struggle to make ends meet. Especially now. We must find ways to cut costs so we can better invest in what will improve our product — your hometown newspaper. One decision our company has made is to drop the TV guide effective immediately. We believe most readers don’t benefit from the guide, as many of us simply use our remotes to access on-screen directories when watching cable or satellite television. We wanted you, our readers, to know the reason why.
It is a challenge to continue publishing our newsprint editions of the Courier. The cost of newsprint has gone up. Way, way up due to the 30-percent tariffs our federal government has imposed on Canadian newsprint. Being a small, hometown paper our budget stretches only so far. Rather than pass additional costs on to you, our readers and advertisers, we must let go of those expenses that do not provide you the best possible content.
We at the Courier are in a period of transition, striving to adapt to new forms of communication. Any one of us can find the world at our fingertips — via our smartphones. It is up to us at the Courier to provide you information about your little corner of the world. Whether it be at your fingertips accessing our website or in actual newsprint that you hold and casually read over a steaming cup of joe. We want to hear from you. Tell us what we are doing right, and even what we are doing wrong (but please be gentle; don’t shout).
We all live in the same hometown. Our kids attend the same schools. We shop at the same stores, get our hair cut at the same salons or barbershops, eat in the same restaurants. We pay our rent just as you do, and we all pay taxes for the same services.
Like the late, great and kind Mr. Rogers in his sweater and sneakers, we are asking to be your neighbor. So, how can the Courier be your favorite neighbor?
Leon is the general manager of the Coastal Courier and the Bryan County News. Patty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.