I say that knowing full well there are many folks asking why in the world I would jump head first into a profession that has been declared dead for many years. In fact, some have argued I simply am too optimistic when it comes to community newspapers. It’s just funny.
How many communities across the nation have newspapers like the Bryan County News? Granted not as many as there were at one time, but think how much those newspapers mean to those communities. City and county government, schools, churches, sports, arrests, obituaries, real estate and many more things are all of what a local newspaper should provide. More importantly, a community newspaper should be the instrument of the residents of the city and county.
So when I hear comments from folks asking me about coming on board, I think I’ve said something that has surprised them. “If I won the lottery, I would start or buy a community newspaper and make it exactly into the vision of what I believe a community newspaper can, and should, be,” I have said.
When I talk about what a local newspaper can be, understand it also includes digital components as well. News in “real time” is important and our digital platform will enable us to do that, but I also believe the printed edition will still be an integral part, and if anything, it is a key part of my vision for the Bryan County News.
It’s still funny.
My wife laughed out loud when I told her I had accepted the Publisher’s position with the Bryan County News. She laughed because she knew it had been on my mind for several years. Yes, I have been everything from a reporter to a publisher, but that was mostly when newspapers owned the world. I know I made a difference then, but the thought of returning our newspapers here in our communities to their former prominence was too much of an opportunity to pass up. It was a chance to see my vision to its fullest. “Well, we didn’t win the lottery, but you are getting to do something you love,” she said and we both laughed again. We talked about how we have roamed sidelines at football games with her keeping stats and me taking pictures. We laughed some more when we remembered all the other fantastic people we had met over the years and how important the communities and towns we served were to us.
What’s not funny.
Newspapers have dug themselves a pretty big hole, but the successful ones are led by people who have a passion and vision to bring them back to where they belong. There’s no mistaking we have tons of work to do, and, we will have to do it with a scaled down staff to start, but we are going to get it done.
It’s almost cliché for the new guy to come in and make big promises. That’s not what I’m doing. I’m saying we have tons of work to do to make this newspaper the very best it can be, both print and digital. To give the communities the newspaper they deserve will take an effort from all of us.
I mentioned I have a vision. No need to lay out details, they will come later. It will work, and we will get to where we and the community want us to be.
I’m very proud to be here. I’m excited about what we can accomplish.
And when we do…..I’ll laugh.
If you see me, say “Hey!”
Dee McLelland is the Publisher of the Bryan County News and the Coastal Courier.