Editorial: Please allow me to introduce ourselves

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Welcome to the first edition of the future Lovely County Citizen. You'll notice some changes in the way things look and read this week, and you will continue to see those changes evolve, grow and improve in the coming weeks as we work to update the design, content and feel of your first and best free community newspaper.

The Citizen will soon install a new permanent editor. In the interim, gifted longtime writer C.D. White -- who passionately wants the best for the newspaper and its readers -- has agreed to stay on to help during the transition.

She and the Citizen staff -- and eventually, the new editor -- will be making the day-to-day decisions on news coverage and editorial content. As managing editor of the newspapers in Carroll County, I will assist her when needed, and we will work together to provide the best reporting, the best photography and the best design possible.

We feel that you, our readers in Eureka Springs, deserve a top-quality, fun and dynamic Citizen that matches the personality of the town. Our goals: a modern, 21st Century newspaper design, accurate news articles and the cleanest-written, easiest-to-read stories you will find in this area; and, most importantly, an aggressive, educated and empowered attitude about covering the people, events and government in this city.

We also promise to bring you the unfettered truth, regardless of how pointed it is or whose feelings it may hurt.

We also want to address one issue that we know is important both to our staff and the community: This newspaper is operated by a family-owned company that believes in empowering the local staff to make all editorial decisions. The Rust family has a long history of supporting and personally practicing community journalism, and that includes making sure that local readers are well-served in a fair and impartial manner. Management absolutely has not dictated local news decisions in the past and has no intention of doing so in the future. (But you should already know this, given some of the recent staff-written editorial comments in recent weeks targeting the management itself!)

This week's truth focuses on the need to clarify some of those comments -- for the record. There were a few points that the former staff, in their haste to pass judgment and take sides, failed to mention:

Outsourcing, while it clearly has become a bad word in the political arena, is a reality in today's down economy, like it or not. Rust Communications, just like many other companies around the nation, has faced challenges during these tough economic times. The fact that Rust was able to formulate a production plan to reduce costs without cutting a SINGLE LOCAL JOB should have earned the company a standing ovation -- NOT a taking-to-task by its own editorial staff.

In fact, the company's plan and commitment is to expand its efforts in the local market and to create more jobs. This follows a pattern of support by Rust for the local community as exemplified by the seven annual company meetings that have been held in Eureka Springs, bringing employees from across the country to enjoy its attractions and amenities.

The plan now in place allows the company to focus resources and staff on local news coverage and local customer service -- the things we do best.

Speaking of outsourcing, let's not make a complicated issue too black-and-white. How much of your home was "outsourced" or made outside the United States? Or your wardrobe even? Or how about the car you drive?

A recent ABC News program asked an American family big on American-made products to go through their home and examine, one by one, where things were made, and to remove anything not made in the United States.

Wanna know what was left when they finished? Sad, but true: one small glass vase and the kitchen sink.

The good news about your Lovely County Citizen is that an overwhelming majority of it is still locally produced, and it is still 100 percent locally managed and locally controlled.

The good news gets even better when you consider the changes the Citizen is undergoing and the improvements that are being made to serve you, the readers, with a more fun and better-quality newspaper.

Now, enjoy the rest of your Citizen, and let us know what you think; we always welcome reader feedback.