5-22 JM Column

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 24, 2004

On Friday mornings, employees at most businesses float through the front door a few minutes early, laugh when the Coke machine takes their money, and offer little grief over particularly dull projects.

On Friday mornings at our office, employees ram through the front door in armored trucks, throw toner cartridges at the Coke machine, and have little patience for monotonous requests.

At Boone Publications Inc. — our incorporated name — Friday’s always come too fast. Not only do we publish our weekend edition of The Demopolis Times every Friday, we also publish three of our four shoppers — the Clarke, Greene/Hale and Wilcox County Shoppers Guides. (We publish our Marengo County shopper on Mondays.)

Email newsletter signup

As you might imagine, compiling more than 300 advertisements on one day and writing enough copy for our largest edition of the week offers an enormous challenge (translated “stress” by employees) on Fridays.

One of the toughest jobs here is that of our composing department. Kimberly Lomax and Jennifer Lawver, the two graphic designers at our office, leave work anywhere from 8 p.m. Friday to 2 a.m. on Saturday. They build all the ads in our newspapers and shoppers, and they do an incredibly good job. Jennifer, expecting her first child, will leave us in a couple of weeks to have her baby. Kim, I hope, stays with us for as long as she wants.

With the exciting atmosphere around our office on Fridays, we often struggle to see the small steps of success made over the past seven months. Back in October 2003, we published The Times twice a week and the Marengo County shopper once a week. Now we publish The Times five days a week and own four direct-mailed shoppers with a circulation of more than 47,000 once a week.

You can imagine how the 13 employees at The Times often find themselves driving in armored cars. But today (Friday, May 21) something made me stop and appreciate the work we’ve tried to accomplish at BPI and The Demopolis Times.

Each morning, Kim or Jennifer prepares the news pages for The Times. They do everything from placing ads in the correct sections to filling in the page numbers and dates. This morning, Kim updated the volume number of our newspaper (found on the left-hand rail of Page 1.)

“Guess what, Jonathan,” Kim said. “This is our 100th paper.”

That meant very little to me at 7:45 a.m. In fact, it didn’t register at all.

A few minutes later, I finally caught on to what Kim said. Since becoming a daily newspaper on Nov. 6, 2003, we have published 100 editions.

I’m not sure why 100 is such a meaningful number. We don’t get excited (after the age of 13) when we count 100 pennies and figure out we have a buck. We adults don’t consider it a prodigious achievement when we can count to 100. For that matter, we consider it a troubling waste of time.

Nevertheless, publishing 100 editions of a daily newspaper in Demopolis marks an achievement every member of our staff should appreciate. I’m thankful for the work they’ve done, and as we all grow, that work will continue to improve.

Marking this achievement also comes with a subtle dose of reality. As expected, there are some in the Demopolis community who openly discuss their trite disdain of the changes made at The Times. In part, the negativity comes from a deep-rooted sense of community delight that protects the walls of our city. Many want The Demopolis Times to report strictly on the news of Demopolis.

On the other hand, I must admit that every negative comment received over the past seven months has been greeted with 70 positives.

Just two days ago, after the publication of one edition, a woman interested in the news of Greensboro called in a more-than-upset manner. She wanted to know why we hadn’t covered a specific event.

In the end, I explained our staffing situation that particular night and asked that she continue to call or e-mail every time she knows of an important occasion in Greensboro.

Another man drove from Sawyerville to Demopolis on Thursday just to thank us for reporting on a specific event. In a sense, that provided the icing for the work we’ve done in our past 100 editions.

The people in Demopolis must understand that our newspaper can play an enormous role in the growth of our community. As we continue to build subscribers in our four surrounding counties, we offer those people a publication that not only discusses news but also provides an avenue for local businesses to market their products.

I didn’t ask, but I’d almost guarantee that the man who drove to Demopolis from Sawyerville bought something while he was in town. Maybe it was a hamburger and a tank of gas (at which point he’d then be broke.) Maybe he drove by a car lot and picked out his next purchase.

Giving people of our area a solid news product helps strengthen our communication. Giving people the option to spend money in our cities helps strengthen our economy. And as we’ve all learned, communicating with each other only serves to strengthen the region as a whole.

We appreciate the people who have supported us for the past 100 editions. We look forward to growing with the people of Marengo, Greene, Hale, Perry and Sumter counties over the next 100 editions.