No revolving door will hit me

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 11, 2006

Sam R. Hall / Publisher

The most heard phrase from people I’ve meet in my short time in Demopolis:

“Don’t let the revolving door hit you in the butt on the way out.”

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That’s OK. I understand. The last couple of publishers didn’t hang around that long. Neither did the last couple of editors. And we’ve had a few reporters and ad representatives come and go over the last year, too.

Truth is: We’ll see more staff members come and go over the next few years. Some will go on to bigger markets, others to different professions and others still will just move because its time to move.

That, unfortunately, is the reality of most newspapers.

But I get it. The revolving door here at The Times has been working overtime as of late. That’s not good for the health of a newspaper or the community it serves.

Let me put your minds at ease. This is one publisher who is not going anywhere anytime soon. Sure, you may have heard that before, but don’t hold the sins of my predecessors against me. Give me the chance to prove it.

First, my wife and I are in the process of buying a house. Let me say that the housing market in Demopolis is alive and well.

I was pleasantly surprised at the number of new homes being built. The market is fluid and active, which is a sign of the growth in this area.

I’m also selling our house in Mississippi. Hopefully by Monday I’ll have a contract on it. With us being homeless in Forest, we’re pretty much committed to moving to Demopolis.

In all seriousness, though, the people here have been gracious and inviting since I’ve arrived.

I’ve started to make my rounds by getting out to meet the business, civic and government leaders of the area. It’s going to be a slow process, but I’ll get to know as many as I can in the coming weeks.

As for the newspaper, you’ll start to see some fresh changes. We want The Times to get back to what it should be – the newspaper for Demopolis and Marengo County. It’s kind of like rebuilding a football team. You start with the basics and move from there.

We won’t abandon our commitment to be a regional daily newspaper for west Alabama and the Black Belt, but we’re not going to sacrifice our commitment to our hometown and county either.

Our football coverage is about to kick off (excuse the pun), and with it you’ll see some expanded coverage pieces. We’ll do previews, game coverage and summary coverage each week.

We’re also expanding our coverage of the University of West Alabama. UWA is a great supporter of west Alabama, and we plan to be a great supporter of UWA.

A facelift is also in store for The Times. In fact, it’s more reconstructive surgery than a facelift. Our new look will debut in the coming months. With our redesign will come more attention to the news, sports, features and opinions that matter most to this area.

I came up through the editorial ranks, so my first love and passion will always be the printed product. I firmly believe that the editorial product is our public face, voice and conscience.

That said, I want The Times and our accompanying Shoppers Guides to be an effective marketing medium for area businesses.

Our advertising, circulation and composing staffs are spending countless hours retooling our approach to our advertising product. We want to become marketing partners with the businesses who choose to advertise in our pages. In today’s world of mass media and global competition, we understand that our marketing medium must be even more competitive than ever.

Our Shoppers Guides will continue to be the only advertising product that provides comprehensive coverage throughout Marengo, Greene, Hale, Clarke and Wilcox counties. No other publication can offer what we do, but we refuse to rest on our laurels. We want to improve our effectiveness so our customers can improve their bottom lines.

Finally, we’re overhauling our online presence. This fall, we will deliver a Web site with up-to-date technology, including streaming video, podcasts and news feeds. Our commitment is to become a true media force reflective of the progressive communities we serve.

I’m sure we’ll flub some stuff from time to time, but you have my word that everyone here has one goal in mind: To achieve a level of journalistic excellence representative of the community we serve.

And when we’re there, I plan to stay around for a while to enjoy it.

Sam R. Hall is publisher of The Demopolis Times. He can be reached at (334) 289-4017 or by e-mail to