HALL COLUMN: Cleaning out the ol’ notebook
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 21, 2007
This and that from here and there, just not quite everything from
Hillary impresses me for once
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When Gov. Bill Clinton was running for president, I was one of his
biggest non-voting supporters. I remember driving home from my fast-
food restaurant job in Tupelo, Miss., listening to election returns
on the radio, cheering all the time. I stayed up way too late that
night to watch his acceptance speech. His presidency held a lot of
promise to the youth of our nation, and that night was the beginning.
It is hard for me to believe that his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton,
inspires young people the way he did. For certain, she does little
But I will give credit where credit is due, and that is over her
stance on the Iraqi war &045; specifically over her voting for it. She
refuses to apologize. She has said many times that she wants to end
the war. She has spoken out against the troop surge under
consideration. She has even said that if she knew now about Iraqi
weapons of mass destruction what she knew then that she would have
But the lady whose advisers have told her polls &045; and the Democratic
primary voters &045; demand her to say, &8220;I’m sorry,&8221; refuses to do so.
Aides have told various press outlets that she refuses to apologize
for the vote because she takes her duties seriously. She voted the
way she did with the knowledge she had, and she will not now change
her tune just to appease voters.
That’s impressive. Compared to Sen. John McCain, who now likes
ethanol subsidies; former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who now
thinks abortion is a bad idea; and former Sen. John Edwards, who is
sorry he voted the way he did on the Iraq war, Hillary is a welcome
contrast to these cow-toeing politicians.
Web presence lacking, we know
So how did I first meet The Times? I knew Todd Carpenter, president
of Boone Newspapers, was about to offer me a job, but I didn’t know
where. We had a morning conference call scheduled, and I was set.
The night before, I went and bought a map of Alabama. That morning, I
left out of my office just before the prescribed time and headed to a
place where I could sit in my car, talk and look at a map.
The problem was, I didn’t know where I was going. Ironically, I ended
up behind a closed-down Bennigan’s, off of I-55 in Jackson, Miss.
The Demopolis Times, it was to be, I learned from that call. I
located the city on the map, and I liked the location &045; centrally
located to my wife’s family and to my mother.
When I got back to the office, I pulled up the newspaper’s Web site.
Impressed I was not. Neither was our managing editor, Gennie
Phillips, when I was recruiting her. Ditto for our staff writer,
Brandon Glover, when I lured him to town.
That makes it all the more satisfying for the three of us as we
prepare to launch a redesigned Web site, complete with multimedia
offerings and daily blogs.
We’re trying to build a true news companion to the newspaper, a place
where you don’t just get a rehash of the print product but you get
exclusive content, where readers can interact about important topics
and an outlet for coverage of local events from a reliable source as
a news happens.
Rest assured, you’ll hear more about it as we get closer to the
Fill out the survey and win
Dr. Arthur Ogden stopped me in Wal-Mart last night and asked me about
the survey we are running.
So, what’s up with it? Just what it says. We are trying to get your
thoughts on what we do. The newspaper industry is evolving rapidly,
and we want to position ourselves to stay ahead of the trends.
We’re also not afraid of hearing constructive criticism. Your input
makes us a better newspaper.
So, please, take time to fill it out so we can hear from you. It
won’t be the last time we ask for your advice and input, because when
we say we want to be your community newspaper, we truly mean it.
We’re The Demopolis Times
Last week, several of our readers came up to me to say how childish
they thought two of our weekly brethren were in taking potshots at us.
The first was Tom Jones, former editor of The Blackbelt Gazette, in
his infrequent column there. He accused us of sensationalizing the
coverage of Mayor Cecil Williamson’s indictments.
The second was the The Democrat-Reporter in one of its editorials. It
basically said it was the only newspaper to ever break a story in
this area, and that we are just a &8220;so-called&8221; daily.
While I grant you The Democrat-Reporter has a great history of
investigative reporting, I
question their current ethical standing
to criticize any other publication or media outlet if for no other
reason than they would stoop so low as to use the word &8220;retard&8221; in a
For Jones, it is laughable. He has been around long enough to know
that design plays an increasingly important role in newspapers of all
sizes. Funny that it did not bother him when we used the same simple
design technique in the coverage of a tragic multi-car accident or
for the discovery of what could be the city’s original cistern or for
the State of the Union address.
I have absolutely no desire to get into a tit-for-tat with either of
these newspapers, because we are far too busy doing what we do to be
bothered by nonsense. But I do want to say two things:
4First, I’m proud of what this staff has accomplished in the last
eight months. They have taken a newspaper that was not respected in
the community and was a dwindling property and turned it around. They
have made it a newspaper that breaks news, covers everyday people and
provides advertisers with results. So when someone questions our
integrity &045; this staff’s integrity &045; I’m going to defend them. This
staff works too hard not to have me do them that simple courtesy.
4Second, I’ve always written by the motto that if you are going to be
bold enough to criticize someone in print, then you shouldn’t be so
cowardly as not to call them by name. Mr. Jones and The Democrat-
Reporter would be wise to do the same.
Sam R. Hall is editor and publisher of The Times. He can be reached
by e-mail to email@example.com.