Thursday, November 20, 2014
   
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The Tunica Times • P.O. Box 308/986 Magnolia Street, Tunica, MS 38676

Editorial: Personal attacks and all...we’re not going anywhere

A newspaper knows it’s doing something right when those in positions of power begin to resort to personal attacks instead of defending their actions and the policies that they espouse.

Officials are always welcome to discuss our coverage and/or opinions with us and express their views through Letters to the Editor.

In point of fact, within the past year, one person in authority outright refused to speak with us.

Last month, a newspaper publisher from the metropolis to the north made a presentation to the county Board of Supervisors, announcing his intention to “expand” into Tunica County and asking officials for their assistance in establishing his newspaper’s presence here.

This week, a perpetually disgruntled citizen used his appointment with supervisors to attack The Tunica Times; this writer, the Times publisher; the publisher’s husband, who has no role in the newspaper except to provide history stories in the past few weeks; and the Town of Tunica mayor. When Board president James Dunn tried to cut this citizen short, another supervisor leapt to the citizen’s defense.

In the interest of fairness, we would like to ask officials to give our newspaper the same consideration and “assistance” they may choose to offer to a rival.

The county Board pays for placing legal notices in The Times, and other county entities have advertised off and on through the years. We’re a business, and we charge for advertising space. We have to pay  for the expense of putting together and printing a paper.No one in the county has ever offered to help us get people to subscribe, buy a single copy, or find advertisers. And we don’t expect them to do so.

We could ask for a spot on the Board’s next meeting agenda, also in the interest of fairness. But we think supervisors have more pressing issues to deal with, such as the critical nature of county finances.

So let us just offer some information that we believe may clarify the background and history of our publication.

As many of you know, this newspaper has been published in Tunica County for at least 109 years. Two families who made Tunica their home – the Phillipses and now, the Taylors – own or have owned the paper for a combined 61 years. Joe Lee, who owned The Times from 1978-1991, employed a local person, Lou Erwin, as publisher. So for the most part, The Tunica Times has been locally owned or operated.

During its history, The Times fought against the Ku Klux Klan and kept that vile organization from gaining a foothold in our community and, ultimately, helping to keep it out of the entire Delta region.

Over the years, news coverage in the black has expanded substantially. A local newspaper can be something that unifies various cultures and ethnicities, The Times covers news that is important to all Tunica Countians regardless of race, age, gender, national origin, etc. If we have failed to offer coverage, it is not because we do not value everyone’s interests, but primarily due to personnel and financial constraints. Or it may be that we simply were not aware of some news.

We have always asked our readers to alert us to news stories, photo opportunities, etc. As we have entered the digital age, it is easier than ever for our readers to submit photos they would like to see published in our pages.

Along with a few co-sponsors, The Times send papers to pubic school students every week of the school year, AT NO CHARGE to the school or students. And we’ve been doing this for more than 12 years, we believe. Before that, a teacher asked for our papers to use in his classroom and we provided those to him free of charge for a number of years before we expanded the program to cover more classrooms. Every week, we also give newspapers to the Literacy Council, again, at no charge.

We are loathe to toot our own horns, which is why many people may not know about our efforts. And we don’t want thanks or praise, we just want citizens to be informed about issues in this community.

But that’s really enough about us. This is just another sideshow to distract attention from the fix the county finds itself in financially. This week, the new county administrator raised some of the same issues about county spending that we’ve heard the former administrator and one supervisor raise multiple times, almost the exact words we have used to describe the dilemma.

Thompson said Monday, “We have to do some things now...this is a very critical time.

“We have to make sound decisions and get expenditures in line with revenues.”

That may not be what the Board and some citizens want to hear, but it’s been said too many times to be anything but the truth.

Are these attacks going to stop us from reporting the news and offering our opinion on local affairs?

Not on your life.

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