With the recent public decision of the Red Boiling Springs City Council and Mayor Kenneth Hollis to adopt the Macon County Times as the city’s official newspaper and to exclusively spend taxpayer’s money on advertising with that publication, I find it necessary to address the issue not only from an ethical standpoint, but also due to the fact that the topic has appeared in several other local news venues.I attended the council meeting in question on behalf of this newspaper as I have for a total of nearly three years, and I have to say that while the lack of respect shown between some city officials was to say the least, typical, the apparent grudge held against this newspaper was news to me.
During the Any Other Business section of the agenda, it was councilman Stevie Newberry who made the motion to “change newspapers,” or officially adopt the Times as the city’s official newspaper, and it was councilman Billy Joe Carver who made the statement that he didn’t “like what was being said in the Chronicle.”
Carver continued on to say that our newspaper used derogatory comments including “Chimpanzees” in reference to RBS city council members – a statement that I not only resent, but also consider an excuse made in ignorance by a city official, whose recent actions cost the residents of Red Boiling Springs.
The term Carver referenced, in fact, was written in a Rural Viewpoints column on the topic of the survival of small towns and never once did the writer make any connection to a certain city or county, governing body or even an individual.
The truth is, that while the city has every right to choose where to spend it’s advertising dollars, its governing officials are apparently confused on what exactly their advertising dollars buy them.
Your public notice advertising money, Mayor Hollis and council members, will not fund you, or the city, a Macon County Chronicle public relations team paid to bury controversy, hide the truth or give you a set of wings and glowing halo. If this is something you hope to achieve by giving out the title of your city’s official newspaper, I pray that any other respectable publication would find your expectations to be as amusing as I do.
It is my job, and the job of every reporter at this newspaper, with or without your money, to report on the happenings at all city council meetings, court results or any other topic that effects all who live and pay taxes in the city you are sworn to represent and uphold the integrity of – and that is what we will continue to do.
In all of my years at the Chronicle, I have not once been contacted by any member of the RBS City Council or Mayor about an error in reporting, a request for a correction or bias accusations, therefore I am led to believe that it’s the release of certain information to the public that has led to your decision.
I personally hold no animosity towards any of those who voted in favor of exclusive advertisement in the Times, and am still unsure about what ‘lesson’ our staff was supposed to be ‘taught’ from the council’s decision, except the one that I walked away with that night – that we must be doing something right. We are a newspaper that prides itself on giving a voice to the unheard, keeping Macon County residents aware of the decisions of our local government officials and allowing our readers to form their own opinions – a philosophy that I believe in to my very core.
Shortly after the council meeting was adjourned last Thursday night, Mayor Hollis approached me to say that the council’s decision was “nothing personal,” a statement made seconds before he asked for all of his “personal” advertising to be cancelled. While we at the Chronicle are happy to oblige, the contradiction is apparent and the message is clearly taken.
In the words of Finley Peter Dunne, one of the greatest political journalists of his time, “The business of every newspaper is to comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable,” and while our reporting of the facts on city business seems to have offended you Mayor Hollis, and several members of your city council, it’s your own words that I will leave you with in regards to our intentions . . . it’s nothing personal.
Macon County Chronicle Editor