The Athens Review
Recently, representatives of the Henderson County Democratic Party approached me, and my publisher, Lange Svehlak on two different occasions about my policies on election night, regarding the front page of the Athens Daily Review.
If you will remember, other newspapers in the area, and indeed over the entire U.S., perhaps even worldwide, had huge headlines about the victory of incumbent Barack Obama over Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
I agree with those that believe that one of the purposes of a local newspaper is to give the news followed by its readers, especially that which has been leading up to a particular moment for months. Such is the case with any Presidential election.
It was perhaps particularly true with this one, because it was one of the closest Presidential races in U.S. history.
I’d like to write at the onset, I left the story off the front page of the Athens Daily Review, and it was entirely my decision.
Your next question, if you haven’t asked it already, is simply, “Why?”
Let me begin by answering that most anyone that I spoke with for weeks leading up to the election told me that they were tired of the campaigning, including the advertisements, and most of the time, the news.
I believe people were ready to see the news about the election and the “wonderful” attributes about each Presidential candidate conclude.
I concluded it a little early, and would have done so, regardless of which party won or lost.
Perhaps of greater importance was the timing. I knew that anything written about the final results of the Presidential election would have come from the Associated Press, an organization subscribed to by most newspapers, including the Athens Daily Review, and other media. On the night of the election, AP, as it is commonly called, had put out the information. And all media to which the public was glued, was putting out the information.
So, by the time the Presidential election was completed, perhaps every man, woman and child in our circulation area knew who won, and had any other related information AP and any other news information source had supplied its subscriber media.
In my imagination, I couldn’t believe that on Wednesday morning, one spouse would say to the other, “Honey, we’ve only seen news of the Obama victory 378 times. I sure hope the Athens Daily Review does it again, so we can read it again.”
For that reason, I held my ground. I wanted to give our readers something relatively new. I didn’t want them to see the AP information, which in many cases, they had already read word-for-word.
I remember in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when I was a young child in the Waco suburb of Bellmead. I remember the first television we had, and how, at the same time, my parents subscribed to the Waco Tribune-Herald.
Maybe because of a long-lived habit, my parents picked up the paper from the front yard to get their news first.
One reason for that was that the television reception was not what it could be (snowy, with volume cutting in and out), and news was much more limited than it is today. I remember the news on KWTX-TV in Waco was not called Eyewitness News, or any such thing. It was called the Local News. Indeed, it was local, with very abbreviated world news, which I believe at that time, may have been read from the newspaper.
It was then that the newspaper was perhaps the sole source of most news, including Presidential elections.
But that all changed. Later, my parents watched the TV news first, if what they were looking for applied to world happenings. And, that was way before the Internet.
Sometimes it's hard for our public, our readers, to understand the inner workings of a newspaper. But I can assure you, we don't come to decisions lightly or without thought. That doesn't always mean our readers will agree with us.
But you can rest assured, knowing our goal is always to find ways to be relevant and informative to our readers.
Jeff Riggs is Editor of the Athens Daily Review.