Skip to content

Rant — By Tommy Purser

I’ve had a rant building up in me for quite some time now.
That rant finally built up to the exploding point around noon Monday when a lady called the office and asked when the Christmas Parade would be held.
The good wife answered the phone, told the lady she wasn’t sure when the parade has been scheduled …. or even IF the parade has been scheduled. Then she hollered at me in the back of the office and said, “Tommy. Is the Christmas parade this weekend?”
“I don’t know,” I replied. “No one has told me.”
So I need to vent —— but I’ll be nice.
For over 100 years, the citizens of Jeff Davis County have relied on their local newspaper to get information about the goings on in Hazlehurst and Jeff Davis County. That’s why the lady called our office. She, like so many people in our community, relies on us.
Social media is killing this newspaper. It is threatening to shut our doors for good. We are fighting fiercely to keep this newspaper operating but a disturbing, to me, number of people don’t want to help us in that fight.
I miss Laura Bloom. When she was executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, she kept this newspaper informed about every activity the Chamber was involved in. Every festival. Every ribbon cutting. Every open house. Every downtown happening.
Now, there is a deafening silence about Chamber and community activities. People would rather post their activities on social media and keep us in the dark.
Worse than that, few businesses want to advertise in the newspaper, thinking — incorrectly — that everyone will see their free advertising posted on social media.
My friend Tim Taylor stopped by the office a couple of weeks ago and told me that some of his old buddies got to talking one day about the businesses that were in Hazlehurst back in the 1970s. He wondered where they could get a list of those businesses. So I went to work.
I got down my bound volume of Ledgers from 1974, opened it up and wrote down the businesses that advertised in the Ledger for that year. There were 117 businesses that advertised in the Ledger, ranging from 2-3 times a year to every week — most of them at least monthly or more. Many of them every week.
Take a moment to count the number of advertisements in this edition of the paper. Not many, are there?
Like I said, social media is killing this newspaper.
And in a very real way, it is chipping away at our community. Every mean spirited post. Every inclusion of fake news. Every back-and-forth messaging that hangs out our dirty laundry for everyone to see. Every gripe. Every complaint. Every little bit of misinformation, whether intended or not.
I read a few weeks ago in an industry magazine about a struggling weekly newspaper in some midwestern state where the owner/publisher whose creditors were banging on his door had reached the end of his rope. He and his wife, in a last-ditch effort to stay afloat, sent out a plea for help from the community they served.
Within a matter of days, the community came through by donating thousands of dollars to keep the newspaper afloat.
Well, I’m not that desperate. I won’t beg. I’ll keep clawing away because, despite what some may think, I think this community needs a newspaper. So I’ll keep on keeping on.
Whew! I feel better already.
Meanwhile, I’ll make a call or two and find out when the Christmas parade is.
By the way, the Full Throttle Truck and Car Show is scheduled for this Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 84 Beecher Road in Hazlehurst. I know that because the organizers let me know and, better than that, they ran a couple of advertisements in my paper to let the public know.
Proceeds from the event go to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, a charitable organization founded in tribute to New York Fire Department firefighter Stephen Siller, who died during the Sept. 11 attacks. The foundation operates as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and helps families of Sept. 11, first responders and veterans rebuild in part from funds raised through nationwide charity runs.
The foundation also operates the Let Us Do Good Village, a 100-home area in Land O’Lakes, Fla., explicitly for veterans, first responders and their families.
Thanks to the organizers who relied on us — not social media — to spread the word.

Leave a Comment