Coffee and newspaper

Thank you to Senator Jimmy Higdon for saying it best: “Please continue to rely on your local newspapers for the latest information and updates on the COVID-19 pandemic. You will find no better source of local information than that contained within this paper.”

We already live in an age where information is rapidly available, so in an age where timeliness seems to be everything, where is the commitment to accuracy? If you spend a fraction of the time I do watching news or reading news online, you will notice just how many mistakes are made in the name of speed.

In our microwave society, we feel we have to get the news out there as fast as possible — mistakes can be corrected later, right? Well... I am not a fan of making errors. Just ask my staff. I am not hard to get along with, as least in my eyes. But, among the most sinful of errors you can make working for me is getting something wrong.

Let me clear something up - I am not perfect. I make mistakes. I own them and I atone for them as best I can. Never do I knowingly make a mistake. A few burned bridges over time will tarnish a good name for a lifetime, and in my tenure managing this newspaper, I want to be known for “getting it right.” I’ve always told my reporters to not take it personally if a source won’t talk to them, but will talk to me instead. It’s just a matter of respect.

When we make a blatant error, and it happens, the hammer falls, and it falls hard. Why? Because newspapers can’t afford a mistep. We operate in a society today that makes it incredibly difficult for true journalists to do their job. Somewhere between lower advertising and subscription revenue and general public apathy, newspapers have lost a lot in recent years. 

On my watch, our integrity will have nothing to do with contributing to a decline in print. In fact, I see it as my job to bring the Advocate back to its prominence as the source for reliable news and community journalism in Knox County.

We support our local businesses and leaders. We want to tell the stories that matter to this community. We want to save our taxpayers money by keeping our government transparent and accountable. But, newspapers are struggling. It’s no secret. With less staff, we are required to work harder to make ends meet each week. Thankfully, our governor has deemed us an essential industry. We are covering most things we always have, but with much greater effort and creativity.

In much the same way our community has risen to take care of its restaurants, pharmacies and other small businesses, remember, the Advocate is also a small business in this town with employees who need their income just as much as anyone else.

It’s easy to take a 116-year-old pillar of the community for granted. Most people don’t think of the newspaper as a business — but it is. And it needs the community to step up and support it. We need you to subscribe and keep true, reliable journalism in this community. Good reporting is never free.

Support Local Journalism

We’ve been there for you, now we’re asking that you be there for us. While we will continue to share COVID-19 and urgent health news for free, we will be requiring a subscription for most of our news and sports content. Please click on SUBSCRIBE or call your local newspaper office.

Charles is a native of Barbourville, Kentucky. He has worked with The Mountain Advocate in various capacities since 2003.

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