Michelle Mann

The start of the new year Tuesday at midnight marked not only a new calendar year but also the proverbial first blank page of a 365-page book.

Community journalists are inseparable from their communities so it is blank pages that we strive to fill for our community weekly in print and daily online.

Community journalism is, by definition, locally owned, locally focused professional news coverage that features our neighbors in our cities rather than the national or world news. We take the commitment to “community” seriously.

“All the news that’s fit to print,” is what the owner of the New York Times said in 1897. Sometimes it is not quite that simple.

In a nutshell, the reality is that the size of a printed newspaper issue is dependent upon the amount of advertising in each issue, not the amount of news available to be put in it.

So all the news that actually fits is sometimes the real reality.

The Southeast Sun first rolled off the press May 6, 1982. The Daleville Sun-Courier followed on Aug. 13, 1986. Both papers were created by our publisher, the late Howard Quatttlebaum, with the commitment to covering our communities in a professional, responsible and ethical way.

Today our commitment to covering our communities extends to a state of the art website at www.southeastsun.com. Readers can click on any of the individual tabs to view news of specific interest as well as archived e-editions of both the weekly papers and our special interest publications.

As journalists we are sometimes conflicted about the right way to handle events. We are criticized for bringing the darkness to light. We are also criticized for ignoring the darkness.

As every election cycle begins The Southeast Sun and Daleville Sun-Courier are questioned about why we do not randomly print political announcements. We are asked why some of the programs at some of the high schools seem to receive inordinately more coverage than others at other high schools. It has also been asked why we only print felony arrests and not misdemeanor ones.

With finite space to print articles, some decisions must be made, some parameters must be maintained. Some of those decisions and parameters in place were initiated by the paper’s founder and have continued to serve us well through the decades. Some have been formulated as unique situations arise. Know that all the decisions, however, are local.

For the readers who depend on us to be a credible source of local news and for the advertisers who depend on us to connect them with the local community, we assure you that feedback is one of the most important things we can receive from you.

Sometimes that feedback is in the form of compliments, sometimes not.

We appreciate that you care enough to read us and to take the time to let us know what you think. We appreciate that you ask us your questions and give us the opportunity to answer.

Our goal is to publish a reputable and profitable community newspaper. We believe in the public’s right to know and the right of free speech and press. 

We will not post or publish a story unless we are prepared to stand behind it. At The Southeast Sun and The Daleville Sun-Courier, we take personal responsibility for the accuracy of each article we write—in fact, we put our names and email addresses on each article we write.   

We believe that strong community newspapers build strong communities.

With all that said, we continue to sincerely ask: How can we better serve you?

Please send us your ideas, suggestions and comments to news@southeastsun.com.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful new year as we continue to serve you in 2020.

Michelle Mann is a staff writer for The Southeast Sun and Daleville Sun-Courier. The opinions of this writer are her own and not the opinion of the paper. She can be reached at (334) 393-2969 or by email at mmann@southeastsun.com.

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