This week is the 80th annual National Newspaper Week, which observes the importance of newspapers to their communities.
As a community, we should celebrate our newspaper. As much as the Daily Mountain Eagle celebrates its surrounding communities, Jasper and Walker County should celebrate the rich history as well as the exciting future of the Daily Mountain Eagle.
The DME has provided years of news to our community. It is the respected, trusted source for what has and is happening in Walker County. Personally, I am happy to have now been a part of our team here at the Eagle for a quarter-century of the newspaper’s nearly 150 years of existence.
Over the past week, our staff has been busy on various project.
The advertising department has spent nearly every working hour this week on our annual digital sales blitz, which is a week each year when we put a heavy focus on sales for ads on mountaineagle.com. Patrick Bingle, a good friend of mine from Pittsburgh, comes down each year for one week to help our sales team in offering special advertising packages for that week only. In one of my daily chats with Patrick this week, he told me that he is amazed how popular the Daily Mountain Eagle and its website is in our community. He visited with 40 to 50 business owners this week, and each of them were complimentary of the paper and the job we do. I was even pleased to hear that all were also complimentary of the job that I have done in keeping us relevant in recent years.
The newsroom has spent the last week like it does most weeks, working on a variety of stories from crime to human interest pieces. Early in the week, we reported on two shooting deaths that happened in Jasper. Days later, it was a story on a local volunteer volleyball coach who had an alleged improper relationship with a child that dominated our headlines as well as our website and social media pages.
Those headlines would probably be considered “bad news,” but we never want to focus only on the bad things that may happen from time to time in our area. The DME wants to also inform our community about good things happening here such as the “Men in Blue” still serving at Maddox School or a local couple sharing resources for guardians of addicted loved ones.
Our sports department and digital crew have worked hard this week and all season to provide the best high school football coverage in the state via dmeprepzone.com and with our DME PrepZone brand in print and digital formats.
The DME also unfortunately broke the news this week that there would be no Christmas parade in Jasper this year. I did personally speak to organizers of the East Walker Christmas Parade who told me their plans are to move forward with the parade in Dora and Sumiton.
If there wasn’t a Daily Mountain Eagle, those stories wouldn’t take place. Birmingham news agencies don’t show a care in the world to our area unless it’s a murder or something sensational. The DME is here every day, reporting on our area, recording our history, telling the stories of the people who live here.
Our production and circulation departments work hard every week to get the papers printed and to their final destinations in a timely manner. Our front office is always there for you when you call with a question. I cannot tell you how important all those folks are to what we do every day, and those are the people who you don’t get to see in person out in the community much.
I’ve had many people ask me over the last few years why I came back to Jasper or some have even said why am I still here with some of the flack that we receive, mostly just from Facebook trolls. We do receive constructive criticism as well, and we take that to heart and do our best to always improve our product. But the reason I’m here is because I love Jasper and Walker County. I could choose to be anywhere. There are always opportunities out there, but much like Coach Philip Bailey said earlier this year when he said he wanted the job as Jasper’s head football coach, “I choose Jasper.” This is an incredible community, filled with even better people. It can be tough some days, because all areas have their bad apples, but this is a special place, that I am proud to call home, and I’m also proud that I have chosen it to continue to be my home. On this National Newspaper Week, I would just ask you all to consider the great asset the DME is to our area, and I would also ask you all to continuously prayer for your newspaper, its publisher and all of its team members. We always appreciate your support.
James Phillips is editor and publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He may be reached at 205-221-2840.