When I started the Moore County Journal on May 22, 2015, I expected to fight some battles if I wanted to occupy a space among the community’s news providers. I’m competitive and have an almost inexhaustible supply of energy that’s fueled by passion, so I entered the arena with sleeves rolled up, ready to wrestle fairly and professionally for the top spot. I did it by covering the news, local events and sports. I did it by showing the community the Journal isn’t a hobby, that if it meant working 16-hour days to get it to the top and keeping it there, then that’s what I would do. It turned out that’s what I had to do, and the Journal quickly claimed the top spot among the local media. That hasn’t set well with some people.
After last week’s emotional roller coaster, I gave a great deal of thought to the Journal’s future. Where do I want it to be in another year, what role should it have in the community? Do I want to continue working 16-hour days? The decision I made last week not to cover Dumas’ sports wasn’t the result of a hissy fit. There was some conflict going on about the football poster, and I thought it would be best for the sports program if the Journal bowed out. The decision broke my heart, but I truly thought it was the best one in order to keep peace. The readers thought otherwise and weighed in, and I’ll never be able to express my gratitude for all of the comments of support. I’ll be frank and tell you that some of them surprised me. I know the Journal has supporters, but when some of the student athletes commented about how important the Journal is to them, I thought there would be no way I could disappoint them.
I also was exhausted when I made the decision to remove the Journal from the equation. Since the Journal’s beginnings, I’ve had to dodge the News Press’ attacks. I welcome competition, but let it be professional, let it be based on the product and services we provide. Don’t get down in the gutter to scoop up mud to fling. That only shows you’re a person who, when threatened, resorts to eye gouging and kicks to the groin. Don’t fight your competition like that. Fight by improving your product. It’s that simple. But the News Press hasn’t done that.
I’m not writing this editorial to attack the News Press, but they need to stop. We all need to stop. Why can’t all of Moore County’s media and photographers get along? Why can’t we sit down and discuss how we can all have a piece of the pie and give our communities the best news coverage possible? Why can’t we do that? Why can’t we work together to cover our sports programs as they’ve never been covered? It’s difficult and sometimes impossible for me or the News Press to be at every event. Why can’t we get along and share our resources and help each other? It doesn’t have to be a nasty battle. It shouldn’t be.
Everyone needs to drop their sense of entitlement. The community doesn’t owe you anything just because you’ve been in business for years. What have you given the community? When the News Press sells ads, asking businesses to support the teams, do they give any of that money to the booster clubs? No, they don’t. If you’re using the kids to sell advertising, then give some of that money to them. It’s only right. If we work together, we could discuss those issues. We could discuss how to approach advertising and marketing. You cannot continue to expect the business community to support your business when you give them nothing. That’s entitlement, and they don’t owe you anything. Would you shop at a store that offers nothing of value just because they want to stay in business? Nope. You’d take your money somewhere else. And many of the advertisers have.
We have got to grow up. Yes, I’m competing with the News Press because they drew first blood when they sent me a cease and desist letter, telling me I couldn’t use the name “Moore County.” Oh my word. You can’t own geography, which the Journal’s attorney pointed out to them in our response. They went on the attack, and I simply kept putting out the best product I could. And now here we are.
I’m offering a truce to all competition. This drama has got to stop. Yes, I will continue to compete as long as I’m put in that position, but I think there are better ways we can serve Moore County. The News Press, the Journal, the High Plains Observer, the photographers and anyone else who provides services need to come together and talk. We need to work out our differences and pledge to give Moore County our best. We don’t need to go after each other’s throats to do it. We just don’t.
There’s so much to cover in Moore County. As I said, I can’t get to all of it, and the News Press can’t get to all of it, either. There’s no reason we couldn’t be working together. And if someone is upset because I’m asked to design a football poster, come talk to me. We can work it out. I promise we can if we try.
So I’m offering an olive branch to the News Press and to all of the Journal’s competition. There’s enough work for all of us, and we each have our own skills and strengths. Please drop the sense of entitlement and think about Moore County. Think about how petty and unprofessional it looks when we’re fighting. I say we set up a date and time to talk. We can have a moderator if that’s necessary, but we need to talk. This just can’t continue.
I will say that as long as the competition refuses to talk about how we can all work together, I will pull out every tool I have to win, including publishing a print version. I will work 18-hour days if I have to, and I’ll win. I’m a formidable opponent, as last week showed, but I’d rather be working with people than against them. Again, let’s stop with the fighting. Stop posting comments that require me to seek legal representation. We have a community to serve, and that’s not how we should be doing it.
So I’m offering you, Wanda Brooks, an olive branch. I’m also offering it to Kathy Shockey and anyone else who would like to speak with me about the Journal and how we can all serve Moore County. I hope you will consider accepting it, so we can get on with the business of contributing to Moore County’s greatness and its growth. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 760-421-6767.