Column/ A look at my past plan for the future

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 15, 2006

As the new publisher of your newspaper I think it’s important that you know a little about me, my past and what I hope the future will bring for us all as we seek to live, work and fellowship together in Selma for many years to come.

I was raised just north of here in Tuscaloosa. My father, a 20-year veteran of the Air Force, moved our family there in 1971 to take a job at the local Air Force recruiter’s office. My parents still live in Tuscaloosa and I’m proud that I’ve been able to stay close to them as I’ve grown older. My two older brothers and I were raised on neighborhood picnics, barbecue and Bear Bryant football. Yes, I’m a Bama fan, but don’t hold it against me. The last few years have been punishment enough.

I cut my teeth in the newspaper business at the age of 14 by helping one of my brothers deliver his paper route after school. I remember riding in the passenger seat of his Toyota with newspapers stacked up to my chin and having the feeling I was doing something really worthwhile communicating the news to those we delivered to. I eventually took over his newspaper route in 1980 and remember the day I decided to make newspapering my career. It was the day Bear Bryant passed away. People lined the streets of my route waiting for the then five hour late special edition, which I still have several copies of stowed securely away. That day I saw the real power of information and the importance of the role I, and others, played in delivering it.

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I’m a product of the public education system, graduating from Central (Tuscaloosa) High School in 1982. I attended Shelton State Community College and the University of Alabama until I figured out I knew more than my professors did and decided I’d better get a job if I was going to eat.

I married my high school sweetheart, Paula, 18 years ago and we have two beautiful

children together, a boy, Ashley, who is 13 and a girl Maggie, 6. We’re pretty simple people who enjoy each other’s company and that of family and friends. Our idea of a good time is relaxing at home and the occasional cook out.

I bring my family to Selma with one thing in mind; to make it our home and to work hard to become an active part of Selma. My wife and I fully intend on getting involved in the community and becoming a part of our new home. We won’t be able to join every civic club but rest assured we will look for opportunities to pay our civic dues and will do so early and often.

My goal as the publisher of The Selma Times-Journal is to publish the best newspaper the community can support. Advertising dollars is what drives the engine here and allows us to produce the quality and quantity of news readers want to see. Further, I want this newspaper to be an entity that our community is proud of and one that reflects well on all of us when judged with others in like communities. I have no aspirations that I, or this newspaper, will be able to please all of the people, all of the time. I don’t think we as a newspaper can remain unbiased or objective and accomplish that task.

I also don’t believe in going through life with rose colored glasses on, but I’m a firm believer that there is good in every person and every community and we as a newspaper will work hard to find, and report, the good things that are happening in Selma and Dallas County.

Being the publisher of a community newspaper can be both a blessing and a curse, depending on what day of the week it is. There have been many nights where I’ve lost sleep over how a newspaper I published covered a controversial issue. I take my job, and the commitment I have to the community this newspaper serves, seriously, and I will expect my coworkers to do the same and will hold them accountable for providing our readers, customers and community a quality newspaper that accurately reflects the people we serve.

The late Carmage Walls, a visionary in the community newspaper industry, once wrote, &8220;A newspaper is the greatest force for good or evil in a community. It is a semi-public utility. We who are fortunate in holding stock in a newspaper I consider but temporary custodians of this service vehicle in the community. By our ownership of the stock we also assume tremendous responsibilities, first to the public we service, second to the employees and lastly to the stockholders.&8221;

I firmly believe that we as stockholders of the community’s property need to be responsive, proactive and forward thinking as we approach our role with your newspaper and we will seek to do that at every opportunity. We will respect everyone’s opinion, and their right to give it, and we will publish the news fairly and without bias when reporting on issues that are of importance to our readers. We will not be influenced by those who seek to influence us to serve their own personal agenda, but will base our opinions on facts and will seek to simply seek to do what is right, fair, good and responsible for the community we serve.

My personal philosophy is that you do whatever you can to make the world around

you a better place. In other words, leave things better than you found them. Be it at home or on the job, if you’re not striving to improve the community in which you live, you’ve set the bar too low.

Dennis Palmer is publisher of The Selma Times-Journal. He can be reached at 410-1712, or by email: .