Will Davis

The late, great Lewis Grizzard once asked a class of eager beaver journalism students at the University of Georgia, “what’s the purpose of a newspaper?”

The earnest, wide-eyed students had lots of good theories.

“To expose wrongdoing!” one of them blurted out.

“To comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable,” suggested another.

“To inform the community what’s happening,” said another.

Grizzard, the gruff, world-weary humorist and newspaper columnist, sighed and paused.

Then he let the students in on his secret: “The purpose of a newspaper,” said Grizzard, “is to make money.”

Grizzard added that if a newspaper loses money, it won’t be around long.

True that. Contrary to popular opinion, profit is not a bad word. It looks especially rosy next to words like “loss” and “out of business”.

This newspaper is a business and by the blessings of Almighty God, we’re in much better shape than a lot of newspapers. Most newspapers. That is because of you. The people of Forsyth and Monroe County, and increasingly greater Middle Georgia, support this little adventure in ways only explainable by Divine Providence.

“I want to renew my prescription,” a caller said last week. A lot of people call their weekly delivery of the Reporter their “prescription”. It’ll cure what ails you. Anyway, the caller wanted to make sure he renewed before our rates went up on Oct. 1.

“Yessir, and you can go ahead and renew for two years if you like,” the Reporter staff told him.

“No,” he replied, “I want to renew for five years!” 

Our readers support this newspaper. The long hours, the complaints, the angry public officials — it’s all worth it because of readers like him. And like you.

Alas, our costs, like those of many businesses, are going up faster than Greg Tapley’s hat size. Our printing press called last month as the price of newsprint, the paper you’re holding in your hands, has gone up 40 percent since last year. The press called to tell us they would be passing those costs onto us in higher printing bills. I don’t mind telling you we already spend over $100,000 per year in printing costs. When that goes up, we have to find more revenue to pay those bills.

And that’s why this week we are having to implement our first price increase in nine years. The Reporter will now costs $2 in the stores. We hate to ask for such an increase from our loyal readers. But we’ve looked around at the marketplace. We noticed the local daily newspaper costs $2 in stores, and $4 on Sundays. That newspaper gives its readers about 12-24 pages per day, with just a smidgen of local content. Most of it is wire copy produced from other parts of the country.

Our newspaper is usually 28-32 pages, and contains ALL local content.

I was telling fellow newspaper publisher Len Woolsey of the Galveston County (Texas) Daily News this summer that we still charged $1 for the Reporter. I noted that it’s the cheapest of the newspapers on the racks.

“What you’re telling people,” said Woolsey, “is that you don’t think your newspaper is very valuable. You’re saying it’s worth less than those other newspapers. And I just don’t think that’s true.”

By golly, he’s right, I thought. Our readers tell us all the time how much they love their Reporter. I think we have a pretty good product. Maybe it is worth more.

Now the increase for our loyal subscribers is smaller, from $40 to $50 per year. And at that price, you’ll still be paying LESS than $1 per week for your paper. We want to encourage our readers to subscribe because those are the ones we know we can count on week in and week out. And by growing the number of subscribers, we give our loyal advertisers more committed eyeballs for their ads and messages in the Reporter.

While we know some won’t be happy with the increase, we remind our readers that there’s just not much you can buy for less than $2 anymore. A Coke at the store is usually $2. A Coke in a restaurant is usually closer to $3.

In an ideal world, Joe Biden would not be president and inflation would not be exploding. But here in the real world, he is and it is. As a long-time, locally owned business, we have a responsibility to make adjustments to keep the Reporter solvent and healthy. Thank you for your loyalty and understanding. Thank you for reading. And thank you for helping us pay these monster print bills.

•••

Speaking of Biden, his attorney general Merrick Garland has asked the FBI to investigate whether parents protesting Critical Race Theory at local school boards might be domestic terrorists. Yes, you read that right. We are governed by communist dictators. Garland was acting on a letter requesting action from the National School Board Association (NSBA), which cited a story in the Atlanta Journal Constitution alleging that parents were “harassing” Gwinnett County school board members over children being taught the cancerous Critical Race Theory. So I called the Georgia School Board Association (GSBA), of which our Monroe County school board is a member, to see if they give money to the NSBA. Communications director Justin Pauly confirmed that the GSBA gave $90,046 to the NSBA last year. Pauly did add that the GSBA didn’t ask the NSBA to make such a request to the Department of Justice and that the NSBA never told the GSBA that it was doing that. 

“Our stance is that we believe parents are an important part of the public education,” said Pauly. “We do not support that letter.”

Monroe County schools told the Reporter on Wednesday that they give $5,874 in annual dues to the GSBA, and nothing to the NSBA. So even if indirectly, you and I are likely funding lobbying efforts to have the FBI investigate us parents who oppose CRT. Are you OK with that?

•••

In other news, as we go to press we have learned that a new office complex is planned for New Forsyth Road. It’s the property where developers tried to put Section 8 apartments in front of Cross Creek subdivision a few years ago. Now plans call for a new road and 15 commercial lots on the property. The property owner is called Macon Real Estate LLC, although it has an Iowa address. The Monroe County zoning hearing is set for 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 25 and commissioners would make the final call at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 2.