Tears and Laughter: How to avoid negative press in Wilcox County

I understand that some people, especially those involved with local government, can be sensitive to negative press about Camden and Wilcox County. Trust me I would like it to be only the best too. I live here. I have raised children here. I continue to raise children here. My grandchildren are being raised here. I dislike headlines that do not accentuate the positive aspects too, but what is the alternative?

On the front page of the Progressive Era last week – under the article about the fatal shooting at the Flip Flop Club no less – was the suggestion that negative press and lack of vision are overshadowing the shimmering potential and lucrative history Camden apparently has to offer.

That was not the first time this line of conversation has been mentioned or discussed. And again, respectfully, I understand wanting our best to shine through. I get that. I do. I also kind of feel that if remnants of back when the Yankees tromped through made a place, the entire Southland would still be whistling Dixie and living in high cotton. But that is not what is happening in Wilcox County.

Part of the problem is the lame economy. It is also inept leadership and a public school system that could serve its students better based on the budget it is afforded.

The problem is also an inadequate workforce and the county continuing to have the highest unemployment rate in the state. For many it is almost impossible to make a living here. These factors affect the quality of life as well as people’s perception of here. But the problem is certainly not that, sometimes, some of it gets reported.

A clear vision for Wilcox County’s future will have to involve looking at the current struggles straight.  There are far too many flaws to pretend all we need to do is put on a happy face and have a positive attitude.

A helpful place to start with the process of reversing negative press may be to consider, primarily, what the hell a newspaper is, and what all news outlets are charged with accomplishing – which is reporting the news as it happens to happens and holding elected officials accountable. They aren’t lightweight rulers, they are public servants. In the wake of the Mike Hubbard trial, it is not necessary to elaborate any further.

Under the “news” umbrella there is a space for everything from hard news items and editorials to opinion columns and human interest pieces. Plus there is art, entertainment, sports, business, pets, religion, and where we all end up in print in the end, the obituaries.

As wonderful as they are, showing pictures of prized tomatoes and cabbages grown around town was not the original purpose and intent of newspapers. The whole point of all news media is to keep the public informed while they are busy making a living and keeping homes and raising children. That is why city council meetings and county commission meetings and school board meetings are covered. It is why community issues and court cases are followed. It is why Steve Flowers writes about Alabama politics.

All of that said though, one of the best ways to avoid negative press is to avoid actions that create negative press.

Amanda Walker is a columnist with The West Alabama Watchman, Al.com, The Thomasville Times, and The Wilcox Progressive Era. For more information, visit her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist.