October 14, 2021

Time to put on our thinking caps

             Oglethorpe County, I hear you.

            Everywhere I go, you are telling me that you are pleased your 148-year-old newspaper is planning to have more birthdays.

            Yes, indeed, that’s the plan.

            And at the same time—while you are expressing your appreciation—you are asking, “What can I do to help?”

            I don’t have all the answers, but I do have suggestions.

            Oglethorpe County, it’s time to put on your thinking caps. I’ve got mine on. Together, we’ll find a way to keep The Echo blowing out birthday candles for years to come.

            To prime your brainstorming pumps, here are some of my thoughts:

§  We’ll be forming a community advisory board for the new nonprofit corporation that will own The Oglethorpe Echo. We’ll need a diverse group of citizens who can advise but not control the newspaper. Suggestions?

§  At the same time, I have spoken with Susie Johnson, principal of Oglethorpe County High School. We aim to have an equally diverse group of six to eight high school students to inject their ideas as to how The Echo can best serve their generation and the community.

§  We’re meeting regularly with UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications. Instructor Andy Johnston, as managing editor, will supervise the student interns. As the volunteer chairman of The Oglethorpe Echo Legacy Inc., I will be an additional adviser. I live here. I vote here, and we pay taxes in Oglethorpe County. Right now, we are trying to build an operational bridge from Nov. 1 until the start of winter semester in mid-January 2022. I ask for your cooperation and patience.

§  We’ll need to add more subscribers. If you subscribe, thank you. Please talk to your friends, family and neighbors. If they aren’t subscribers, encourage them to sign up. We’ll be conducting circulation campaigns. Maybe your civic club would like to get involved with this.

§  Expanding our readership base is vital. We’ll also need to increase advertising. You must be a good business before you can be a good anything-else. If you own a business, let us help you promote your enterprise. The Echo will soon be adding a digital option, too. We’ll be knocking on your doors.

§  An application is being filed to form the newspaper’s parent company, The Oglethorpe Echo Legacy Inc. When approved by the IRS, you can make tax-deductible donations. The process can take six to nine months, but I understand—once approved—the tax-deduction provision will be retroactive. Already, we are receiving contributions and pledges. Thank you!

§  Maybe you can’t make a monetary donation. There are still ways for you to donate something just as important—your time and energy. Perhaps you’d like to say, “Let me take care of the landscaping chores at The Echo.” Or maybe you could volunteer to answer the telephone one afternoon a week. You get the idea. There are plenty of ways you can help. 

            I read something the other day: “Local news knits the fabric of American life.” Peter

Funt is spot-on. That’s exactly what your newspaper has been doing for 148 years. And that’s why The Oglethorpe Echo must keep on keeping on knitting our community together.

            Oglethorpe County, it’s time to put on your thinking caps.

            I’m listening.