No other business can claim being a part of this community so long

 

Names and faces. Names and faces.

Those are the commodity we in the newspaper profession trade in.

Each week, we exchange a compilation of names and faces of people you know and care about in return for your readership. Those names and faces, and the activities they’re involved in, are what keep you curious or interested enough to keep reading.

That makes up the circulation portion of our income, the dollars you put down for a subscription or hand across the counter to walk away with a single copy. It’s your readership we barter with area merchants. Eager businesses with products to move or services to offer depend upon us to place their messages in front of those readers that comprise the bulk of our income through advertising.

One of the great pleasures of our business is hearing a reader tell us how much they enjoy our newspaper. It can never happen too much, of course, but it happens all the time, virtually every day. Just yesterday, I ran into a Waycross businessman fairly new to the area. He introduced me to his wife, noting I am “the owner of the newspaper in Blackshear.”

Immediately, she broke out in a big smile, raising her hands in exclamation: “Oh, I love that newspaper!”

Pointing across the restaurant booth to her husband, she told me: “I look forward to it each week when he brings it home.”

This couple is relatively new to our area. The husband has been working here a couple of years. His lovely wife couldn’t yet know all that many people here. But she is engaged. She’s interested. And we’re doing our job by presenting a wide enough variety of news, names and information, even someone who may not yet know all the “players” can enjoy what we report.

And the fact her husband makes the effort to bring our newspaper home from the office with him, tells me we’ve become a staple item in his life as well. It’s the ultimate compliment.

The Blackshear Times marks its 150th anniversary this year as the direct successor to this area’s first newspaper, originally known as “The Little Gem.” One-time Pierce County Sheriff E.Z. Byrd was the founder and first editor. Many of Editor Byrd’s descendants are still around the community (and are regular readers of The Times).

This newspaper is the oldest continually operated business in the community, a point of immense pride. Despite what some may think, I’ve only been here about a third of that time, having taken the reins as editor almost 49 years ago. I have more than doubled the tenure of the former longest-serving editor of The Blackshear Times. That was the esteemed Kirk Sutlive of Savannah, who was editor from 1920 to 1940. Interestingly, “Mr. Kirk” was a friend from the time I was 16 years old, just starting out in the newspaper business and he later visited me here during my first couple of years to reminisce on his years spent in Blackshear.

Thank you! You, your parents, your grandparents and your great-grandparents have read this newspaper. It’s a legacy we hope continues for many more decades.

• Robert M. Williams, Jr. is Editor & Publisher of The Blackshear Times. Email: rwilliams@theblacksheartimes.com.