What is the measure of success?

Published 7:09 pm Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A little over three years after buying the Donalsonville News, we just had the opportunity to see how other people thought we were doing.   The Virginia Press Association judged entries for this year’s Georgia Press Association Better Newspaper Contest.  Judging by the results, we are feeling pretty good.

Of course, success has many different definitions.  Many think first and foremost about the attainment of popularity or profit.

This paper may be more popular than profitable, but that’s okay.  We have to build a product that people want and even need before we can ask them to pay what it is worth.

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Success has other definitions that may be more appropriate at this stage in the long life of the Donalsonville News.  Looking at success in a different way, you might say that success is about achieving one’s goals.  From that standpoint, I would like to think the Donalsonville News is very successful.

If you are looking to make a fortune, then a small town newspaper isn’t the first investment that comes to mind.

A good living, perhaps, but not a fortune.  On the other hand, if you want to promote the life, people, and events of the community you love, then perhaps you can do pretty well.   At least that was our vision when we started this project.

For the first time, the Donalsonville News came home with first place recognitions, in not one, but four categories.  We were first in Special Issues (Christmas Edition), Community Service, Photo Essay and Serious Column, along with a number of second and third place awards.

We came in a heartbreakingly close second for the General Excellence Award in our Division.   That will just give the paper something to shoot for next year.

However, the Georgia Press Association also awards the “Service to the Community” Award to just one newspaper in the state.  I’ll admit I was surprised, even shocked, when our name was announced. I know how hard our staff works supporting the many efforts of our local community, but I wasn’t sure that anyone else in the industry would ever be aware of that fact.

Thanks to the nomination made by a local citizen, the Donalsonville News made it to the top in the category by which I measure success.

Are we making a difference in our community?

Are we helping to promote new ideas and different thinking?  Are we reporting on our community’s successes, from the football field to local industry, rather than just talking about what isn’t happening?

While the paper has many opportunities to be better or more “successful”, it is tremendously encouraging for our peers to recognize our weekly for its efforts to make this place we call home a better place to live.

This is the sole reason I bought this newspaper, because I couldn’t imagine what our community would do without some way to tell its own story to those that matter the most; our own citizens.

I won my own first award in the “serious writing category”.  The title was “What’s the Meaning of Life?” about the Boston Marathon bombing.  I enjoy writing and this is just icing on the cake for me.

Success by any definition usually comes because of the work behind the scenes.  David Maxwell has a passion for this community that is amazing given that he didn’t live here until three years ago.

Rhonda Worrell, Jennifer Welch, and the other employees are all a part of what I will now call a success.  Bo McLeod’s family laid the foundation that we are still building on and I am grateful to all that once worked in that old news office across from the courthouse.

Finally, to you our faithful readers, allow us to enjoy this moment with a little bit of pride, and then we’ll be back at work.  We aren’t done yet.

We want that General Excellence plaque next to the Service to the Community Award.  Only then, will we be satisfied.