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How we do business . . .

 Someone once said the Chiefland Citizen “ is read all over and believed like the Bible.” 

That readers put stock in what the Chiefland Citizen and Cedar Key Beacon publish is humbling and it means we meet our goal to be honest, credible and ethical in our work.

Print journalism is challenged by every sort of blogger, citizen journalist and anyone with a smart phone. Some have agendas beyond presenting news. 

Our agenda is: 

• Do what is best for Levy County residents and 

• News for ALL of Levy County. 

It's simple enough, but not always understood. So in this Sunshine Week, we will practice a little business transparency. 

This is a “column.” It contains my opinion and observations. My name and face on it says “I stand behind my words.” It is not news, which is a story based on facts, or an editorial which is an unsigned statement of position taken by a newspaper. 

A name on a news story is a byline and a writer's testament that “I wrote this. This is my original work.” It also usually means the person attended or interviewed people who attended the event. When a story is written from a recording of an event it will say so, in writing, at the bottom with the writer's name.

Our ethics (and honesty) policy do not allow us to use fake names or pseudonyms, or borrow a person's name or imply we were somewhere when we were not. 

A Staff Report means it failed the byline's originality test and a staff person rewrote a press release or information from a source, rearranged the way information was presented or added information. Press releases that run, with only spelling and grammar corrections, carry the “Special to the Citizen” moniker. Changes are made because it is not our policy to mock people by printing  their errors. 

News articles run in “news columns.” Too often people say they “saw your ad” or they “want to get an ad in the paper” when they are referring to a news story. 

News goes into the paper for free. If someone tells you that you must pay to get news in the Citizen or Beacon, feel free to call them a liar — in public. That's what they are.

Advertising is handled by ad sales reps and the ad composition person. They like it that way because that's how they earn their paychecks.

There is a “wall” between us, and news judgements are not made on the basis of whether someone buys an ad. It may have not come in time, been unfit to print, would compromise our ethics policy or something else of greater importance needed the available space.  

Two weeks ago, I put all the week's news — only 217 separate items, plus photos, into a folder. That did not include the stories we would write. We only had 32 pages in the paper. Three pages were for classified ads and there were ads on most every other page. Now you know why an item sometimes does not get into print.

I am thankful for those who advertise because they not only provide my paycheck, but they make this newspaper possible for you. 

We do not impugn a person or business if they do not advertise. If we have a genuine negative news story on someone who is not an advertiser, we don't handle it differently from any other news item.

We do this so you know the Citizen and Beacon can be “read all over and believed like the Bible.”

In my first column, I pledged to do my best, and acknowledged I would fall short of expectations and disappoint you on occasion. I hope that disappointment has been the exception rather than the rule. 

And thank you. 

Thank you for blessing us by reading and believing.

Lou Elliott Jones is editor of the Chiefland Citizen and Cedar Key Beacon. She can be contacted at 352-493-4796 or editor@chieflandcitizen.com.