I am part of a B-I-G corporation

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I am not ashamed

By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

There is a hot little competition going on now that you may not know about. Maybe you did if you read the little item that said this newspaper and its employees are part of a big corporation, Landmark Media Enterprises.
We are. I am not ashamed of it. It's not some dirty little secret.
But why is it that that information is being spread about now?
Money. County tax money.
The Levy County Journal and my newspaper want the money used to advertise county meetings, public hearings and other information it wants you to know. Others are also stalking the tax money.
The county has decided to ask for competitive pricing on those ads.
At the same time, the county commission is looking at adopting an ordinance that gives preference in such bids to local businesses, defining "local" as a business that has either maintained an office in Levy for at least one year prior to the bid being issued or one that employs at least four employees who have resided in Levy County for one year prior to the bid being issued.
The Journal's Andy Andrews asked the commission if this meant Walmart could bid and win county business.
The answer was "yes." Not Walmart corporation, but just the Chiefland store bidding as a single vendor.
Now the other paper asks local business people do they know what local really is? And it mentions, as if no one knew, that we are part of a big corporation.
District 4 Commissioner Ryan Bell (R-Chiefland) has defined local this way: "I'm just trying to give the business to the people who pay the taxes."
That would include the couple of hundred or so people employed at Walmart, the thousands of customers. who also pay fuel, property and utility taxes that support the county's tax base.
That would also include the employees at the Chiefland Citizen. We have homes, vehicles and paychecks that contribute to Levy County's tax base. The Citizen owns its building. and we paid the $5,836.12 property tax bill in December.
We are part of a group that publishes in Citrus, Marion, Sumter, Gadsden and Wakulla counties in Florida. Each is a newspaper dedicated to the best interests of its community.
We are all part of Landmark Media Enterprises LLC, which owns more than 120 publications, including sports magazines for Florida and FSU. It owns four major daily newspapers — including The Virginian Pilot, which employed me when the Navy stationed my husband at Norfolk.
The corporation owns TV stations, and has owned and sold an Internet company.
Landmark also once owned The Weather Channel, which was started by Landmark's founder Frank Batten Sr. and a small group that invested after they stopped laughing at the idea of people talking about weather 24/7 on a cable channel. NBC Universal in 2008 paid a big pile of money for The Weather Channel.  
The late Frank Batten Sr. started Landmark, the predecessor to Landmark Media Enterprises, when he only owned The Virginian Pilot. The privately held corporation has grown, and despite these dire times for publishing, it is still today owned primarily by the Batten family and headed by Frank Batten Jr.
Employees who have devoted their work to the company speak highly of being brought "into the family" when gifted with stock in the company.
So no big banks or investment houses here. No Wall Street boogeymen calling the shots. Just Frank Jr., some family members and associates.
I am Landmark.
I am proud I live and work for Landmark in Levy County.