June 8, 2009
On March 12, 1922, the occasion of the merger of Columbus'' two papers into The Commercial Dispatch, publisher Birney Imes Sr. offered an editorial, much of it relevant today.
"This is the age of consolidation," Imes wrote, "especially ... in the newspaper business. Conditions in the past few years have been bad for newspapers. Results have been disastrous to the industry, perhaps more so than in any other line of business."
In that editorial Imes noted that no less than 11 Mississippi cities have been forced to go to the "one-paper plan."
It''s no secret that these are tough times for newspapers. The industry has been buffeted by the global economic downturn. That and the abundance of free online content has left papers struggling to remain viable. We would venture to say the challenges facing newspapers today are far more severe than those Mr. Imes referenced in his 1922 editorial.
Birney Imes Sr. ran The Commercial Dispatch until his death in 1947. During that same period, his brother Grady owned and published The Starkville News. Grady Imes eventually sold that newspaper and later was elected mayor of Starkville. There is a street in the city named for him, and the house he lived in remains on Greensboro Street.
Today the newspaper run by Birney Imes Sr.''s grandson is taking a bold step into Starkville. At a time when newspapers are contracting, we are launching a new publication, The Starkville Dispatch. For years The Commercial Dispatch has maintained a Starkville news bureau and we''ve covered Mississippi State sports extensively. Response to our Starkville news and sports coverage has, over the years, been encouraging, if not enthusiastic.
Though the two communities differ significantly, residents of both have an intense interest in the other. The reasons to drive the short 20 miles separating the two are many: work, shopping, entertainment and school, to name a few. And, let''s not forget MSU sports.
Just as siblings -- and Columbus and Starkville are siblings of sorts -- have differences and similarities, so will the two "Dispatches." The newspapers will carry the same advertising and much of the same news, though the focus and layouts will be different.
In these ever more complex times, in the age of Twitter, Facebook and anonymous blogs, we believe the solid, responsible news coverage provided by local newspapers has never been more needed.
We mean to provide that for Starkville. We also intend to provide a forum for discussion of public issues, and we plan to weigh in on issues affecting Oktibbeha County. A good newspaper is a collaboration between its staff, readers and the subjects of its coverage. To be as effective as we can be, we need your help, your participation. Together we can make a better Starkville and a better Golden Triangle.