Pensacola, Florida
Saturday November 22nd 2014

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Outtakes 9/29/11

SIDING WITH LOCALS

The Independent News may have been the only newspaper in the country that refused to take any BP ads concerning the oil spill and its version of the facts. The decision cost us somewhere between $40,000–$60,000, not an insignificant amount for a small paper like ours.

We made the decision because we wanted to show our support for the community we love. My fellow publishers didn’t take so kindly to our stand, arguing that the British oil giant had the right to get its viewpoint in the paper. Had our paper been the only print medium in this market, I might have relented, but fortunately, for BP, there is a Gannett-owned daily newspaper in Pensacola, too.

We want to always be clear that we stand with you. Our politics and views may not always agree, but the IN is very much a local paper.

Our reporting reflects that. We wrote about A.A. Dixon because we believed that the community was getting a one-sided view of a school that is trying to tackle education in the inner-city, something which the Escambia Public School District has failed to do consistently.

The impression by the District was one of a failing school that was poorly run. We saw dedicated teachers, a new leadership team committed to turning around the school and students who had improved, but still were below grade levels.

On Sept. 19, the charter school was on the brink of being closed. Superintendent Malcolm Thomas reversed his recommendation and the school was given reprieve to operate another year. We believe the IN played a part by building support for Dixon.

Last month, Quint Studer was caught up in a controversy about whether he had pledged $2 million or $4 million towards the Maritime Park. Both the News Journal and the Independent News had access to much of the same information. The daily believed that there were two pledges. We saw it as one.

Recently the daily newspaper demanded Denis McKinnon, Jr. resign as chairman of the Tourist Development Commission because of meetings held with hotel owners regarding the control of tourism. We found McKinnon had done nothing but try to surface issues that the county had avoided for years.

We supported Studer and McKinnon because the facts warranted it, and we knew the character of the men. Both had given unselfishly to this community for years. Being a local paper, we understood that. They deserved better treatment.

We always look at facts and pick our editorial stances carefully. If we err, we want to err on your side.