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Leifeste: Giving a community newspaper back to the community

May 9, 2011

In June of 2010, I had a life-changing decision to make not only for myself and my husband, but also for the future of The Saline Courier. As vice president of Horizon Publications Inc., the Courier had been one of the newspapers whose publisher reported directly to me for approximately two years. During that time I had made numerous visits to Benton to meet with the staff and evaluate the health of the Courier as a business as well as a community media outlet. It was broken on both accounts.
While the Courier has continued to be an award-winning newspaper, and we are extremely proud of that fact, the true measure of a community newspaper is its perception in the community it serves.
Faced with those facts, the decision was made that my husband and I would relocate to Benton from Rhode Island to take on those challenges personally. For any of you who have come to know us, there were personal factors as well. The decision was made a bit easier due to the fact that we are both Texans and Texas is where our parents, children and grandchildren reside. Benton is just a tad closer to them than Wakefield, R.I. But in the end, the decision was more about business.
Since that time, it has been my goal to revive this newspaper at every level. From the minute that I stepped in the door, I was focused on giving this newspaper back to you – the community that it serves. Many changes have been put into place. We have made some key personnel decisions, implemented new policies and procedures, made capital investments in new equipment and worked very hard to build a strategy to achieve these goals. We have created new products and we did a major overhaul on our website.
Some of these changes were very visible to the community and some were not, but they were all essential. I know that for some, changes haven’t happened quickly enough. I will just say that it is very difficult to fix everything in 10 months – it certainly took longer than that to get us to our current state. The fact of the matter is it continues to be a process and not an event.
Have I made some missteps? You bet I have. But, I have also listened to everyone who has spoken to me about the newspaper. I listened when it was good, and I listened when it was something that was hard for me to hear. In the end, we have made many changes and decisions based on your comments, thoughts and suggestions.
Today we announced what I believe to be one of the most critical of those changes: the naming of Brent Davis as our new managing editor. It is with great pleasure that we make this announcement.
Being a lifelong resident of Benton and Saline County, Brent brings to the Courier an element that has been missing for some time. I hope and pray that this is just the latest of many great things that you will see come out of the Courier building. We will continue to put our readers and advertisers number one and will work to develop new programs that will benefit you.
We are committed to being the source for local, local news in this community. In addition, we will strive to be more flexible and creative with our advertisers. It is our goal to introduce programs and products that help our clients grow their business. We will continue to provide our readers with informative and unbiased news.
We have a great history in this community. We have been serving you for more than 135 years – and are looking forward to serving you for another 135.

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