Extra page part of growing our news coverage

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 1, 2002

The Natchez Democrat

If you notice an &uot;extra&uot; page in today’s edition, you do not need to grab another cup of coffee or rub your eyes. The extra page is supposed to be there.

And, if everything goes as planned, you’ll find an extra page will be in each Friday edition from this day forward.

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If I was Cajun, I might call it a lagniappe, or a little something extra. But anyone who has ever heard my rendition of &uot;aaaeeee&uot; knows I’m not a Cajun.

But I am excited about the news lagniappe in the newspaper.

Today, we begin publishing a weekly page focused solely on the southern portion of our coverage area &045;&045; Wilkinson and Amite counties.

It is the first time in a number of years the newspaper has focused on providing lots of news coverage in that particular area.

In the past we’ve given hit-and-miss coverage. We would send someone down to cover the really big stories. And, unfortunately, that means covering the occasional murder, fire and drowning.

When that’s all you do in coverage, the residents in the area might think you just have it in for them.

&uot;Y’all only come down here when something bad happens,&uot; is a phrase I’ve heard a time or two.

And, sadly, those callers were correct. We did tend to cross the Wilkinson County line only when some catastrophe occurred &045;&045; or en route to an LSU game.

Hopefully that will begin to change today.

Our purpose is simple: to serve our readers better.

Similar to our venture more than two years ago when we added a daily Louisiana edition, we’re committed to trying our best to meet that goal.

And, like the Louisiana edition, the effort is not to exclude information, but to simply provide more of it.

Key in our plan is the addition of Don McCraine to our staff. Don is a Centreville native who has been writing for The Democrat on a freelance basis for several months.

Don has a nose for news and, more important, a love and respect for the people who live in the community. He will, I am sure, provide good, solid news coverage for our readers &045;&045; all of our readers.

As the current debate about tort reform proves, the readers we serve have much more in common than they have differences.

People in Natchez read with interest when clinics in Wilkinson and Amite counties were closed due to a lack of affordable insurance.

Readers in Centreville have interest in the goings on in Natchez and Concordia Parish.

Our intent is not to compete directly with the weekly newspapers in the area. In fact, we have an excellent working relationship with the Lewises who publish The Woodville Republican.

We provide distinctly different products, each of which aims at a particular readership group.

The Democrat’s goal is to be the South’s best community newspaper.

The addition of the Wilk-Amite page is another small step in reaching that goal.

Kevin Cooper is editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 445-3541 or by e-mail to kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.