We are looking for a flock of fans

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 2, 2010

One of the first things I learned when I started working for a newspaper is that it is just as easy to find detractors as it is to find fans.

I know that no matter how hard I try, there will always be someone who disagrees with what I photograph or what I write. It’s the nature of the business when you are covering the most fascinating people and the sometimes controversial stories of our community.

Having fans is great, but it is not something we at the newspaper overtly seek — until today.

We want you to become a fan of The Natchez Democrat on Facebook, the ultra-popular social networking site, to not only keep up with the news but to also help find a cure for cancer.

A few years ago, a small group of our staff put together its first Relay for Life team. We wanted to join in the annual American Cancer Society fundraiser.

The Miss-Lou Relay for Life has consistently been among the nation’s most successful — being named the No. 2 in the nation’s Top 10 per capita list. Last year’s efforts raised $249,920.52, placing the Miss-Lou at the top of state-wide and regional per capita lists.

We kicked off our Relay for Life efforts with a penny drive to raise money. As the a newbie to the Relay for Life effort, we were amazed at how many pennies we collected that first year. But pennies only go so far. The staff wanted to make a bigger contribution to the fight.

The following year, team captain Cassie Strickland came up with idea to tend a flock of “pink flamingos” and herd them into the yards of unsuspecting Miss-Lou residents all for a good cause and a good laugh.

Since that first year, our “Flocking for a Cure” flamingo coop has grown significantly. What began with just a few birds poking their heads above neighborhood bushes has turned into a flock of a hundred birds covering entire front lawns.

These days we offer “anti-flocking” insurance just in case you feel a flamingo attack approaching. If you are interested in any of our flocking options, you can go to www.misslouflocking.com or you can call Cassie at 601-445-3617.

Each year our efforts have grown. This year is no exception. As a part of our team’s effort to raise more money for Relay for Life, we are asking everyone to become a Facebook fan of The Natchez Democrat. This week the newspaper celebrated its 1,000th fan. By the start of this year’s Relay, we hope to multiply that number by five. For every Facebook fan The Natchez Democrat receives before Friday, May 7, the newspaper will donate 10 cents to Miss-Lou Relay for Life. By becoming our fan, you will be a fan of the fight against cancer, which touches almost everyone in our coverage area.

Our goal is to have at least 5,000 fans by the start of the Relay event, and if we go over that goal, we pledge to keep the donation going until we hit 10,000 fans. This is in addition to the other Relay fundraisers that the newspaper is doing. Simply log into your Facebook page, type “The Natchez Democrat” in the search box at the top of the screen, then click “Become a fan.” After you become a fan, click the “Suggest to friends” button and invite your entire friends list to become friends of the newspaper too.

Help us make The Natchez Democrat Facebook fan club a success, but more importantly, help us find a cure.

Ben Hillyer is the Web editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or by e-mail at ben.hillyer@natchezdemocrat.com.