Photo Credit: Porter McLeod
The Flagpole staff in our new home, the Sorrells House at 220 Prince Avenue, shortly after we moved in last winter: (l-r front row) Alicia Nickles, Jessica Smith, Cindy Jerrell, Kelly Hart, Anita Aubrey and (l-r back row) Larry Tenner, Blake Aued, Sarah Te
Last year at this time, Flagpole had just moved into our new offices here on Prince Avenue. When, after 20 years in our old location on Foundry Street, we learned that it was being sold to a fraternity, we had to scramble, but happily came to roost in this beautiful old (1907) house across the street from the Grit and all the energy generated by the Bottleworks and other businesses along Prince.
Our new home gives us a locus, a visibility, just as the newspaper itself is a physical presence all over town, one that you want to have around, even if you are also consulting it from your computer at home or your tablet or phone on the go.
The relationship between Flagpole online and Flagpole in your hand is interesting in this age of the Internet, and it’s related to our physical presence in this house, on this street, in this town.
We’re all inundated with information online, and we’re not sure where a lot of it comes from, so we’re not sure how much to believe. That puts a premium on sources we know and trust. If one of our Facebook friends posts a link to a scientist or a cat who says that a giant asteroid is heading straight for us, we might read it, but then we move on to the video of the keyboardist serenading the elephants. If the New York Times says the asteroid is on the way, we start packing.
The richness and speed of the Internet are indispensable, but that swirling plethora of information also whets our appetite for reliable, believable sources—for context.
That’s what Flagpole provides: context. When you read something in Flagpole, you know where it’s coming from. You know who wrote it. You know that we’re reliable, even if not perfect. If we make an error, we admit it and correct it. And you know that we are conscientiously trying not to make errors while acting as your eyes and ears, attuned to our community and beyond.
Moreover, Flagpole’s content grapples with the issues of our community—our government and politics, our arts and entertainment, our food and drink, our schools. We’re not just filling up pages; we’re engaging in a dialogue about the quality of our lives here, constructing the context through which to understand Athens.
This context carries over to our advertising, too. You are, by and large, reading ads in Flagpole for local businesses. The believability of these ads is enhanced by the Flagpole context, by our emphasis on accuracy and reliability. And these advertisements promote businesses that are part of our community, whose owners you know or can contact, whose wares you can touch, like you can touch Flagpole.
This localness, this reliability, this quality of being embedded in Athens just cannot be replicated by a faraway computer online somewhere. With Flagpole, as with our local businesses, what you see is what you get, and you know who stands behind it. That kind of reassurance is of tremendous value in a world filled with information of unknown origin.
October 27 marked the 27th year that Flagpole has been the Colorbearer of Athens, a longevity that helps explain why we are so much at home here. We are still staffed and owned by local people whom you know and can reach when you need us. You know where we are; you know who we are; and you know where we’re coming from. That’s what context means and why it is so important to the impact of Flagpole stories and advertisements.
We don’t take all this for granted. We’re constantly looking for ways to improve Flagpole, to make it more readable, more informative, easier to handle. In this week's print issue you may notice some streamlining of the look and layout of Flagpole, and we’ll soon have some more tweaks for the online version, too.
Thanks for reading Flagpole. You’re the reason we’re here.