The Madison County Journal
March 29, 2000
showed balance on big events
Congratulations are in order for the editors of the Montgomery
Advertiser. In their March 5, 2000, edition, the editors were
faced with two dramatic events, a Presidential visit to Selma,
to commemorate the start of the Civil Rights movement, and a
Confederate Heritage rally.
Had the editors followed the pattern of news coverage in Atlanta,
Miami, or most other large Southern media, they would have put
all their resources on the Civil Rights story, and ignored the
Confederates. But that is not what happened.
The two events received equal space on the front page and in
a special section. Each event was covered by a team of experienced
reporters. In each story, photographs and side bars were used
to illustrate details of the event.
I was especially impressed with a sidebar containing pictures
of the various Confederate flags with a history of their development.
I was equally impressed with their decision to show several blacks
waving Confederate flags and carrying signs saying "Heritage,
A touching story from the Civil Rights march described the return
to Selma of the widows of two leaders. Coretta Scott King and
Juanita Abernathy were profiled with quotes about their memories
of their husbands and the civil rights struggle.
The paper included instructions on how to avoid the presidential
motorcade as well as a detailed agenda of events in Montgomery
Publisher Thomas A. Bookstaver and editors Paula S. Moore and
Andrew Oppmann did it right. They could easily have used the
juxtaposition of the two events to generate controversy. They
could have given one event a positive slant while playing up
the negative side of the other. They did neither. They gave both
events fair and balanced coverage.
I hope the major media in the rest of the South and around the
nation will study the March 5 issue of the Montgomery Advertiser
to see what quality, fair and balanced reporting is like. I would
suggest that this issue be preserved in every journalism school
in America to teach objective reporting.
In this climate of south bashing, it is refreshing to find a
major newspaper that gives Southerners equal, unbiased coverage.
I salute the staff and management of the Montgomery Advertiser
and extend my thanks for their accurate and thorough coverage
of the Confederate Heritage rally, and the Selma re-enactment.
We need more newspapers like the Montgomery Advertiser.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal.
Madison County Journal
March 29, 2000
Upset with paper's coverage of zoning matter
My name is Barbara Fitzpatrick. I own land in Madison County
and lived there for over 30 years. I also had the pleasure of
working with the school system there for almost 20 years. This
is my first time to feel the need to write a letter to the newspaper.
I am writing concerning a front-page article entitled "Controversial
rezoning withdrawn" written by Mr. Frank Gillispie.
There were mistakes in this article that I feel should be dealt
with. The first mistake is the fact that the 13 acres referred
to is not near Haggard's Crossing. It is near Stovall's Crossing.
The second mistake is the fact that the person referred to in
the paper is Bob Fitzpatrick. Bob is, in fact, my son, a fact
that I am very happy to acknowledge. I am the landowner in this
matter. I made a two-hour drive to Madison County to sign the
proper papers to apply for this rezoning. The sign was placed
on my property on the specified date. You may be thinking that
since I no longer live in Madison County, that I do not care
what happens there. That would be wrong. My family and most of
my friends are still there.
It pleases me to know that quote, "a large contingent in
the audience" applauded because we were not present and
also that the commission chairman Patricia Mahoney announced
that "We agree with you." Whom do you agree with, Ms.
Mahoney? This was not a battle. There was no big controversy
as stated. You apply for a rezoning; it is either approved or
denied. Why do we need a cheering section for this? Let free
government work as it should. Your job is to conduct business
in an orderly fashion, if my lawyer is correct, and I believe
he is. After all, you are the chairman of this committee, and
I feel that it would be in the best interest of Madison County
that you conduct yourself as such. This meeting was not supposed
to be a time for people to belittle others.
As for the big controversy, neither I nor any member of my family
has at any time been engaged in a controversial conversation
with any member of our community about this matter. I do appreciate
the fact that we have rules and regulations and I am very willing
to abide by them. What I will not tolerate is to be placed on
the front page, wrong names printed and misinformation reported.
The fact that people that I have known and respected for so long
would applaud this really amazes me. The facts are simple. The
request was denied. It would probably have been denied even if
I had been there. That is all part of our government and I find
I do not expect to find this letter on your editorial page, but
rather on the front page. If I have been given front-page coverage
for you to exploit misinformation, then I will expect front-page
coverage for my reply. My name and address is included. As the
owner of this land, if anyone wishes to respond, please do so
with the correct person. A telephone call or letter would be
appropriate if you wish to respond. I do not intend to carry
on a battle with anyone via the newspaper. I feel that enough
harm has already been done.
809 Walton Woods Court
Augusta, Ga. 30909
Editor's Note: The Madison County Journal only prints letters
to the editor in its opinion section. Opinion pieces by the paper's
staff are only printed in this section as well.
The Madison County Journal
March 29, 2000
Shut up, Shania!
Shania Twain tells men in one of her many
obnoxious songs, "That don't impress me much."
Well, good then. Who said we ever wanted to impress you in the
I don't know if it's just me, but if you ever are station surfing
while riding in your car and land upon the country music stations,
male-bashing among female artists always seems to rear its ugly
A good number of female country artists seem to have nothing
better to talk about than how men are inconsiderate, beer-guzzling
chauvinists, who care nothing about their girlfriends and wives,
except for maybe them being personal maids.
Well, this is far from the truth and something needs to be said.
The biggest culprit in this male-bashing scheme is Shania Twain,
the current queen of country music.
And while none of this is a very big deal, it tends to get on
one's nerves as the same old thing is being said over and over.
It's like that annoying mosquito that keeps buzzing in your ear
and won't quit. You just want to shut it up.
Now, I am not a huge country music fan. My roots are in classic
rock, but being from a rural setting, country music appeals to
me as I have several stations locked in on my presets on my radio.
And whenever I land upon a country station, it is the same old
song and dance by today's female country artists: women being
mistreated by big, bad self-centered men.
Artists like Shania, like the mosquito, start to "buzz"
in people's ears and say, "Lets GO girls!!!....." and
proceeds into her "I am woman, hear me roar" type of
Ms. Twain by far seems to have the biggest chip on her shoulder.
From her very first hit a few years ago, she let it be known
of her female chauvinist views. Lyrics like "I can be late
for a date - that's fine - but he'd BETTER be on time,"
from the song "Any Man of Mine," simply sums up her
attitude toward the male gender. "And if I change my mind
- a million times - he'd BETTER say, 'Yeah I like it that way.'"
Okay, whatever, Shania. See how far that attitude will get you.
Ms. Twain's only redeeming quality is that she is appealing to
look at, which allows her to keep on with this personal grudge
she has against men. "Man! I feel like a woman!" she
says. Good for you, Ms. Twain - thanks for letting us know that.
Why don't you try to be creative and come up with some new material
for your next album?
Shania Twain further conveyed her swelling ego in last year's
her cross-over hit, "That Don't Impress Me Much," where
she proceeded to tell us that basically any man wasn't good enough
to "keep her warm during the long, cold, lonely nights,"
or whatever the words to the song are.
This isn't a woman showing her position of power as a feminist
would argue. It's a woman showing us how cocky and obnoxious
Shania isn't alone in this country music craze of pointing out
every error of the male gender in song. From "Guys Do It
All the Time"(a song from some girl group wanting to go
out and do all the wrong things that guys supposedly do) to the
Dixie Chicks singing about abusive men in their latest song,
men are constantly portrayed in a negative light in the female
side of country music. Women cheat, lie and have all the other
shortcomings that males do, but male artists don't tend to bring
them up nearly as much as the women musicians do toward men.
But not all female country vocalists are mad at the world. Shania
should take a few tips from fellow country artist Faith Hill.
Hill looks 20 times better than Ms. Twain ever will but has an
ego 20 times smaller. Hill doesn't think her good looks give
her the title of God's gift to men as Twain tends to think.
Men in country music today tend to express how much they love
their girlfriends and wives, rarely divulging into female-bashing.
However, in the midst of all the male-bashing, a song of retaliation
from one of today's greatest country artists in my opinion, Toby
Keith, surfaced. According to one DJ, Keith's song "How
do you like me now?" was intended as a response to Shania
and her man-trashing faction.
If you haven't heard this tune, the song tells of a country star
that makes it big and takes pleasure in showing off all his success
to high school crush of his that was nothing more than a materialistic,
gold digger who he wasn't "good enough for." Toby gets
to come back and laugh at her because she married into money
and is now unhappy with her life 20 years later. Toby should
get a Grammy for saying this because it is a theme that is so
prevalent, but men have never said anything about it in song
till now. I sincerely hope the song becomes a country classic.
Hopefully, Shania will listen to this and realize that women
can actually be wrong - something she has yet to fathom.
Ben Munro is a reporter for The Madison County Journal.