Madison County Opinion...

 July 5, 2000

By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
July 5, 2000

Frankly Speaking

Major media missed
real flag story

A lengthy article in the weekend papers by Associated Press writer Jim Davenport about the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse dome reveals the underlying bias of the media against the traditional South.
Davenport was trying to be fair and balanced in his report by acknowledging that many people consider the Confederate flag to be a symbol of heritage and valor. He made sure that he used quotes from pro-flag activists in his article. But he failed to report a vital part of the story, and repeated several erroneous reports.
Davenport reported on the statement by the NAACP that they intended to continue the boycott of South Carolina. He failed to report that the boycott is a total failure. Current statistics from South Carolina indicate that tourism is up by 11 percent this spring. If the boycott has had any effect at all, it has increased the nation's awareness of South Carolina and boosted their economy.
The first error Davenport repeated is that one-third of South Carolina find the Confederate flag to be offensive. He is basing that figure on the state's one-third black population. In order for this statement to be true, all of the state's black citizens would have to object to the Confederate icon. That is not the case. The actual number of blacks who actively oppose the flag is quite small. A majority of them are indifferent to the question and a small but significant number of the actively support the flag.
Finally, he continues to use the highly inflated figures for the number of flag protesters who attended the anti-flag rally in Columbia. That number continues to grow with each report, with Davenport using 46,000. A comparison of photographs of the anti-flag rally and the pro-flag rally that followed a few days later indicates that the two crowds were roughly the same size. The flag supporters engaged in numerous related activities, such as barbecues and parades, that were easily measured. Thus an accurate estimate for each group was 10,000 people.
It is the responsibility of a journalist to get it right, to tell the complete story and to be sure that all sides of the story are fairly presented. Now, I realize, having written against a deadline for the past 14 years, that these ideals are often difficult to meet. There are times when the complete story is not available at press time. Last week, for example, I had to leave a murder trial story incomplete because the jury did not return a verdict by press time. But the information Davenport needed to accurately report this story was available. Had he taken the time to properly study the background of the story, he would have known about the failure of the boycott. He would have known that the figures given for the protest rally were completely out of line with reality. He would have read the surveys showing the majority of South Carolina's black population are not offended by the Confederate flag.
Davenport failed to obtain these facts because of his indwelling antagonism toward the South and her symbols. The inaccurate reports fit well with his preconceived opinions about the South, so he didn't bother to check to see if they were accurate.
It is not just Davenport, of course. How many reports have you seen in any part of the national or area media about the failure of the boycott? I only learned the details by a careful search of all news releases on the subject. A few local South Carolina writers have reported the figures, and they were ignored by the major media.
If a story fits major media's political and social agenda, they flood the airways and newspapers with the details. If a story goes against their agenda, it gets ignored. Is it a surprise that the major media's ratings are falling like a rock?
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at


Letter To The Editor
The Madison County Journal
July 5, 2000

Veterans can influence elections
Dear editor:
Today there are fewer and fewer veterans and veterans' advocates being elected to office. This has resulted in insufficient funding for veterans' programs and the military, poor leadership and poor morale, all which serve to decimate the armed forces. Veterans' benefits, especially medical, are being restricted. Pension benefits for veterans and their widows are below poverty level. Most foreigners arriving in this country automatically receive more benefits from our government than what the widows of our veterans' are granted. (The maximum income allowed from all sources for a widow is $502 per month.) The only way to reverse this injustice is to elect individuals who will promote and support veterans programs. This needs to start at the local level and we can make a difference.
The veteran vote can influence an election. Each state senate district has a population of approximately 10,000 veterans. Figuring an ultra-conservative influence factor of 10 votes per each veteran, that translates into a block of 100,000 votes! This could influence the outcome in any state senate race easily. As for the congressional elections, this 11th District has an estimated veteran population of over 62,000. Factoring in the influence factor of 10, this equates to a block of over 620,000 votes, which any candidate would love to have in his corner.
Veterans, we can make a difference and we must! We need to band together to ensure that we elect officials who, if not veterans themselves, are veterans' advocates. We need to select the candidates carefully based upon their knowledge and support of veterans' matters, both at the state and national level. We need to hold the current officials accountable for their votes and actions when it comes to veterans' benefits and national defense.
Fellow veterans, if we don't do it, no one else is going to do it for us.

Sincerely, LCDR Gary Locke, USN (ret.), Danielsville

By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
July 5, 2000

Facts about the Journal
The Madison County Journal is fortunate to have a loyal readership in the county. Some are very familiar with the paper. Others may be less aware of how the paper was founded and how it is operated.
Here are some things you may or may not know about The Madison County Journal:
·The Madison County Journal is not affiliated with Madison County Newspapers, which includes The Comer News and the Danielsville Monitor. These two papers are owned by long-time newspaperman Jere Ayers.
·The Journal was founded in 1986 by Frank Gillispie, who is pictured on the left side of this page. The paper was originally called The Dogsboro Journal. Gillispie, whose mother, Nancy, was killed in an accident in 1965 on Old Hwy. 29, founded the paper to raise awareness of the need for a stoplight at the Dogsboro intersection, where Hwy. 29 meets Glenn-Carrie Road and Fortson's Store Road.
·Gillispie originally produced the paper out of his house. The Journal's first office in Danielsville was in the building that is now the office of The Danielsville Monitor. The Journal then moved to Albany Avenue, in what is now Phil Piche's realty office. In 1995, the Journal moved to its current locale, next to the law office of Pat Graham and across from the county government complex.
·Gillispie sold the Journal in early 1997 to Graham and John Scoggins, who sold the paper six months later in August to MainStreet Newspapers, a business owned by the Buffington family. The operation includes the Journal and three other publications: The Jackson Herald, The Commerce News and The Banks County News. These papers share a classified section and are all produced and printed in Jefferson.
·The Buffingtons include Herman and Helen, and their sons Mike and Scott. Herman and Helen bought The Jackson Herald in 1965. They created The Banks County News in 1968 and bought The Commerce News in 1987.
·Apart from Gillispie, others who have had a hand in running the Journal included Carlene Peavy, managing editor for six years; Dena Watkins, managing editor for approximately six months; and Bert Brantley and Angela Gary, who ran the paper from September of 1997 until February of 1998, when I was named to my current position.
·The Journal is printed on MainStreet's large Goss Web press with 13 units - one of the largest setups for a weekly operation in the nation. Apart from the four MainStreet publications, several other publications are printed on the company's press. This number varies between five and 10 per week. Various other printing jobs are done on the press as well.
·The Madison County Journal has a total circulation this week of 3,513, up from approximately 1,500 when it was purchased by MainStreet Newspapers three years ago. The Madison County Journal is also online at
·The Journal is produced on Macintosh computers. The program used for page production is QuarkXPress. To make stories fit on a page, text may be altered by slight changes in the size of the words, the space between letters and the space between lines of type.
·Items that are turned in to the Journal are edited, typed, then given to a proofreader. Once an article is placed on a page, a proofreader again looks over the story and the editor views the page and looks for any flaws in the positioning of text, headlines and pictures. This system eliminates many mistakes - but not all of them.
·Once a page is completed on the computer, a full-sized negative of the page is produced on a machine called an Imagesetter, an expensive and temperamental piece of equipment. Despite occasional headaches, the Imagesetter helps speed up the production process, while improving the quality of pictures that run in the paper. MainStreet Newspapers is one of the few weekly operations in the country to have one of these machines.
Hopefully, this has given you a little insight into the Madison County Journal. Please feel free to contact us with any suggestions on how to improve the paper.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.

Letter To The Editor
The Madison County Journal
July 5, 2000

'You can't fight the DOT'
Dear editor:
We feel it is our duty to let the people of Madison County know what they are up against if they have to deal with the Department of Transportation. As most of you know, we challenged the DOT in a condemnation case where they gave us $525 for 1.25 acres of commercial land located on Hwy. 72. This land was located directly across from an acre of residential land that the DOT purchased for $30,000. We went to court on May 30th and had a 12-person jury represent our right to a trial. The 12 jurors listened to all evidence and awarded us $50,000 for the 1.25 acres based on testimony they heard in the courtroom. The DOT had 30 days to pay us the amount awarded plus interest. Approximately 25 days after this verdict was recorded we received a notice that the DOT was appealing our case. The three reasons below are their claims for grounds for appeal:
1.) The verdict was contrary to law.
2.) The verdict was excessive.
3.) The trial court erred in qualifying the owner of the property as an expert witness.
We do not understand how you can go to court for justice and then be told the DOT can appeal after a jury has reached a verdict. If these three motions for appeal hold up and the DOT is granted their appeal, then where is the justice for the common people? We have always heard people make the comment, "you can't fight the DOT." And if this is fair and just treatment, maybe this statement is true.

Sincerely, Linda and Harold Gaulding, Colbert

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