My name is Christina Pierce, and I am the newly-appointed publisher of The PineBelt NEWS.
I can’t adequately express how excited and happy I am to be able to write those words. You see – I feel like I’ve come home. I feel like this is the endgame for me, the logical destination after a very long journey.
I began my career in this fascinating industry in 1997 right here in Hattiesburg as an advertising sales representative for the Hattiesburg American. Newspapers were king. Everyone read them. Those were different times and years before the internet challenged the newspaper business to its core.
The journey took me from Hattiesburg to Memphis to Olive Branch, and then to Shreveport, Jackson, Monroe, Alexandria, and finally to New Iberia, Louisiana. I met wonderful people, and learned so much at each tour of duty, but that’s what they felt like: temporary stops along the way.
There are several reason why the Pine Belt feels like home. We have always loved this area, and we have six children and eight grandchildren here. We have nothing but fond memories of our time here, and we’ve wanted to return for several years. So we did.
This job that I am so thankful to have was not an option when I moved here last February. My husband is in sales and was able to move and keep his long-term job, but I was unemployed.
The plan was to open my own business, and then the pandemic hit.
I was putting on socks when I got the phone call that would change everything. I jumped at this opportunity, and I didn’t realize how much I love this business until I was back into the thick of it.
While I’m ever so happy to be writing these words in this place, I also recognize the value of everything I’ve learned about being a publisher of a community newspaper.
I’ve learned that opinions are like belly buttons: most all of us have one, but the value of me subjecting you to mine is dubious at best.
I will share that I am hard to pin down when it comes to political leanings.
I tend to lean to the right when it comes to government. I believe that there is inherent value in limiting the power of our elected officials.
I tend to lean to the left when considering my love for animals. But again, I know that my opinions are certainly valuable but also certainly not more valuable than yours.
There is another reason I will steer clear of publishing my viewpoint on political issues. We, as a society, have become more and more stagnated in our own personal world views. For whatever reason, we polarize ourselves based on however we see an issue on a particular day.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.”
I refuse to allow myself to value my opinion to the point that I can no longer consider opposing opinions, no matter how strange they may seem to me.
So, why publish an opinion page? We do so simply to stimulate public debate. We need to be exposed to different viewpoints, both to recognize our own and to consider those of others.
My job, as I see it, is to do my best to make sure we are publishing a balanced report of the issues confronting us.
I believe in the value of a newspaper to a community. If you are reading this, you probably agree, but if you have any doubts, just Google “news deserts.” In the past few decades, this country has lost a quarter of its newspapers, and the consequences have proven to be dire.
So, thank you for reading. Without you, we would not exist.
I’m anxious to know what you think about us. How are we doing? How could we make your local newspaper better?
In other times, I would invite you for a visit, but given current conditions, I’ll invite you to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to getting to know you.
Christina Pierce is the publisher of The PineBelt NEWS and Signature Magazine. She is happy to be back in Hattiesburg, and she looks forward to meeting everyone over time.