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Advance will press on

By By James Crawford
News Editor
There is an old saying that you have to be shoved out of the nest to learn that you have wings and master the art of flying on your own. Although I would have preferred to have waited a while longer, the departure of former publisher Paul Keane has the staff here at The Advance flapping our arms like crazy to catch an upwind.
The Bible says there is a time and purpose for every thing under Heaven. Paul decided his time here at The Advance was over and it was time to begin something anew. We who are still here will miss him greatly. Paul brought a lot of skills to the table that can't be overlooked nor should they.
He instilled in us a plan of action that we plan to continue. He had a singular vision that the paper should cover any events that affected the community and cover it to the best of our ability and so we shall.
We all want The Atmore Advance to be the best newspaper that it can be and continue to serve the readers at the level to which they have become accustomed and I think we can do just that. Of course there will be some adjustments that have to be made and we've made some of those already and will continue to adjust in the coming weeks. What we will not do is compromise the integrity we've struggled so hard to achieve nor reduce the level of reporting that we have aspired to.
I want to assure everyone right now that The Advance is not falling under and we aren't going anywhere. In fact, we have had plans to enhance our area coverage that we will still implement in one way or another. We will be short-handed for a brief time but the staff has really rallied around to chip in and help. Everyone here is devoted to seeing this paper thrive in the Atmore community and beyond.
It's my believe that although we are by no means perfect we as a group have a lot to be proud of in the last six months and although I'm loath to brag about how well we've done, I wanted our readers to know where their paper stands.
When I first arrived here in Atmore, the general perception was that we didn't care. Most of the people I talked to were surprised that I bothered to come out and cover their event at all – an unfortunate side effect of the previous regime I suppose. Now, in contrast to the hands off approach we receive calls daily to come out to events all over the town and we gladly show up early and stay late to get the job done. Our education news is one area I'm particularly proud of in that we have consistently produced content from the immediate area schools each and every week and the relationships I have built with the principals and counselors at each school is intact and well.
Our website is another area that has seen improvement during the past few months. The site has been regularly updated on Wednesday and Sunday each week in a timely manner, often before the paper edition even goes to press. In addition, we now use the website as our 'third' edition and post emergency news and major events as they happen, on that day.
During the week of March 28-April 3, we hit a daily average of 672 visitors to our site, the highest number we've had in the time Paul and I had been here in Atmore and the highest daily average The Advance has had in over a year from what I could find. If that wasn't exciting enough, last week our daily number went even higher to 684 and could equal that this week.
We have received emails from people all over the country who are reading our online edition, including many in Louisiana who have been following the Melinda McGhee missing persons case. In fact, we even received a call from CBS News who requested the latest info and a mug shot because they were following our story. Atmore has many things to be proud of and the staff here at The Advance hopes that the community's paper is one of those things. We will continue to strive to enhance our coverage and the image of our little gem of a town and with your patience will endure the next few weeks without a blemish.
James Crawford is News Editor of the Atmore Advance. He can be reached by phone at 368-2123 or by e-mail at james.crawford@atmoreadvance.com His column runs on Wednesdays.