Editor’s Note: This story is part of a monthly series in S P A C E, with a special focus on Publishing through the Decades.
‘What we publish each week has a profound effect on people, whether good or bad,’ says Jessica Prevatt, who is the owner and publisher of Florida newspaper, The Baker County Press.
‘It puts a lot of responsibility on us to ensure the story is right, fair and complete… I have to answer to these people daily all over town, and they will hold my feet to the fire if something is wrong. It is a great responsibility that I take very seriously.’
She shared her story for S P A C E’s series, ‘Publishing through the Decades.’ I was curious about her years of experience working on all aspects of making the paper since her start at The Baker County Press in the 1990s.
‘Community journalism—can you talk more about that?’
‘There are so many things I could talk about,’ Prevatt said. ‘Watching how our community comes together in someone’s time of need, and how the newspaper plays a significant role in helping spread the word… Then following up: documenting all the different ways that need is met… I love the full circle nature of community news. Being able to profile residents who are the children of people I went to school with, out here. Celebrating the highs and lows with neighbors, friends and family.’
‘Can you give me an example?’
‘Our local school superintendent ran for office in 2008. She was a first year teacher when I was in kindergarten, and she is moving towards retirement next year. I’ll be able to write her retirement story, and talk about the impact she’s had on this county from the time she entered the system in the early 80s. She was the principal at the school when my oldest son started kindergarten, greeting the upset mamas at the door with hugs… We’ve created a strong friendship over the years, since then. The jobs we have may mean not so pleasant conversations when something goes wrong in the school system that requires scrutiny from the newspaper, [but] we are able to set aside the friendship, deal in a professional manner with the situation, and move on.’
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