By Jessica Wilson

A year ago this week, I took the biggest risk of my life and decided to continue the tradition of a community newspaper.  I choose to continue that tradition here, in an area where pure and simple goodness remains. I have felt more kindness from the communities of Buford and Sugar Hill than any other place in my life.

Publishing a newspaper is both exhilarating and exhausting.   Members of the press are always on information overload. Endless sources of information are at our fingertips; with the good, the bad, and the ugly continuously thrust into our faces.  It is a struggle as a business owner and journalist to find a balance between money, morals, and media.

My moral compass has always directed me in life, and honestly, I was not prepared for the bad and ugly part of being the owner of a paper; to see exactly how far apart morals and money are from one another in this industry. I have faced many situations where I had to choose between following the money or upholding my morals and standards. I have walked away from opportunities that would financially benefit my company because of devastation those opportunities would have caused to others; devastation that would be irreversible and unkind. 

For almost a year, I have watched news anchors, editors, and bloggers who were reporting the same incidents I; seeing them obtain their information from the same source.  Many reporters seem to twist the most simple situation into something negative, making it unnecessarily complicated, and create a story that does more harm than good. I’ve witnessed how one word can start a riot when media is ‘saying’ it.  

However, I refuse to benefit from another’s hardship, and I try to avoid this type of reporting and publicity.  I am blessed to have a staff of like-minded people behind me. Often, we work for peanuts rather than for profit to instead uphold the moral compass driving this paper.

My editor often reminds me that the right path is not always the easy path.  With a full year under my belt, I now understand that statement in its entirety. This past year has been the hardest yet most fulfilling year of my life.  There have been many moments of frustration and hurt, and I’ve questioned if the risk was worth it at all. But there have also been many, many moments when a reader has stopped me on the street, to say thank you for providing the town this service, or I have walked into businesses that have pages of the paper proudly framed.  This thanks and appreciation, and a desire for a greater good is what keeps me going. It’s what makes me dig my heels in, stand my ground, and continue to follow the compass that has never failed me.

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