Editorial: Brandi Owczarz

“The Calhoun Times Facebook page serves as a place for the paper to let Calhoun and Gordon County know what is going in the community. It works in conjunction with CalhounTimes.com.

It is a place for you to share your opinion about certain topics and should remain a friendly, kind atmosphere.

We will not allowing any cursing, libelous comments or personal attacks. That includes personal attacks against our staff. If you have something to say about a staff member or the Calhoun Times in general, please contact us at 70-629-2231.”

Yes, I realize the above statement has some typo’s in it; unfortunately, it was placed in the “About” section of the Calhoun Times Facebook page long before I came on board, and it’s just never been something I’ve reviewed until this last week. Once this column hits print and is put up on the website, I will be cleaning up the typos.

My purpose for today’s column is to explain why Mr. Hunter Hammond was blocked from the Calhoun Times Facebook page last week. Hunter, the son of Calhoun City Councilman David Hammond, took to our Facebook page Friday night to defend his dad in the ongoing City Council saga.

Most of what Hunter posted was fine for our page: he got a little rough and did cross the whole “attacks against our staff” line a little, but he vehemently disagrees with my COLUMN from last Saturday’s Calhoun Times, and that’s perfectly okay. What a lot of people don’t understand is what a COLUMN is versus what a STORY is.

My COLUMN (and any column: Jerry Smith, Ken Herron, Dick Yarbrough, Uncle Billy, etc.) is an opinion piece; it’s my opinion on any topic I choose it to be. Last week’s COLUMN happened to be centered around the antics of the Calhoun City Council. And my skin is thick; I can take the criticism surrounding my column. Luckily, for every one person who was upset by it, there were at least a dozen people who were thanking me for it.

Honestly, I admire Hunter for sticking up for his dad the way he did. Since Hunter might not know, I am a widow with three children, and I’d give anything if my children’s dad was still here to say or do something that is scrutinized by the public so my children would have the opportunity to go on social media and defend him. And I have a close relationship with my own father and would defend him to the end, also, which would be expected of any child and their parent, even if their parent is doing, at best, sketchy things.

But where Hunter crossed the line is when he put in his tirade, “I want to thank the “editor-in-chief” for writing this as an opinion piece, for that is exactly what coverage of the City council has been in recent months; simple opinion.”

Well, Hunter, that statement is simply not factual; it was a libelous comment, or in layman’s terms, an untrue, written statement.

I have gone to great lengths to prove the accuracy of the City Council meetings stories I have written. STORIES are non-opinion pieces; I actually go to the event or meeting and cover everything that is said by recording it. As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, I then go home or back to the office and listen to the recordings and type out everything that was said. There’s nothing to make up, there’s no opinion. Because members of the City Council were getting upset at my STORIES of their meetings, they began circulating that my STORIES were not factual; so I took one other staff member to the next meeting. The following meeting, I took two staff members. The meeting after that, there were five members of a six member staff there. The reason? We all heard the same thing. I recorded the meetings. I wrote the STORIES, then I let my staff read the STORIES. And they all agree- I’ve documented everything exactly as it has happened in the meetings. Many of the more recent meetings had dozens of local residents there to witness what was said and none of them have called and complained to tell me that something I reported about the meeting they were at was inaccurate. Why is that? Because they witnessed the same thing I did.

Hunter has never been to any of the recent City Council meetings to my knowledge; he doesn’t even live in the state of Georgia from what I understand. He’s never requested any of my recordings to listen to. He can express his disappointment in my COLUMN, and defend his dad, but he can never say my STORIES are untrue or based on opinion, because they are not.

There was another person I banned from Facebook for the very same reason last week, a former Calhoun resident by the name of Tim Poarch. Mr. Poarch said something along the lines that he knows the City Council and that I wasn’t reporting it accurately. Well, Mr. Poarch is an out of state resident, also. He’s a former Calhoun Police Department employee that we covered in our paper in November 2010; you can Google it to find out all of the details.

And they are not the only people I’ve ever banned; I’ve banned dozens of people in my time here.

These two gentlemen, upset that they were banned from our page, visited one of those “My City is the Greatest” Facebook gossip pages that I am NOT a part of and trashed me; and that’s okay. What they don’t understand is, they can do that and tag me and tag the Calhoun Times and tag the Rome News Tribune and post my photo all day long. I went to bed that night, and every night since, just as I always do: on a fluffy pillow in a nice warm bed and enjoyed a nice long sleep.

So, as “Editor-in-Chief,” I invite anyone to visit our Facebook page and criticize and comment all they want, but follow the rules, or you will be banned. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go fix those typos on Facebook.

Brandi Moorehead Owczarz is the managing editor of the Calhoun Times and has extremely thick skin; none of this has bothered her in any way, but it has bothered some of her staff. You can email her at bowczarz@calhountimes.com or find her on Facebook at facebook.com/brandi.owczarz.