This is the first opportunity I have had to speak with you directly. Traditionally, editors do not write columns — we write the editorials that appear to the left of this piece. First, I want to thank each and every one of you for purchasing our newspaper. The reason we are here is to provide you with quality, accurate information. We take that mission very seriously.

I am approaching one year on the job here at the Commercial, and I have enjoyed every moment of it. I am originally from Pine Bluff, so coming back to my hometown has meant the world to me.

I'd like to take a moment to address some issues regarding the newspaper industry. As many of you know, our industry has shrunk over the years due to the rise in online news organizations and social media. As I look out into our newsroom currently, there are many empty desks.

This newspaper once had dozens of reporters, copy editors, page design specialists and other workers buzzing around the building to create the daily newspaper. That's not the case anymore. There are six of us in the newsroom, including yours truly.

That said, our time is very taxed, what with daily deadlines and a constant cycle of news. Other newspapers our size are no different. So there will be times when mistakes happen. Any newspaper editor will tell you that there is no such thing as a completely error-free newspaper. There will always be a misplaced comma or some other such grammar faux pas. And, sometimes, there are much bigger mistakes, such as the one that appeared in Wednesday's Commercial.

I own that mistake. It's mine, and believe me, I beat myself up over it. An article regarding charges filed against the Pine Bluff Animal Control Director, Hodges Stewart, inadvertently transposed the name of Stewart and Pine Bluff Police Lt. Mike Jenkins in one reference. Jenkins has been appointed to take Stewart's place.

What bothers me is that some of our readers think that these mistakes happen because we don't know any better. I can assure you that isn't the case. When dealing with hundreds of thousands of words each day, some mistakes are bound to happen. That's no excuse, however. I want each and every one of you to know that my staff and I are working tirelessly to bring you the best product that we can.

Any errors we make are due to long hours and a short staff, not ignorance. Ask any newspaper editor with a small staff, and they will tell you the same thing. Those same editors will also tell you that they strive for excellence, just as we do here.

I believe we have made great strides over the past year in providing a quality product for our readers. I just ask that readers understand that when there are mistakes, they are not there because we are ignorant or “don't know how to spell.”

In our newsroom, we have a combined 60-plus years of journalism experience. We also own up to our mistakes, as any good newspaper should do.

Back in the good old days, there were banks of copy editors eager to proof pages and text before they went on the page. Those workers are now long gone. It's up to the reporters and myself to ensure that all of the copy is error-free. We are human, so mistakes happen.

In closing, I want each and every one of you to know this: I take errors very seriously, I correct them, and I am striving to erase them all together. So if you see a mistake in the paper, please e-mail me at I will be happy to take care of it. Moving forward, we believe great things are ahead for the Commercial. Thanks again for reading.