Hello, readers!

I wanted to take a moment in the birth of this new and exciting endeavor to share a little bit about The County Gin.

‘I believe that there is something particularly special about local journalism … each name has a face and I, too, am a member of the community I serve.’

As many of you may already know, my name is Jessica Hartman and I am the publisher and founder. I have dedicated years of my professional life to the local area, serving as advertising manager at The Wharton Journal-Spectator and for The City of Wharton, among other positions.

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I am also the founder of the Facebook group “Wharton, Texas Chat” — a place where we can come together and share ideas, opinions and more online.

While also employed within the city, I have lead and served along side many of the community’s leaders and public officials through volunteerism in humanitarian organizations and serving on many of Wharton’s boards.

With each experience, I have held steadfast to the belief that our local community matters and have dedicated my time to improving the lives of its citizens with every endeavor.


‘The foremost priority of The County Gin will be to report truthful, timely news, as well as in-depth examinations of complex issues within local governments, law enforcement, education, organizations and communities that affect life in Wharton County in an effort to create a more well-informed community.’

How The County Gin came to be is a story of a woman driven by passion and determination, a wealth of experience, as well as daring tenacity and unflinching grit. Its inception is a tale of the pursuit to uphold the duties of local news media to its community.

With more than a decade serving in various capacities in the news industry, I spent years feeling weary and undervalued by the grind of embittered indifference.

With each edition churned out, with every fresh idea shot down, I was dismissed in the name of, “This is the way it has always been done.”

Yet, I saw that the old way was no longer working. In a time of “fake news,” it is no secret that doubt is cast upon media these days for lack of trust.

Questions kept playing through my mind. “Why? How did news organizations come to this point? How can I fix it and earn your trust back?”

In today’s media climate, news can be a tough business, but I believe that there is something particularly special about local journalism. It is more intimate than what you may read in national papers or see on TV; each name has a face and I, too, am a member of the community I serve.

If given the chance, I thought, I would produce and deliver fresh local news that matters to a community that is equally underserved and undervalued by existing media.

‘Then, “I think I could do this,” turned into, “Let’s do this!” I stopped the “what-ifs” and stopped apologizing to myself.’

I could earn that trust back again.

Conversation after conversation about what news should be continued to build an overwhelming need to hold myself accountable to my convictions. As I received feedback from community members, confidence blossomed within.

Then, “I think I could do this,” turned into, “Let’s do this!”

I stopped the “what-ifs” and stopped apologizing to myself.

Thus, The County Gin was created.

As publisher, I would not only like to welcome you to the site, but also to The Gin’s movement ─ to create a more well-informed community.

The organization is dedicated to its mission and guided by the following principles:

  1. The foremost priority of The County Gin will be to report truthful, timely news, as well as in-depth examinations of complex issues within local governments, law enforcement, education, organizations and communities that affect life in Wharton County in an effort to create a more well-informed community.
  2. The County Gin will publish factual information relevant to readers regardless of age, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious or political affiliation.
  3. In the pursuit of the truth, the publication will never be the ally of special interests nor to the private interests of its owners; rather, its duty is to be fair, free, engaging and encompassing in its reporting on public affairs and how they affect the community at large.
  4. The County Gin will remain a digitally-published news source to provide ease of access and research to its readers right in the palm of their hand, as well as reducing the publication’s carbon footprint.
    The goal is to exceed your expectations when it comes to reporting on events and issues — both the good and the bad. It is my promise to uphold truth.

So, welcome to The County Gin ─ a fresh, new media organization for Wharton County, and surrounding areas. News updates and uploads can be found on our website at www.thecountygin.com, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the handle @thecountygin.

Finally, I hope you will reach out to say hello. We recognize that The County Gin cannot exist without your support and engagement. I am excited to learn what you, the readers, care most about as we begin this exciting journey to tell the stories of our community.

For more information or to contact Jessica Hartman or Natalie Frels-Busby, please visit thecountygin.com/meet-the-staff.

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