If you watch WTLV-WJXX First Coast News in Jacksonville, you are used to hearing St Augustine and St Johns County news from their Southern Bureau reporter, Jessica Clark.
After graduation from the University of Florida, Clark worked in Dothan, Alabama, Columbus, Georgia, and in Ft. Myers. She has been reporting and anchoring since 1997. In 2005, she began work at WTLV-WJXX; where, except for a year’s hiatus to work for a local web startup, she has been anchor-reporter.
But, Monday evening, the news was about Clark. City Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline, acting alone, made a request that Clark receive a “Certificate of Appreciation”.
The sentiment reads, “In appreciation of your hard work and dedication in promoting the history and significance of the City of St Augustine during the 450th Anniversary celebration.”
The certificate of appreciation is a formal “thank you” and, according to St Augustine City Clerk, Darlene Galambos, is often given outside of meetings. Certificates are not typically noticed because, unlike proclamations, they do not require consensus or approval and are not an official act of the City or Commission.
Without offering an opinion on the value of Clark’s reporting, several Historic City News readers asked that we look further into the rather unusual timing of the “thank you” — especially since all the 450th recognitions were made in September, October, and November of last year.
What about the other members of a press corps that spanned every major network, local and area radio broadcasters, monthly, weekly and daily news reporters? Do none of them deserve recognition?
Also, we found it was very unusual that an individual commissioner would recognize a news reporter. In fact, a diligent search revealed that only one other time has it been done during a meeting. That was a recognition of Margo Pope — on the occasion of her retirement.
Of course Jessica is not retired, and Commissioner Sikes-Kline has been trying to raise her profile, apparently unable or unwilling to hire a professional. According to a public post on a facebook page Sikes-Kline created on November 5, 2015, she seems to apologize for the amateur appearance of her page.
She wrote, “Thank you for visiting my community Facebook page! I don’t use a public relations or marketing service to manage this page, I do it myself. So feel free to ask questions and I’ll do my best to respond in a timely manner! Nancy Sikes-Kline.” Maybe she’s planning on some favorable political press from the Gannett superstar?