We're not the chamber of commerce or the CVB.

Last week, The News-Journal's editorial board and other staff met with officials from the Convention and Visitors Bureau to discuss two stories and an editorial we published about the publicly funded agency's new advertising slogan for the area: "Wide Open Fun." 

After The News-Journal published an initial story about the slogan and posted it on Facebook, readers weighed in with hundreds of negative comments. We wrote a story about the response, and followed it with an editorial that suggested the CVB might want to reconsider "Wide Open Fun." We suggested the agency hold a contest in which local citizens could offer slogan ideas.

When CVB Executive Director Lori Campbell Baker and other staff visited, they spent much of the meeting explaining the process they went through to select "Wide Open Fun," including focus groups in other cities that liked the slogan. They also explained how the slogan will be used. Baker has written a column on today's Perspective page that goes into more detail.

During the meeting, we also meandered into other news coverage issues. Specifically, Baker suggested tourism efforts in the area aren't helped by coverage of topics and activities that she perceives as negative. I thought Publisher Bill Offill explained The News-Journal's role pretty succinctly: We're not the chamber of commerce or the CVB; we're the newspaper. Our job is to cover news.

Which brings me to the topic of the homeless.

The day after we met with CVB officials, The News-Journal published an excellent enterprise story by reporter Eileen Zafirro-Kean about the significant increase in the number of people who are begging for cash on Daytona Beach street corners. All of the beggars Zaffiro-Kean interviewed identified themselves as homeless. Zafirro-Kean also spoke with officials who said the increase is a result of the city not trying to stop the begging because recent court cases have found that panhandling is a First Amendment right.

I'm all for the First Amendment. At the same time, beggars at Daytona Beach's busiest intersections don't exactly present the image we would like for tourists or local citizens.

But wait, there's more.

A Zaffiro-Kean story on the front page of today's print edition chronicles yet-another possible delay in the construction of a shelter for the homeless.

After years of debate, Daytona Beach, Volusia County, and other municipalities agreed in June on a plan to construct a homeless shelter on city land west of Interstate 95. The county agreed to pony up $2.5 million to cover construction, as well as $400,000 for five years to help cover operating costs. Daytona Beach has also committed $400,000 a year for the shelter, which will provide other services beyond temporary shelter to the homeless, hopefully leading to some of them getting permanently off the streets. The city is overseeing construction of the shelter, with input from the city-formed First Step Shelter Board.

When the County Council approved funding, it was with the understanding that the shelter might be open by the end of this year. But in August the First Step board announced that schedule was too ambitious, and pushed the opening to the first quarter of 2018.

Then, in October, the schedule was pushed back possibly to late summer 2018.

And then, in a meeting Nov. 21, the project's architect told the First Step board the shelter may not be completed until fall 2019 — at least 20 months later than originally promised.

Some might well perceive The News-Journal's coverage of beggars on street corners or a homeless shelter way behind schedule as negative news. I disagree. Reporting on such subjects is essential to our mission as a newspaper.

If we don't independently report on such critical issues, who will? The government? Tourism officials?

I'll also point out that we don't just report news. We comment on it, and we search for solutions to problems.

To that end, The News-Journal hopes to hold a public town hall meeting soon, at which we'll invite officials involved in constructing the homeless shelter to provide an update on progress. It will also be an opportunity for citizens to ask questions.

Look for specific details about the town hall meeting in The News-Journal this coming week. And thanks as always for reading.

Rice is The News-Journal’s editor. His email is Pat.Rice@news-jrnl.com.