I am not the least bit crazy about critiquing the newspaper where my career ended.
However, I’m going to bite down hard and offer this brief observation about how the newspaper is surrendering its relevance to local readers.
The Amarillo Globe-News is going through a transition at this moment. It has turned the lights out at the building where it was headquartered for decades and has moved into the 31-story bank tower that dominates the downtown Amarillo, Texas, skyline.
The Globe-News physical presence has been absorbed into another corporate entity.
But it’s also doing something else I find totally repugnant. Its editorial page has been co-opted by “canned editorials” that the paper’s publishers are printing in the space that used to be the domain of the newspaper’s locally driven editorial policy.
The paper’s director of commentary, David R. Henry, has left the paper to work for Amarillo City Hall. The newspaper had ceased commenting on exclusively local issues for some time prior to the director of commentary’s departure. Now, though, it is running editorials that (a) reflect the corporate ownership’s conservative editorial philosophy and (b) have not a damn thing to do with issues relevant to Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle.
My hope is that GateHouse Media, the paper’s new owners, wise up to the need to restore the paper’s local relevance on its editorial page. Given that I know not a thing about GateHouse, my hope must stand on its own.
A couple of years before I left the paper, I embarked on a policy to localize the paper’s editorial policy. I actually kept a log of editorial topics published daily. My goal was to concentrate on local/regional issues; state issues became No. 2 on our priority list. My thought, which I shared with the publisher (when we still had a relationship), was that readers didn’t really care what we thought about national or international issues. They were getting their fill of others’ perspective on Obamacare, taxes, world peace and climate change. They could turn only to the Globe-News for commentary on issues close to home.
We sought to deliver that message to them. We were successful in that effort.
I recall a couple of months when we published only local/regional editorials for the entire month. The publisher said he was pleased with that result.
Then I got “reorganized” out of my job. I resigned from the Globe-News and the editorial policy we had pursued gave way to another editorial strategy. Fine. That was their call.
Now, though, the Globe-News’s editorial policy reflects, well, no interest in what’s happening locally.
It’s a shame. However, it can be corrected. I hope the correction occurs soon.