I no longer have many friends left at the Amarillo Globe-News, where I worked for nearly 18 years. They’ve all gone on to, um, “pursue other interests,” retired or have been laid off as the newspaper industry continues to struggle in this new media environment.
Here, though, is what I have heard … and I believe this is firm: The newspaper is going to vacate its remaining structure at the corner of Ninth Avenue and Harrison Street, a building it has occupied since 1950. The newspaper will set up its offices in that 31-story bank building formerly known as the Chase Tower, but which will be known soon as the FirstBank Southwest Tower.
This is a profoundly sad development.
Since the early 20th century, the Amarillo Globe-News has been a physical presence in Amarillo and, by association, in the Texas Panhandle. The newspaper reported on community affairs as far away as Dalhart, Perryton, Plainview and Dimmitt. It has retrenched.
The paper even had a presence in Oklahoma Panhandle communities, such as Guymon, Boise City, Woodward. It sold a few copies daily in Liberal, Kan., too, along with running a news bureau out of Clovis, N.M.
It has slashed its physical presence. Its footprint is a lot less visible.
Now the newspaper that once won a Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service is going to be absorbed by another corporate identity.
Those of us who grew up revering newspapers, who practiced the craft of print journalism, who once were associated with media organizations that everyone in the community knew about — even if they didn’t necessarily embrace it — should be saddened by this impending turn of events.
The Harrison Street Building has an inscription over its front door. It says that a “newspaper can be forgiven for lack of wisdom, but not for lack of courage.” It came from the late Gene Howe, the publisher of the Amarillo Globe-Times, the one-time evening newspaper.
They were words to live by if you sought to tell the community’s story to readers who wanted to know about it. The words won’t disappear even after what is left of the Globe-News’s staff leaves that old building for the final time; I trust they’ll continue to appear on the newspaper’s Opinion page masthead.
However, there is something profoundly sad about a newspaper that lacks a physical presence in the community it serves. I get that it will still be there, somewhere, hidden on some upper floor of a skyscraper that will carry another company’s name.
It will not be the same.