Tag Archives: A-J Media

West Texas journalism takes a jaw-dropping plunge

I am just now picking my jaw off the floor.

A friend of mine has just informed me of something that GateHouse Media, the new owners of the Amarillo Globe-News and the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, have done. It has posted a job opening for a “regional associate editor” who will be in charge of the opinion pages of both newspapers.

Ponder that for a moment.

The G-N and the A-J already have a “regional” publisher and a “regional” executive editor. The publisher resides in Lubbock; the exec editor lives in Amarillo. They spend time in the “other” city, I guess to make sure they’re “in touch” with them.

Now we have this idiotic notion of hiring someone who will serve as a regional “director of commentary.”

GateHouse purchased the papers from Morris Communications while promising to maintain a local journalistic presence, committing itself to local news.

What absolute and utter crap!

This latest decision by GateHouse tells me something quite different. GateHouse is trying to run the papers on the cheap. Why hire two people for these executive posts when they get can away with hiring one individual to cover both of them?

Oh, but what’s the cost? It’s plenty! I’ll speak to the commentary that both papers will deliver to these respective communities.

GateHouse seems to presume that Amarillo and Lubbock are identical. That they have identical needs and concerns. That their local issues mirror each other.

Good grief! They do not! How in the world does a regional director of commentary acquaint himself or herself fully with each community by having to split the time between them? He or she cannot do the impossible! GateHouse, though, is asking whoever they hire to do precisely that.

I worked as editorial page editor of the Globe-News for nearly 18 years. It was all I could do to stay current with issues involving Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle. To ask the new person to develop cogent editorial policy for two disparate communities 120 miles apart is a prescription for the destruction of both communities’ editorial voice.

In the old days, that voice was a critical component of daily journalism’s relevance to the needs of a community.

I believe I am hearing the death knell of daily journalism as we’ve known it in a part of the state I grew to love.

Not a museum, but it’s a step toward preserving history

The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum administrators might have read my blog, or they might have been thinking about it already.

I’ll go with the latter, out of a sense of humility.

The Amarillo Globe-News has revealed that the PPHM along with Amarillo National Bank are joining hands in an effort to preserve the newspaper’s archived text for posterity.

This is good news for those of us who loved the G-N, who loved working there (as I did for nearly 18 years) and who cherish the history that was recorded by the once-towering presence in Amarillo and the High Plains region of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and New Mexico.

The PPHM will store the bound volumes and microfiche at a site away from the G-N’s former offices at Ninth Avenue and Harrison Street. The G-N recently vacated that site for new office space in the 31-story bank tower that soon will carry the name of FirstBank Southwest.

I had pitched the idea of converting the Ninth and Harrison building into a museum that would display the history of the newspaper. I get that the cost could be prohibitive to do such a thing.

But at the very least the newspaper’s new owners, GateHouse Media, have worked out an agreement with PPHM and ANB to store the archived material suitably.

As I understand it, the bound volumes and the microfiche have been moved to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal operation 120 miles south of Amarillo. PPHM will locate an estimated 150 file cabinets full of clippings, photos and photo negatives to the downtown Amarillo site.

That’s a start. Perhaps it will lead to something even more grand … such as a museum! I won’t hold my breath.

For now, though, I’ll just applaud to decision to maintain the history that the award-winning newspaper recorded while chronicling the evolution of the region it once served with pride and distinction.

Media landscape changing all around us

No matter how you slice it, dice it, puree it — whatever — the media landscape is a-changin’.

Even here in the relatively staid Texas Panhandle, where the announcement came out today that the one-time newspaper of record for the region, the Amarillo Globe-News, no longer will print its editions here. It will outsource that task to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, another property owned by the parent company that owns both newspapers.

None of this is unique to the Panhandle. The question of the day is: What’s coming next?

I remain concerned about the deadlines for late-breaking news. The printed newspaper won’t contain news that breaks shortly after suppertime. But, hey, readers can catch up with the news on the paper’s online edition — if they subscribe to the printed newspaper.

Print journalism is trying to make the transition from its old form to something new. The Digital Age has arrived. Some papers are doing a better job of making that switch from one form of delivery to another. Others are struggling with it.

The biggest hang-up is making money on the digital edition. I’m not privy to ad sales techniques, so I cannot comment intelligently on how newspapers in general — and the Globe-News in particular — sell the online edition to advertisers.

I’ve heard some anecdotal evidence, though, that suggests the printed newspaper continues to outpace the digital version by a huge margin in terms of revenue generated.

So, good luck with the transition.

I don’t have any particular loyalty any longer to the people who run my local newspaper. I left daily print journalism under unhappy circumstances. My loyalty remains, though, with my friends who continue to work there.

I hope they’re strong and they can persevere through this trauma. Take my word for it, many of them are being traumatized by what they cannot predict will happen in the near or distant future.