Tag Archives: AGN Media

R.I.P., Dr. Krauthammer

It didn’t take long after all.

Charles Krauthammer, the noted newspaper columnist and commentator for Fox News, announced on June 8 that he only had “weeks to live” after receiving a grim prognosis on his valiant battle against cancer.

Today, Fox announced that Krauthammer lost his fight. He died at age 68 of abdominal cancer. I am saddened in the extreme to hear this news.

Dr. Krauthammer was a Renaissance man in the purest sense. He obtained a medical degree from Harvard University and was a practicing psychiatrist when he decided to enter politics. He went to work in the Carter administration, where he wrote speeches for Vice President Walter Mondale.

Then he gravitated toward journalism. His ideology drifted to the right and he became one of the nation’s premier conservative columnists. He wrote with precision and clarity. Dr. Krauthammer signed on with The Washington Post — and then was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for the commentary he wrote for the newspaper.

I was proud to run his column in the Amarillo Globe-News for all the years I worked at the newspaper. I’ve noted already that although I didn’t subscribe to his world view, I recognize great writing and clear thinking when I see it. Dr. Krauthammer provided both with his commentary — and I always enjoyed reading his work, thinking often at the time, “Damn! I wish I could write like that.”

American journalism has lost a significant voice. Charles Krauthammer was one of the great ones.

Open borders? How does the EU survive with them?

A social media friend of mine made an interesting point about an editorial that appeared in today’s Amarillo (Texas) Globe-News; thus, I won’t take credit for this observation, but merely want to flesh it out just a bit.

He said the editorial, which commented on the heated national discussion about separating children from their parents who seek illegal entry into the United States, brought up the “open border” canard that conservatives often cite when seeking stricter immigration policies.

My friend writes, in part: Open borders are in use in several countries of the EU, where citizens of one country can freely enter another country.

We don’t have an “open border” with Mexico or Canada these days; 9/11 ended that policy.

But as my friend noted, the European Union does have open borders between several of its member nations.

In September 2016, my wife and I traveled to Germany. We spent several days in Nuremberg visiting friends. We had planned to take the train to Amsterdam, The Netherlands, to visit more friends.

We purchased our train tickets in Nuremberg, boarded the train and rode for six hours to Amsterdam. We crossed from one EU country into another. We got off the train, met our friend, who then took his to his home, where we spent a few days visiting him and his wife and small daughter.

When our trip to The Netherlands ended, we went back to the train station in Amsterdam, boarded the train and went back to Nuremberg. Our return trip had a slightly different wrinkle: We changed trains in Hannover, Germany to connect to Nuremberg.

At no point did anyone in authority — German or Dutch — ask for our passports; no one asked us a single question about why we were traveling aboard the train; no one inquired about our nationality.

Do we want that kind of openness between the United States and the two nations that border us north and south? No. But this hysteria we’re hearing about “open borders” — particularly where it concerns our southern boundary — should remind us that our borders are not nearly as open as they are in much of Europe.

No doubt about it: U.S. is ‘secular nation’

An interesting argument has surfaced over the discussion about the use of Scripture to justify the separating of children from their parents as they enter the United States illegally.

It comes from the newspaper where I used to work, the Amarillo (Texas) Globe-News.

Here’s the editorial with the title, “The Spiritual Double Standard.” 

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently cited Romans 13 to justify the policy of yanking kids from their parents along our southern border and housing them separately. It also seems to suggest that the United States might not be a “secular nation.”

Actually, the United States most certainly is a secular nation. Of that there can be no serious debate.

The founders intended to craft a governing document that is free of religious requirements. Their ancestors came to this world fleeing religious persecution. Right? Yes!

The editorial seems also to suggest that critics of the AG are targeting Christians. Hmm. I don’t believe that’s the case. The founders didn’t even mention Christianity in crafting the U.S. Constitution. The Amarillo Globe-News opined: This is becoming a common tactic of many of those who support open borders – attempting to shame Christians by pointing out how federal immigration laws are not in line with Christian teachings about how to treat your neighbors, immigrants, etc.

The secular nature of our government is not aimed at Christians. It excludes any religious litmus test for government. Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus … you name it.

The G-N also suggests that secularists shouldn’t use Scripture to debunk the AG’s citing of the New Testament to justify the policy.

Fine, except that if the attorney general is going to bring it up first, then it is totally fair for critics to use the Bible to rebut what they believe is his misdirected justification.

The G-N notes, “As the saying goes, you can’t have it both ways.”

Actually, in this instance, I believe you can.

St. Anthony’s Hospital campus might get new life

As much progress that has occurred in Amarillo, Texas, in recent years, there remains much work to do to restore, revive and rejuvenate historic landmarks.

To that end, a former hospital campus on Amarillo Boulevard and Polk Street just might become the next big triumph in the city’s long-term redevelopment strategy.

Or … it might not. I will hope for the best.

A newly formed non-profit group has taken possession of the old St. Anthony ‘s Hospital complex. The hospital closed many years ago when St. Anthony’s merged with High Plains Baptist Hospital to create Baptist-St. Anthony’s Hospital in the midst of the city’s growing medical complex along Coulter Street in far west Amarillo.

It has fallen, dare I say it, into serious disrepair. I got a first-hand look at it just a couple of years ago while writing a feature story for KFDA NewsChannel 10’s website. The then-owner walked us through the campus and, to point it candidly, it wasn’t a pretty sight. The place is crumbling.

The non-profit organization, St. Anthony’s Legacy and Redevelopment Corp., is led by Mary Emeny, who comes from a family with a long history of commitment and dedication to the community. Emeny issued a statement that declared, in part, “It is a privilege to begin the work of bringing new opportunities and resources to the surrounding communities through this iconic property.”

That statement might need a bit of translation, given the rather broad and nebulous nature of its content. Emeny’s organization hasn’t yet revealed any details of what it intends for the old campus, or how it proposes to pay for whatever it will do.

I have known Mary Emeny for a number of years and I fully understand and appreciate her love of Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle. I am never going to doubt her ability to achieve whatever she seeks to do.

The Amarillo Globe-News named her its Woman of the Year some years back. I do not believe her energy and her commitment have abated one bit.

I wish my friend well. That old campus needs a lot of work. I have faith Mary Emeny will deliver the goods.

Patience will be stressed

I guess I am somewhat liberated these days. I can speak about all the road work ongoing in Amarillo, Texas, even though I spend most of my time in our new home in Fairview, just north of Dallas.

I happen to agree with a letter to the editor published in the Amarillo Globe-News about the need for patience as the city and the state repair roads, bridges and highways seemingly in every corner of the city.

“Let us all relax, be patient, and this too shall pass – just not in the construction no-passing zone, please,” writes Alan Tinsley, an Amarillo resident.

Check out Tinsley’s letter here.

I’ve sought to counsel the same thing for years. I will admit that my own patience has been tested at times as I drive through Amarillo.

But I do try to keep some things in perspective. After all, it could be a whole lot worse than waiting to get through an intersection that’s being rebuilt. We could be recovering from devastating floods or heavy wind; our health could go south on us in a flash.

As my wife and I return to Amarillo on occasion, we’ll get to experience the progress as it develops without experiencing some of the hassles of navigating through the work in progress.

To my friends and neighbors in the Panhandle, just keep in mind: There’s an end to it. You will like the finished product.

More pain gets inflicted in the media

Oh, the hits just keep coming.

The San Antonio Express-News — the newspaper of record for Texas’s second-largest city — has announced another round of layoffs. It doesn’t stop. The reductions are costing communities the services of valuable craftsmen and women with decades of experience reporting on the issues of the day.

When will it end? Ever? Well, it has to end, likely when the last reporter checks out for the final time. Will he or she please be sure to turn out the lights?

The Internet is the culprit. The villain. The bogeyman.

It has spawned a whole new array of “news and information” outlets. Cable news has joined the fray. Righties have their own view of the “truth,” as do the lefties. They hunker down and consume only the “information” that comports with their world view.

It sickens and saddens me at the same time.

I once was a victim of the changing climate. I was told during a company “reorganization” that I no longer would do what I had done at the Amarillo Globe-News for nearly 18 years. I wrote editorials and columns for the paper. The publisher at the time decided to reshuffle the deck. After interviewing for my own job, I got the news: We’ve offered it to someone else and he has accepted.

I quit on the spot.

Not long after I left the G-N in the summer of 2012, I scored an interview with the Express-News. The editorial page editor flew me to San Antonio, where I spent the day talking to him, the paper’s publisher and the EPE’s editorial page staff members.

The fellow with whom I interviewed made quite a point of telling me how the Hearst Corp. was reinvesting in the Express-News, restoring positions that had been cut. Times were good in the Alamo City, he said.

I didn’t get the gig. The paper was “going in another direction,” the e-mail message told me.

It’s all good now.

I want to re-share with you a quick story. I was at my post at the Amarillo newspaper. A gentleman called about a letter he had submitted. I chose not to publish it. Why? It was full of falsehoods.

His response was classic. “I know it’s true,” he said. I asked, “How do you know that?” He said, “Because I saw it on the Internet.”

I laughed out loud into the phone.

It’s a brand new, and damn scary, world out there.

Gerrymandering: sometimes it works!

A blog item I just posted reminded me of one of the few regrets I collected while serving as a journalist for nearly four decades.

I remembered a C-SPAN segment I was honored to do regarding the former 19th Congressional District representative, Republican Larry Combest and the sprawling district he was elected to represent in 1984.

My regret? I didn’t resist my boss’s dogged insistence that Amarillo be “made whole” by the Texas Legislature. You see, the Democrats who controlled the 1991 Legislature split Amarillo into two congressional districts during its once-a-decade redistricting ritual. The idea was to peel off Democratic voters in Potter County to protect the Democratic incumbent, Rep. Bill Sarpalius.

The Amarillo Globe-News went ballistic over that arrangement. It hated the notion of the city being split into two districts, represented by a Democrat, the other by a Republican.

Sarpalius got re-elected in 1992. Then something happened in 1994 that no one foresaw when the Legislature gerrymandered the city’s representation: Sarpalius lost to Republican Mac Thornberry, who happened to be Combest’s former chief of staff.

Do you know what that meant? It meant Amarillo would have two members of Congress from the same political party — which now controlled Congress — representing its interests.

I arrived at my post at the Globe-News in January 1995, the same week Thornberry took office.

But still the newspaper insisted on redrawing the lines and putting Amarillo into a single congressional district. I went along with the publisher’s insistence on that change. For the life me as I look back on that time, I must’ve had rocks in my head for not arguing against it.

Thornberry and Combest comprised a sort of one-two punch for Amarillo. Thornberry’s district covered Potter County, Combest’s included Randall County. I get the difficulty when two House members from opposing parties were representing the city. But after the 1994 election that all changed.

Did the two GOP House members always vote the way I preferred? No. That’s not the point. My point is that our city could depend on two elected members of Congress doing our community’s bidding when the moments presented themselves.

Eventually, the Legislature did as we kept insisting they do. They redrew the boundaries and put the 19th District much farther south and put all of Amarillo into the 13th.

Combest resigned from the House in 2002. Thornberry is still in office. I’m trying to assess what actual, tangible benefit Thornberry has brought to the city all these years later.

Well, you know what they say about hindsight. It all looks clearer looking back than it does in the moment.

What will become of ‘newspapers’?

I feel the need to put the word “newspapers” in quote marks because of a trend I am sensing.

It is that “newspapers” as we have known them — and some of us have revered them — are on their last legs. At least that is my sense.

Friends ask me all the time, even though I’ve been out of the full-time newspaper game for nearly six years, what I project for the craft I pursued for nearly four decades.

The term “newspaper” will become obsolete. Media organizations are going to have to come up with a new name for their method of distributing information and reporting on the news of the day. As a matter of fact, many newspapers no longer refer to the place where reporters and editors work as “newsrooms”; they call them “information centers,” or terms such as that. News “copy” is now called “content,” and newspapers themselves are now referred to as “the product.”

When will this occur? I don’t know. I fear the pace of that day’s arrival might be accelerating. The Salt Lake Tribune recently announced widespread layoffs; it is just the latest major metropolitan daily newspaper to scale back its work force in the face of plummeting circulation and advertising revenue.

So many others have gone through it.

The Amarillo Globe-News is one of them. I worked there for nearly 18 years. Then I quit in August 2012 in the midst of a company “reorganization.” Just this past year, the paper quit printing its daily editions in Amarillo; it’s being done in Lubbock, at the presses of another newspaper under the same corporate ownership.

Then in October of this past year, Morris Communications sold its entire chain of newspapers to GateHouse Media. The consolidation has continued, with the Lubbock and Amarillo newspapers operating under a single senior management team: a regional publisher and editor, both of who split their time between Amarillo and Lubbock.

Do you see a trend here? I don’t know where this will all end. I probably shouldn’t even care — but I do, having devoted my entire professional career to newspapers as we all knew them, grew up with them, loved them and hated them.

I will mourn the day they disappear.

Pain continues in newspaper industry

My heart sank again this week when I learned of the huge layoffs at the Salt Lake Tribune, once known as one of the nation’s better newspapers.

The paper released roughly a third of its newsroom staff. Many of those who were let go are among the best journalists in Utah.

Is any of this new? Sadly, no. It is happening across the country. Major metro papers are feeling the pain, along with mid-size papers and the mom/pop shops.

The culprit? The Internet!

The solution? It’s harder to identify.

Media outlets, namely newspapers, are continuing to struggle to find a business model that fits in this new Information Age … or maybe I should call it the “Disinformation Age.”

The Salt Lake Tribune is suffering from plummeting revenue as readers no longer subscribe the printed paper and advertisers look for other outlets to hawk their wares.

This sickens me.

I came of age professionally at a time when newspapers attracted young Americans who wanted to do good things. They wanted to make a difference in their communities. I admit to being smitten in the early 1970s by the reporting performed in Washington, D.C., although I had begun my college studies before Watergate and the fallout it produced.

There’s no intent to disparage the quality of the reporting being done now, today, as it regards what is happening in D.C. Newspapers are continuing to report and they’re continuing to fulfill their mission.

Since newspapers and other media are for-profit organizations, they need to make money to survive. If readers stop reading, and advertisers stop advertising, then it follows naturally that newspapers are going to struggle.

That story is unfolding in Salt Lake City and in communities across the land. It’s happening in Portland, where I grew up reading a newspaper that achieved the greatness to which its publisher and editors aspired. It’s damn sure happening in Beaumont and Amarillo, Texas, where I toiled for three decades; both cities’ newspapers are decimated shells of their former selves.

Newspaper owners, I am saddened to say, have yet to adapt to the changing business climate that has stripped them of their livelihood.

There will be more sad stories to tell.

Feds have no say in marriage? Um, yes, they do!

The issue of marriage came up as a side issue in an editorial published by a Texas newspaper. I feel the need to set the record straight about what rights the federal government has in determining marriage.

The Amarillo Globe-News said this, among other things, in discussing states’ rights on sports betting and a recent Supreme Court ruling on that subject: The federal government has no right to define marriage in any way, shape or form. Yet the U.S. Supreme Court sees fit to define marriage for the entire nation. Again – no state’s rights here.

The AGN is seeking to ascertain where states’ rights are relevant and where federal authority supersedes them.

Read the editorial here.

Back to the point: The Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that the U.S. Constitution — the document that governs the entire nation — has a clause that requires all citizens to have “equal protection under the law.” That was the basis of its ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 our states.

This isn’t a deeply held secret ruling concocted in some star chamber by a majority of the Supreme Court justices. The law is clear. Marriage becomes a federal issue if someone chooses to seek a legal remedy that they believe violates one of the key provisions of the Constitution.

Equal protection is such a key provision. Thus, when a segment of our population is denied the right to marry whoever they love, then the federal judiciary has an obligation to set the record straight.

States have no right, therefore, under the federal Constitution, to deny any American their guarantee of equal protection under the law.

Are we clear now? Good!