Tag Archives: community journalism

Hereford Brand gets new life! How about that?

If there’s a media god in heaven somewhere, he or she is smiling down on the Texas Panhandle journalism community at this moment.

Jeff and Angela Blackmon have stepped forward to take over the daily operation of the Hereford Brand, a small community publication that was slated for the scrap heap effective today.

It ain’t happening. The Brand is still alive and presumably kicking.

This is happy news. I hope it is cause for long-term happiness among those who want community journalism to survive and one should hope flourish in this changing media climate.

The Brand’s former owners announced this past weekend that they planned to shutter the 118-year-old publication. Its final day was supposed to be today. Jeff Blackmon, who I understand is the former sports editor of the newspaper, and his wife stepped up. The news story I saw this morning said they will honor all the paper’s advertising and circulation commitments.

I presume they’ll also honor the paper’s commitment to the community by telling its story and by chronicling the happenings of the folks who comprise the Deaf Smith County region.

The peril remains, however, for small-town newspapers everywhere just like the Hereford Brand. Immense pressure is being brought to bear by the Internet, by cable TV, by other sources of “information” and commentary. Community newspapers are losing their relevance in people’s lives.

And yet . . .

When news such as what broke in Hereford, a community about 30 miles southwest of Amarillo, that its paper was about to vanish forever, you could hear plenty of wailing about the demise of the paper and expressions of sadness over its impending demise.

The community is now going to be given a chance to demonstrate its commitment to a century-plus-old tradition.

Here’s hoping for a much longer life for the Hereford Brand.

Good luck, Jeff and Angela Blackmon.

Community journalism takes another gut punch

To those of you who aren’t familiar with the Texas Panhandle, this picture might not mean all that much to you.

Those of us who call the place home — or used to call it home — and worked in the field of print journalism, the photo speaks volumes.

It saddens me greatly.

The picture announces the closing of a community institution in a Texas Panhandle community that once relied on its local newspaper to chronicle its stories, to be the “first draft of history” in the town’s on-going evolution.

Hereford, Texas, sits about 30 miles southwest of Amarillo. The Brand has covered the community for 118 years. It’s going out of business. The owners of the paper cite declining circulation, declining advertising revenue and the unspoken issue of “declining relevance” in the lives of those who once read The Brand.

Man, this really stinks. It’s a continuation, I fear, of what is happening in rural communities all across the nation. The “Digital Age” is inflicting more casualties constantly on once-proud community institutions.

Even in Amarillo, where I worked for nearly 18 years, the Globe-News has vacated its historic location and moved into non-descript offices in a bank tower downtown. It has ceased printing the newspaper in Amarillo; that’s being done in Lubbock. It has hired a regional publisher, a regional executive editor, a regional “director of commentary” and a regional “distribution director.” The emphasis is now on centralizing its daily operations. The newsroom no longer employs photographers, its copy desk functions are being done out of a centralized operation center.

Do you get my drift?

Now this new age of “journalism” has claimed another victim.

The Texas Panhandle has a long and rich tradition of kick-a** journalism. The Amarillo Globe-Times once earned the Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, for crying out loud! Communities scattered across the Panhandle’s spacious landscape have been served well by mom-and-pop newspapers that over time have morphed into “group ownership” organizations.

Those communities very soon will have one less newspaper among their ranks.

Sad days, indeed.