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.