Category Archives: media news

Media landscape is rattling and shaking

If you had asked me to project when I became a newspaper reporter in the mid-1970s what the media landscape would look like, say, in the third decade of the 21st century, there would be no way on God’s good Earth I could predict what would transpire.

The landscape I once knew bears no resemblance to what is taking shape before our eyes right now.

I just heard that the Amarillo Globe-News — the final stop on my 37-year career — is going to suspend publication of its Saturday edition. The G-N is joining other newspapers owned by the media conglomerate in reducing its publication schedule.

Newspapers that are doing this are pledging to (a) commit to a digital delivery of news and (b) maintain its commitment to “local news.” Both pledges bode ill for the industry I once knew and loved — and which gave me untold pleasure in the pursuit of my craft. This looks to me like the next step before the newspapers reduce their delivery even more en route to ending their existence altogether.

I have lost count of the number of times people have told me how they “enjoy the feel of the newspaper in my hands.” Hah! If that were really true, the industry wouldn’t be sucking wind the way it is at this moment.

The Internet is destroying an industry that once employed thousands of people who were committed to “making a difference” in this world. Many of those folks now are pursuing “other interests.”

My wife reminds me of a fundamental truth that I accepted long ago. My career came to an abrupt end in August 2012. I was 63 years of age when the publisher told me that someone else would be doing the job I had done at the G-N for nearly 18 years. What is the truth that my wife reminds me? “I am just grateful that this happened at the end of your career, and not while you were in the middle of it.” 

And so, the landscape is shifting, rattling, rockin’ and rollin’ before us. People who formerly depended on newspapers to tell them the news of their community and the world now look elsewhere.

What lies in store for the future of print journalism in the Texas Panhandle … and in other communities across the land? More retreat as they surrender what they once saw as their exclusive territory to other media.

Therefore, I consider myself to be a media dinosaur. However, it’s good to be comfortable in my own skin.

Trump got more than he deserves

One aspect of the National Public Radio interview that Donald J. Trump gave deals with the conduct of the interviewer juxtaposed with the treatment he got from the subject of his interview.

I am going to presume Trump agreed to the NPR interview that was broadcast this morning to spread his Big Lie beyond the base of support to which he still clings.

The interviewer, Steve Inskeep, is a professional journalist who enjoys great standing among those of us who love the craft of journalism. Inskeep did a great job maintaining his composure while withstanding Trump’s bellicosity.

He also gave the ex-president far more respect than I believe Donald Trump ever deserved. That’s just me, I suppose, but I believe it to be true.

That’s what journalists do. The speak respectfully to their subjects and give them every opportunity to explain themselves in detail. Trump chose to avoid any detailed explanation of The Big Lie involving allegations of voter fraud, electoral theft and that the 2020 presidential election was “rigged” to ensure Joe Biden’s victory.

A lesser man could have exploded at the viciousness of Trump’s lying. Inskeep, though, is a consummate professional. He knows his job is to give the subjects of his interviews the time they seek to explain their positions.

Except that Trump didn’t deliver any sort of detail. He did not attempt to offer any evidence of the specious allegations of vote fraud … because there is no evidence to offer.

Trump hung up the phone on Inskeep after nine minutes of haranguing and hectoring and interrupting him while he sought to ask probing questions.

Through it all, Steve Inskeep kept his composure and acted the part of the consummate professional. He did his job.

Way to go, NPR!

Steve Inskeep, National Public Radio’s main voice on all things political, deserves a high-five, an atta boy and a round of applause for the way he sought to press Donald J. Trump on The Big Lie he keeps alive.

NPR had secured a 15-minute interview with the former POTUS. Inskeep got about nine minutes’ worth of Q&A in before Trump decided he had heard enough questions about The Big Lie. So, he hung up on Inskeep.

The interview is a classic case of Trump continuing to lie, continuing to evade and continuing to produce zero evidence of what he has alleged: that the 2020 presidential election was “rigged” and “stolen” from him through “widespread voter fraud.”

Steve Inskeep sought to get Trump to explain himself, to offer any shred of evidence for the serious allegations he has leveled. Trump, to be candid, was hideous in his assertion of fraud.

My goodness, he couldn’t even stay on topic when responding to specific questions that Inskeep would toss at him.

‘He’s gone. OK’: Trump hangs up on NPR after host presses him on election lies (

It was weird that Trump would agree to talk to NPR in the first place. I mean, he has labeled media that aren’t part of the propaganda wing that promotes the lies he puts forth as “the enemy of the people.” NPR is as down-the-middle as any media outlet one can name. I know what you might think, which is that conservatives consider NPR to be a liberal/progressive media organ. Bullsh**! 

Trump demonstrated why he is so insufferable. Inskeep, meanwhile, demonstrated the qualities of solid journalism, which Donald Trump simply cannot tolerate.

Temp gig has ended

Given that I made a fairly big deal out of a temporary job assignment that came to me a few weeks ago, I feel compelled to tell you that the assignment has concluded.

The Dallas Morning News needed a temporary editorial writer to join the staff. The editor of the opinion pages got in touch with me and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. He told me up front it was a temporary gig. Hey, no sweat, I told him. I am 72 years old and had a nice career as an opinion writer and editor. I said I was game for the assignment.

It ended the other day.

I have to say it was an honor and a thrill to lend a hand for a brief period of time to the staff of a major daily newspaper. I wish them well as they continue on. As for my wife and me, our trek will take us forward, too.

What’s more, if the need ever arises for me to submit a resume to someone, I can add “editorial writer for the Dallas Morning News” to the list of stops along my journey.

Not bad.

What will happen to this site?

I lived in Amarillo, Texas, for 23 years and worked each day for nearly 18 of those years at the Globe-News, a once-good newspaper.

My daily journalism career came to an end in August 2012. The newspaper remains, but at this point it is a newspaper in name only. Yes, the paper still publishes seven days a week. It no longer publishes at the building where it operated for many decades. The printing press is in Lubbock and I don’t know how they handle business affairs, or circulation matters.

The newsroom? A formerly vibrant working environment has been all but eliminated; they’re down to maybe two or three reporters and some stringers (I guess).

The building is vacant. It is in a state of architectural decomposition. The corporate moguls vacated the building and moved what is left of the staff to an office in a downtown bank tower.

The once-proud structure is “tagged” with graffiti. They put out a fire inside the structure a few weeks ago.

The company that used to own the newspaper is still trying to sell the building, from what I hear. I do not know the state of that effort, such as whether it is being marketed aggressively. I don’t get back often to Amarillo, but my hunch is that it is just going to rot some more.

I want to lament the demise of that structure one more time.

The Globe-News used to aspire to becoming a great newspaper. It didn’t quite get there. We did a good job of reporting the news during my time there. I tried to lend some leadership via the opinion pages during my tenure as editor of those pages.

That was then. The here and now suggests to me that the newspaper itself is fading into the community’s past. It saddens me greatly.

Twitter acts correctly in banning fear-mongering liar

Marjorie Taylor Greene can yap and yammer until she runs out of breath.

Twitter acted correctly when it banned her personal access to the social medium permanently. The company’s reason? Greene, a Republican congresswoman serving her first term from Georgia, is peddling lies and dangerous misinformation about the COVID-19 virus that is still killing Americans.

Yes, it is going to prompt a debate about whether Twitter is violating Greene’s First Amendment right to free speech. It isn’t. You see, it has long been established that the constitutional guarantee does not allow anyone to yell “fire!” in a crowded theater, which is the equivalent of what Greene has been doing by pushing out the lies regarding the COVID virus and the vaccines developed to rid us of the virus’s effects.

Remember that Greene was elected in 2020 to the U.S. House of Representatives and promptly equated mask and vaccine mandates to what Jews endured during the Holocaust. House Republican leaders had the good sense — finally! — to strip her of committee assignments.

She continues to bloviate, though. Twitter, a private company, said it has heard enough from the QAnon queen of the House.

I agree with what the social media firm has done.

She was the face of an institution

I want to share a brief word of sorrow over some news I just received from the Texas Panhandle.

Jeane Bartlett, who founded the human resources department at the Amarillo Globe-News (where I worked for nearly 18 years), has just died. Her niece told me via social media.

I am heartbroken.

Jeane spent 55 years working for the newspaper. She retired in 2001 after working with several publishers and two owners.

The first owner was a local family, the Whittenbergs, who then sold the paper to Morris Communications in the early 1970s. The new owners then sought to create an HR department and tasked Bartlett with setting it up. She completed the task and ran a department with equal amounts of efficiency and compassion.

Jeane was one of two Bartletts to work at the Globe-News. Her late husband, Harry, served as production director; his tour at the GN totaled 38 years. So, between them they compiled 93 years of experience at the newspaper of record for the Texas Panhandle.

Jeane Bartlett ran the newspaper’s involvement with the Scripps Howard Spelling Bee, highlighting the accomplishments of local youngsters. She put together holiday parties and became the go-to person on an entire array of community-related events.

Jeane was a tiger but was a sweet one. I relied on her wise counsel to resolve a personnel issue that needed fixing when I was employed there.

I am saddened by all measure to hear the news that she has left this good Earth. I just wanted to share these thoughts with you. I’ll collect my thoughts and wits later.

Year ‘without form’ comes to end

New York Times columnist David Brooks has this way of offering unique perspectives on issues and moments that make me think: Dang, I wish I had thought of that!

PBS NewsHour host Judy Woodruff asked Brooks this past Friday to sum up the year that’s about to pass into history. He called 2021 a “year without form.” I guess that was his way of saying he has difficulty describing it in a concise manner.

It was a year of continued suffering around the world from the pandemic that has taken on a new, unpredictable and potentially dangerous new life.

A new president took office in January and in the spring, Joe Biden promised we would be celebrating our “independence” from the pandemic by the Fourth of July. It didn’t happen. We are farther today than we were then from that independence.

Then again, maybe we are closer than we think. Vaccines are coming out. More Americans are partaking of them. Just maybe we can turn the corner for good soon on the virus that has killed more than 800,000 Americans.

Six days into 2021 we witnessed an insurrection. The House has convened a select panel to get at the root cause of it and find solutions to prevent a recurrence. That work remains to be finished. It has been ongoing for most of the year.

Meanwhile, the immediate past president continues spewing The Big Lie. His followers continue to swallow the swill that pours out of his pie hole.

All this went on during the year.

I am going to hope that 2022 takes on a form, let alone a positive form, as we continue down along journey together.

Dear … Whomever

Whenever I receive one of those “Dear Friends and Family” holiday greetings each Christmas, my memory is drawn immediately to my late mother-in-law.

Why? Well, because she was a relentless writer of letters to what she called her network of “pen friends.”

I want to stipulate something up front: I don’t toss those “Dear Current Resident” letters away when they come from loved ones. I read them. Some of them are rather interesting. For instance, I learned this week that one of my cousins has moved from Denver to North Carolina and that another of my cousins is now what he calls himself a “grand dude.”

However, my memory of my mother-in-law makes me smile when I get these letters.

She insisted on writing original compositions. She also insisted on receiving them. If she got anything that smelled like a “form letter,” she would toss the letter into the trash and scratch the individual from her “pen friend” network.

Her motto, and I paraphrase it broadly here: If you don’t care enough to send me an original letter in return for those I send to you, then you are not welcome to be a pen friend to me.

Her letter-writing kept her mind alert for many years after she retired at age 72 from her job at a Portland, Ore., newspaper. Indeed, the time she would take to write the letters — with her own hand, I hasten to add — kept her active and engaged in her surroundings.

We need more of that these days. Not less of it.

Blog alive and well

It’s been a good while since I’ve waxed rhapsodic about my blog and the joy I receive writing it.

So, I’ll offer a few words to remind you of the only “full-time job” I have. It is High Plains Blogger.

First, a couple of acknowledgements are in order.

One is that my blog traffic has slipped a bit from the high-water mark I experienced in 2019. I don’t know why that’s the case. It might have something to do with the topics I choose for commentary. Maybe readers of this blog are getting bored with me. I regret that terribly if that is so. I will work diligently moving ahead to make the blog more interesting.

I named this blog to remind readers from where I wrote it. We were living on the High Plains of Texas when I started this blog back in 2009. And, yes, it’s a bit of a tribute to one of my favorite film artists, Clint Eastwood, who starred in those “spaghetti westerns,” one of which was called “High Plains Drifter.” I decided to keep the title after we moved from the High Plains to the Metroplex. Why? Because the blog had developed a “brand” that is recognizable. Why trifle with what folks know, right?

Another aspect I need to acknowledge is that I am not contributing the volume of work to the blog as I did before. I have been kinda busy, working as a freelance reporter for the Farmersville Times, a weekly in Collin County, and for KETR-FM, the public radio station associated with Texas A&M University-Commerce. My third gig just dropped out of the sky only recently; I am working a temporary job as an editorial writer for the Dallas Morning News. All of this takes time away from writing for the blog.

I have enjoyed my post-full-time journalism journey immensely. I no longer am fully retired. I cannot declare myself to be “retired.” I pretty much come and go as I please … most of the time. It surely beats working full time for a living.

I will continue with the blog for as long as I am able. To those who enjoy the blog and support its political leanings, I trust that is good news. To those who grind their teeth when they read my musings, well … too bad. Live with it.

Let’s enjoy the ride.