Category Archives: media news

This news hurts badly

Freddie Campbell was a dear friend, a confidant and someone with whom I could discuss just about anything.

He died the other day, apparently of complications from cancer. I struggled a bit over how I want to remember Freddie. I came up with something to share, so … here goes.

We worked together for nearly 11 years at the Beaumont Enterprise. I ran the editorial page, Freddie was the paper’s IT guru, the guy who kept the main-frame computer system running.

My day started the same way practically every day once Freddie and I became acquainted. I would go to work, read the paper (which was required of us) and start planning the day’s tasks.

Then Freddie would amble into my office. He would sit down and we then would begin discussing the news of the day. Later on, as often as not, the news involved the then-president of the United States, Bill Clinton. Freddie hailed from Little Rock, Ark., so he was quite familiar with the president. He didn’t think much of Bill Clinton and was unafraid to express his dislike to me. I had a different view of the 42nd POTUS. We would tussle, argue, even get our dander up. He then would get up and go about his day.

The routine would repeat itself the next day and days after that.

Freddie was a good man. He was smart and came from a family steeped in newspaper tradition. He was so very proud of his daughter and the woman she became.

But curiously, though, our friendship hit the rocks in recent years. We lost touch with each other because in the current toxic environment that has poisoned so many relationships, we couldn’t argue our points and then move on.

I regret deeply that our friendship soured.

Rather than talk any more about that, though, I am going to recall the joy we both felt in working for a newspaper, the Beaumont Enterprise, that sought to report on the community, to offer perspective on where we believed was the right direction for the region we covered … and toiled diligently to ensure we could deliver the news each day.

Well done, Freddie Campbell.

News has become boring

News junkies — such as me — shouldn’t ever say what is in my heart and what is about to come out on this blog.

But the candid fact is that the news is beginning to bore me. I spent two weeks in Germany without a TV in sight in the home of my friends. I didn’t miss the commentary and reporting offered by international journalists.

I have been home for a few days and to be honest I have barely turned the TV on since my return. Why is that?

I think it’s because the news has become predictable. The news involving the former POTUS is tracking just about the way many of us thought it would. He is facing criminal prosecution involving the 130 grand payment to the adult film actress. I have heard conflicting reports on how the trial is going. I’m going to wait for the verdict.

The Israel-Hamas war might be getting a break from the carnage. I’m going to wait for the agreement to be announced.

Student protests have erupted on college campuses around the country, including at University of Texas-Dallas. Students are upset with what they believe is our nation’s wrong-headed support of Israel.

I am trying to get re-engaged. A part of me wants to re-connect with the news outlets. However, I keep waiting for reporting that isn’t stale, or on issues about which I know plenty already.

The ex-POTUS’s conduct — including the violations of the gag order imposed by the judge in his hush money trial — would have landed him in the slammer, were it not for his title of ex-Philanderer in Chief.

I am left with trying to find other ways to occupy my noggin. Surely, I can locate something to fill this thick skull of mine.

No TV? No big deal!

NUREMBERG, Germany — I have been living in a home for the past few days that has no TV.

There isn’t one to be found anywhere. You know what? I don’t miss what my Dad used to call the “boob tube” … and he sold them for a living!

My friends opened their home to me about 10 days ago. We did watch a film on one of their laptops: “The Post,” starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, about the release of the Pentagon Papers.

As for the news as presented by TV journalists, well, it has bored me to sleep for too long as it is. Prime-time programming might not be any good, either. Although to be honest, I don’t know what they show on German TV networks. So, I don’t really know what I am missing.

I am not devoid of news. I sure have plenty of outlets to feed me information I need to know. I have been keeping up with the hush money trial of the former president. And some other stuff, too.

I will say, though, that my friends’ home is a quiet place without the white noise humming from a television set.

Am I going to change my ways when I return home to Texas in just a little bit? Hardly.

The respite, though, is welcome.

Newspapers: still in demand?

NUREMBERG, Germany — I have discovered something about the job I did for more than 36 years … which is that the preference for physical newspapers is strong all around the world.

At least, I have encountered an expression to that effect on my visit to this wonderful city in the heart of Bavaria.

Case in point .,.. I attended a Rotary Club meeting here the other day and was sitting with some Rotarians. They asked me what I did for a living, I said I am semi-retired, but when I was a working guy I wrote for newspapers in Texas and Oregon.

The gentleman sitting next to me, the incoming president of the Nuremberg Rotary Club, said he prefers to “have an actual newspaper in my hands,” rather than reading it online.

Wow! I didn’t think quickly enough to say so in person, in real time, but the first thought that zoomed through my noggin was, “I have heard that statement so often … ”

I get what he means. I am of the same ilk. As are many other human beings. Apparently.

Why then, do newspapers across this big world of ours continue to watch their subscriptions plummet?

I am quite sure my new Rotary friend, who is in his mid-50s (and is not a geezer like me) is far from alone in preferring to read the newspaper.

Sigh … we’re all checking out of this world. When they toss that dirt on our faces, which is inevitable, we aren’t being replaced by younger folks who are willing to keep this tradition alive.

932 days … and counting

This isn’t a boastful post, but it is one that calls attention to a streak I’ve enjoyed for a very long time.

For 932 consecutive days I have posted something on High Plains Blogger that might be of some interest to someone out there.

High Plains Blogger is taking a lengthy airplane right Tuesday morning, which might — perhaps, maybe — put that streak in some jeopardy. I will work to ensure it remains intact.

I am going to Nuremberg, Germany for two weeks. I will be visiting dear friends who invited me back there when they got word of my bride’s passing way. I’m taking them up on their generous hospitality.

My hope is that we don’t get too gabby and I forget to post something within a particular calendar day.

The gentleman who is hosting me is a journalist, so he knows about my deadline pressure. His wife works for the government, so she knows, too. They are wonderful friends and are the parents of three fabulous children, who have grown significantly — of course — since the previous time I was there in 2016 with Kathy Anne.

I do know this: my bride would insist I keep the streak alive.

So … I will.

Lamenting media’s sorry state

It is time for me to lament the sorry state of three newspapers where I worked full time as a print journalist.

Two of them are still in “business,” but barely so; the third one — the first newspaper that hired me as a young sportswriter — is gone, kaput, history.

I started work at the Oregon City, Ore. Enterprise-Courier in the spring of 1977. My first job was a temporary gig; it became permanent when a staff member resigned, and I took his place. I stayed there until the spring of 1984.

I moved to Beaumont, Texas, to work for the Beaumont Enterprise. I stayed at the Gulf Coast newspaper until January 1995.

Then I moved to the other end of Texas, to the Panhandle, to work for the Amarillo Globe-News, which at the time published two daily newspapers. The afternoon paper was folded into the morning paper in 2001. I stayed there until August 2012.

Since my departure, the Globe-News and — I must add — the Enterprise have devolved into shadows of their former solidness. Neither paper achieved true greatness, although the Globe-News — or more specifically, the p.m. Globe-Times — was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service in 1961.

That was then, when the communities served by newspapers depended on them to tell the communities’ stories. They were part of people’s lives. Their readers depended on them to keep them informed, to tell them about the world we all call home.

Alas, no more.

It has gotten so bad that I no longer look to either the Globe-News or the Enterprise to see what is happening in the communities where my family and lived. How sad is that? I’ll answer it for you. It’s very sad … at least it is to me.

The media climate has destroyed a once-great American institution. I was so very proud to be a part of it as I practiced my craft with great joy and dedication to following the rules of accuracy and fairness.

It’s not all gloomy, though. I remain in the game as a freelance reporter for a chain of weeklies in Collin County. I still am having more fun than I deserve.

Americans across the land have turned to other sources for information. Is it as reliable as the info we provided in Oregon City, in Beaumont and in Amarillo? I fear it is not.

That is to the shame of those who have wrecked what used to be the pride of many communities … and to those who have embraced this new media climate.

Memoir work ramps up

Because I have been making command decisions left and right, here’s another one for you to ponder.

I have decided to recommit to finishing a piece of work I’ve been toiling over for many years, a memoir I am writing for my family.

The memoir was my beloved bride’s idea. Kathy Anne told me I needed to memorialize the people and events in my career and give the finished product to our sons and their families. I began work on it some time back.

This week I added two more entries noting two individuals I whose paths I crossed while working as a print journalist for nearly 37 years. Then this morning, I took another step toward organizing my work.

I looked at the list of people and events I had penciled in and noted all those I had entered into my draft memoir. I counted those entries and learned that, by golly, I am about two-thirds of the way through my list.

Then again, more names pop into my noggin, usually without warning. So, I will add them, too, to the lengthy list of famous and infamous individuals I have been blessed or cursed to meet along the way.

Some of my friends have asked me if I intend to publish it. Hmm. I have thought about it and to be honest, I haven’t yet decided. There well could be enough text to fill a small paperback if I choose to go that route.

I had a joyous ride pursuing my craft. When Kathy Anne made the pitch to write it all down, I didn’t need persuading. I thought, “You know, I have met some fascinating individuals and the circumstances of those encounters themselves are worth remembering.”

I’m not entirely sure why I am sharing this with you. Maybe it’s my way of revealing how I plan to spend my time re-crafting my life into something entirely brand new.

I do want to share the ups and maybe even some of the downs I encountered while doing something I truly loved doing.

Wish me well …. please.

Nothing wrong with ‘mainstream’

Conservatives far and wide take great joy in hurling the so-called “mainstream media” epithet at reporters and editors who tell them the truth about their favorite politicians.

I disagree, therefore, that the term should be used in that context. If the right-wingers out there are going to toss the term “mainstream media” at those of us who are (or used to be) employed by media organizations, they should include their pals who toil for conservative outlets, too.

Fox, Newsmax, Daily Wire, the NY Post, DC Examiner are every bit as “mainstream” as any other media organization. If we’re going to lump all media organizations under the “mainstream” umbrella, then for criminy sakes, include the righties, too.

I only would implore the right-wing media, though, to abandon the lies they promote about, oh, the 2020 election and the immediate past president’s non-response to the COVID pandemic.

But they’re still mainstream … you know?

Who’s the insane one?

I suspect we’re going to see social media images like the one that appears on this brief blog post.

It gives anyone who backs the presumed Republican Party presidential nominee the what-for given the moron’s bizarre proclivities. The picture shows the ex-POTUS saluting a North Korean general, I presume in advance of his meeting with North Korean despot and murderer Kim Jong Un.

I cannot predict these images and texts will spell the difference in the upcoming election. They damn sure should!

To think that this idiot’s fans, cultists and minions would suggest that Joe Biden has lost his snap is, as the meme suggests, “laughably irrelevant.”

Except that I am not laughing.

NBC pulls its head out

Just when I thought the world was going to hell, a major TV network has delivered the goods and thought better about a horrible hiring decision it had made.

NBC News withdrew its decision to hire former Republican Party chair Ronna McDaniel as an on-air political contributor.

I want to stand and cheer out loud! So … I will.

You see, NBC erred in hiring McDaniel after the former party chair had been complicit in the effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election; after she denied President Biden had been elected fairly; after she promoted The Big Lie put forth by the 2020 Republican Party presidential nominee.

She is far from just someone who once led a major political party. She is a purveyor lies and deception. That a TV network would put her on the air to offer political commentary was just too much to swallow. It drew tremendous blowback from its own employees and journalists everywhere.

The network today thought better of its own stupidity … and pulled Ronna McDaniel’s name off the table.