As I lament the agonizing, excruciating, painful demise of a once-proud craft — print journalism — I remind myself of this frightening fact.
I worked for four newspapers during my nearly 37 years as a print journalist and two of them are long gone, while the other two are mere shadows of their former selves.
In 1976, I landed a job on the copy desk of the Oregon Journal, the evening newspaper of record in my hometown of Portland. In 1982, the Journal folded. It was gone forever.
I had moved by that time to Oregon City, to work at a suburban newspaper just south of Portland. We published five days each week. I became editor of the paper in 1979, which probably was a serious career mistake, as I wasn’t prepared to take on that task. The Enterprise-Courier folded in 1988. It, too, was relegated to the dust bin.
I had moved on to Beaumont, Texas, in the spring of 1984 to become an editorial writer for the Enterprise. I was promoted to editor of the opinion pages later that year. I stayed until January 1995, when I moved to Amarillo to become editor of the opinion pages of the Globe-News.
What happened in Beaumont and Amarillo is nothing short of heartbreaking. Both papers are still around … so to speak. Their staffs have been obliterated. The Enterprise’s parent company is trying to sell the building where the newspaper once was a thriving presence. The Globe-News’s parent company sold to another media giant and it moved the paper out of its iconic structure and has sold that property to another business.
The Enterprise and the Globe-News once were pillars of their communities. Now they are battered hulks. They once covered vast distances. The Enterprise reached into Deep East Texas and as far east as Lake Charles, La. The Globe-News once had a bureau in Clovis, N.M. and covered everything in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles and even reached into southwest Kansas.
The Globe-News once won a Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service for its work in revealing corruption in county government.
Maybe it’s me, that I jinxed all of ’em. Just kidding.
I simply am saddened at the pending demise of what used to be communities’ major source of information about themselves and told many thousands of readers the news of the state, nation and the world.
I am left just to sigh.