Industry news

News about and of interest to Texas newspapers.

M. Roberts Media buys Tyler Morning Telegraph
After more than a century of continuous family ownership and management by the Clyde and Bothwell families, the Tyler Morning Telegraph changed owners.
According to releases by the Longview and Tyler newspapers on Nov. 28, the paper was acquired by M. Roberts Media, a family-owned newspaper group that operates the Longview News-Journal, Marshall News Messenger, Panola Watchman and the Victoria Advocate. After closing Nov. 30, the transition took place Dec. 1.
“To see an ownership transition to another family and community-minded operator is a great thing for our staff and customers,” said Nelson Clyde, publisher of the Tyler Morning Telegraph and president of T.B. Butler Publishing Co., the newspaper’s owner for more than 100 years.
Stephen N. McHaney, president of M. Roberts Media and publisher of the News-Journal, said the arrangement cements the Tyler and Longview newspapers’ place as the dominant media players in the region while opening new avenues for them to better serve and promote East Texas through print, digital and face-to-face media.

Abilene Reporter-News staff covers fire in their building
ABILENE – The staff of the Abilene Reporter-News covered a major fire in the 137-year-old newspaper’s historic downtown building Nov. 15.
Eight Abilene Fire Department crews responded, including five engine trucks and three ladder trucks, involving about 60 firefighters. Additional firefighters were called to staff fire stations. 
No one was injured. About 25 people in the building safely were evacuated.
The fire burned a hole through a section of the roof, and there was extensive water and smoke damage throughout the building. Much of the water used to fight the fire collected in the basement. When employees were allowed briefly into the dark building in the afternoon to gather personal belongings and equipment, several inches of water covered every floor. 
Employees set up a temporary workspace at the Grace Museum to report on the fire and handle other news reporting activities. Sports reporters worked remotely.
The fire did not spread to the press, but operations were curtailed while equipment was assessed. In the meantime, the Reporter-News and its sister newspaper, the San Angelo Standard-Times, were printed at the Times Record News facility in Wichita Falls.
News and advertising staffs continue to work from the Grace Museum while cleanup and repairs are underway in the main building.
The three newspapers are part of Gannett, which is providing support.

Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel debuts new website design
NACOGDOCHES – The Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel recently unveiled a redesigned website, a project spearheaded by Publisher Rick Craig.
The updated site is intended to function better on phones and tablets in addition to desktop and laptop computers. Craig said elements from a number of newspaper website from around the country were incorporated into the new design with input from Sentinel staff in all departments.

Bridgeport Index marks 126th anniversary
BRIDGEPORT – On Nov. 15, The Bridgeport Index marked 126 years of publication in Wise County.
Originally known as the Boyd Index, and later as The Wise County Index, the newspaper’s colorful history was traced in a column by Editor Jake Martinez. Keith Bridwell has been publisher of the Index since 1998. Bridwell’s father, Harlan Bridwell, purchased the newspaper in 1957.

Valley Mills Progress changes weekly publication date
VALLEY MILLS – The Valley Mills Progress recently changed its publication date and printer, Publisher Mark Grear announced in a column.
With press day on Tuesday at The West News, the Progress now publishes on Wednesdays. 
The newspaper previously printed at the Hillsboro Reporter on Wednesdays with a Thursday publication date each week.
Grear said the Hillsboro Reporter’s press is closing with the retirement of printer Ed Makovy and a decline in printing jobs has made it uneconomical to keep the press going. The Reporter is now printing in Bryan.

Lamesa Press-Reporter sports writer honored
LAMESA – When Lamesa ISD, Athletic Director Greg Moreland and the Golden Tornadoes football team dedicated their final season game to longtime Lemesa Press-Reporter sports writer Dwight Heins, several other schools in the area followed suit.
Heins, who has handled sports for the Press-Reporter for 36 years, recently lost a leg to complications from diabetes. His hospitalization and treatment continues.
In addition to an award of appreciation, LISD officials presented donations from fans and from the Wayne Hogg Memorial Golf Tournament to help the Heins family with medical expenses.
The same week, school officials with O’Donnell ISD, Klondike ISD and Sands ISD donated gate proceeds from junior high final season football games. In addition, fans made donations at the games.
In addition to covering sports, Heins has helped coach youth sports in Lamesa.

Interim leadership in place as Houston Chronicle seeks to fill top newsroom posts 
HOUSTON – Two veteran journalists are temporarily taking the helm of the Houston Chronicle while a nationwide search is underway to fill top leadership positions. 
Deputy Managing Editor/Investigations Steve Riley is serving as acting editor of the Chronicle and Sunday/Enterprise Editor Tony Freemantle is serving as acting managing editor. 
Houston Chronicle Publisher John McKeon made the announcement, adding that the search to fill the executive editor position could take up to six months. The new executive editor will be responsible for filling the managing editor post.
Riley, 60, has overseen investigations and projects at the Chronicle since November 2017 with a team of reporters and a data editor. Previously, he spent more than 30 years at the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., as senior editor for investigations, deputy managing editor for enterprise and visuals, metro editor, sports editor and as a reporter. He also spent time in Mississippi reporting for the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson; The Sun in Gulfport; and the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo. 
Freemantle, 64, has worked as a reporter, editor, writing coach and columnist during his 37 years at the Chronicle. He assumed the Sunday/Enterprise editor position in 2017. Before that, he served as metro editor twice. He was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in international reporting in 1997. Freemantle also worked at the former Houston Post. A native of South Africa, he started at the Rand Daily Mail in Johannesburg.

NNA Postal Guru Max Heath assuming emeritus status
Max Heath, postal guru for the National Newspaper Association, is officially moving to emeritus status at the end of the year, NNA President Andrew Johnson announced.
Succeeding him is government relations committee chair and former NNA President Matthew Paxton IV, publisher of The News-Gazette, Lexington, VA. 
According to Johnson, Paxton has been building his postal expertise as one of NNA’s four members on the U.S. Postal Service Mailers Technical Advisory Committee, where the organization helps USPS to shape policies and procedures to help NNA members.
With the change, Johnson also announced the merger of NNA’s Postal and Government Relations committees, which have been meeting annually in tandem for several years. 
“We also expect to make our postal assistance to members available through a more formal postal hotline, so we can make sure members receive help from the most qualified expert available when Max is not on call,” Johnson said.
Heath will continue to be available to advise members in working through the challenges of delivering newspapers in the mail and will occasionally attend the MTAC meetings as his time permits.

TMA Anson Jones Awards rules, deadline announced
AUSTIN – Jan. 10 is deadline for entries in the Texas Medical Association’s Anson Jones awards recognizing general interest journalism in 11 award categories tailored for print media, for online media, and for radio and television. 
Those who covered health or medical stories this year, from issues in the state and national spotlights to hometown news, are encouraged to enter their work. Up to four entries may be entered in one or more categories. Any work published in 2018 is eligible. 
The Texas Health Journalist of the Year award recognizes a body of health coverage work published or broadcast during the contest period. San Antonio Express-News reporter Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje is the most recent winner. Her winning package included stories 
on the opioid crisis and the effects on women’s healthcare when Planned Parenthood was defunded by the Texas Legislature.
TMA physicians and members of TMA’s Council on Health Promotion judge the competition, along with respected former journalists from the news publishing and broadcast fields. 
The contest is free to enter, and prize money ranging from $500 to $1,000 will be awarded. Entries are due by noon on Jan. 10.
Entry forms are available online. For more information, contact  Tammy Wishard, TMA outreach coordinator, at (512) 370-1470, or email