Industry news

News about and of interest to Texas newspapers.

Kilgore News Herald sold to M. Roberts Media
LONGVIEW – The Kilgore News Herald has been acquired by M. Roberts Media, owner of the Longview News-Journal, The Marshall News Messenger and other newspapers.
The acquisition was announced to employees Dec. 14. Terms of the deal between M. Roberts Media and News Herald owner Bluebonnet Publishing Co. LLC were not disclosed. Gary Borders, senior associate with Grimes, McGovern & Associates, represented the seller in the transaction.
In late November, M. Roberts Media acquired the Tyler Morning Telegraph. In addition, the company owns the Panola Watchman in East Texas and the Victoria Advocate in South Texas.
M. Roberts CEO Dick Franks predicted a seamless transition “for readers, advertisers and the News Herald’s other business partners as the combined companies collaborate to ensure all aspects of service are enhanced.”
“We’re extraordinarily proud of the newspaper produced by our staff and proud of the newspaper’s contribution to the cities and school districts we cover,” said Bill Woodall, managing partner of Bluebonnet Publishing Co. “But this is a changing industry and the News Herald needs an owner with the energy and the resources to move it into a new era of local news — an era in which print and digital platforms will merge transparently; M. Roberts Media has both the energy and the resources.”
The Kilgore News Herald has roots stretching back to the early days of the East Texas oil boom and has changed hands several times. It represents the 1940 consolidation of the Kilgore Daily News, established in 1931, and the Kilgore Herald, founded in 1935. Then a daily publication, the News Herald was owned by longtime publisher Charles K. Devall, who sold it in 1979 to Donrey Media Group of Arkansas. The newspaper was acquired in 1998 by Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. of Alabama and was acquired in 2001 by Bluebonnet Publishing.
Jerry Pye assumed duties as publisher of the Kilgore News Herald. He also oversees The Marshall News Messenger and The Panola Watchman.

BardwellInk acquires Lindale News & Times from Bluebonnet 
LINDALE – BardwellInk, LLC, owned by Jim and Suzanne Bardwell, recently purchased the Lindale News & Times from Bluebonnet Publishing.
Bardwellink, LLC also owns the Gladewater Mirror, White Oak Independent and East Texas Sports Magazine.
Jim Bardwell, a 45-year veteran of the newspaper business, noted the transaction represented a homecoming for him. He was publisher of the newspaper some 20 years ago. 
He has also worked with News & Times Editor Terry Cannon in the past, when they were both students at East Texas State University and later at the Commerce Journal.
Bardwell has worked at large and small dailies and run weekly newspapers throughout the East Texas area for various newspaper chains. 
He is an award winning journalist and photographer and is a recipient of the Dallas Press Club’s Katy Award. He currently serves at second vice president of the Texas Press Association.
Suzanne Bardwell taught journalism and was adviser for the student newspaper and yearbook at White Oak High School for 22 years before retiring in 2013 to work with her husband at the Gladewater Mirror. Her high school journalism program won numerous state and national awards annually.

Odessa American staff moves to new offices 
ODESSA – The Odessa American staff has moved to new office facilities, leaving the building the newspaper occupied for almost 70 years.
The paper is now located on the second floor of the Southwest Office Building, 4001 E. 42nd St. It had been located at 222 E. Fourth since 1951.
Publisher Pat Canty said the new offices are more modern and “a much better fit for our needs in a news media landscape in which technology requires less space.” 
The City of Odessa bought the paper’s building and parking lot in September 2016 as part of the city’s efforts to revitalize the downtown area. The purchase price was $1.6 million with an offer of an additional $50,000 as an incentive for the newspaper’s parent company, AIM Media Texas to vacate the building within two years.
“This really is a win-win deal,” Canty said. “We get to move into a wonderful newer home. And the city of Odessa will be able to use our old property as part of their ambitious plans to revitalize downtown.”
Long-term plans for the building site have not been announced, but there are plans for the parking lot located across from the site of a new Marriott Hotel and Convention Center scheduled to open next summer. The parking lot is set to become the site of a new Torchy’s Tacos restaurant.

The Bellville Times marks anniversary
BELLVILLE – The Bellville Times celebrated the newspaper’s 140th anniversary in December with a special supplement focusing on the development of Bellville and Austin County as reported in the Times.
The section included stories published in various times in the city’s history, going as far back as an 1895 history that included drawings of buildings, descriptions of businesses active at the time and interviews with Thomas Bell and his son John Bell. 
There were other articles from the late 1800s and early 1900s written by former Bellville Times Publisher R.A. Zeiske. A memories column first published in 1998 included information and images of what the town square looked like in the 1920s and 1930s, as well as stories about how the surrounding communities received their names and when Bellville became a railroad center. 
Coverage of the 1960 courthouse fire was also included.
Publisher Bruce White noted that in the 1895 special edition, then publisher B.B. Hill apologized to readers for not being able to include everything. “I will to the same,” he wrote, adding his thanks to advertisers and readers for their support over the years.

Merger creates Trinity County News-Standard 
TRINITY – Trinity County’s two weekly newspapers merged Jan. 1 when the Groveton News and Trinity Standard officially became the Trinity County News-Standard. 
The merger was announced by Jason Chlapek, editor of the two newspapers, and Valerie Reddell, news director for Polk County Publishing Company.
While ad building and printing operations were consolidated, Reddell noted that both the Groveton and Trinity offices will remain open with the same staff members available to serve readers and customers at both locations.
“This consolidation on the print product allows us to continue focusing our resources on local news — whether it’s something happening in Goober Gap just outside Trinity, Sebastopol or in downtown Sumpter,” Reddell said.

Eastland County Today leads digital project preserving archives
EASTLAND – Editions of Eastland County Newspapers are being digitized and added to the Southwest Collection’s online digital repository in the special collections library at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, according to an Eastland County Today article.
The Eastland County digital newspaper project traces its origin to 2014. Publisher H.V. O’Brien was instrumental in obtaining newspapers from each of Eastland’s major communities, Cisco, Eastland, Gorman, Ranger and Rising Star. Working in conjunction with the Eastland County Newspapers group, the library formed an early partnership that helped the Southwest Collection foster relationships with other regional newspaper publishers to build a strong digital newspaper program.
Beginning in the 1950s and continuing through the early 2000s, the Southwest Collection led an effort to microfilm West Texas newspapers. Copies of the microfilms were offered to local institutions, but the master copies were permanently housed at the Southwest Collection for long-term preservation. These reels were an integral element of the current project, because the Southwest Collection now has the capability to convert microfilm images into digital images.
Newspapers available include editions of The Carbon Messenger, The Cisco Press, The Eastland Telegram, The Gorman Progress, The Ranger Times and The Rising Star. Newspapers from Baird in neighboring Callahan County are also included in this project. Newspapers from Eastland County date to as early as 1919, and the oldest available newspaper from Baird dates to 1887.
The collection can be viewed online at

Hood County News  rolls out new website 
GRANBURY – In December, the Hood County News rolled out a new website and digital edition of the weekly newspaper, Publisher Jerry Tidwell announced.
All subscribers still receive the print edition of the newspaper with the addition of the new electronic edition version, which is also available to currently registered digital subscribers. Upon publication of each new issue, subscribers receive an email notification of the issue’s availability and a link to connect to the current eEdition. The new digital edition includes search capabilities in a flip-book format.

Former publisher takes over Humane Society operations in Harlingen 
HARLINGEN – Lilia Castillo Jones, former publisher of the El Paso Times and the Valley Morning Star in Harlingen, is the new executive director of the Humane Society of Harlingen, overseeing operations, marketing and financing of the nonprofit organization.
She was appointed by the group’s board of directors in late October. In an interview with the Valley Morning Star, she said she is happy with her move to the nonprofit sector. In addition to fundraising and a new, larger shelter, Jones’ goals include educating the community about adoption and care for animals and improving the adoption process.

Liberty Vindicator reproduces first front page on anniversary  
LIBERTY – The Liberty Vindicator celebrated the newspaper’s 131st anniversary Dec. 9 by publishing a replica of the first edition’s front page, along with a brief history of the publication and a biography of the newspaper’s founder, T.J. Chambers.
Editor Casey Stinnett noted that “it would be more customary to make a to-do about an anniversary falling on the ten-year mark but this time last year we were still trying to dry out (after flooding and other destruction from Hurricane Harvey) and were too preoccupied with other matters.”
The top story printed in The Vindicator’s first edition was about a woman prepared for burial who sat up in her coffin, Stinnett noted. “Other stories, obtained through a cooperative newspaper exchange, included Longview getting rid of its telephone system, a couple in Waco who were married in a storefront window, another story from Waco about the streets rotting because a contractor had used garbage as a base material instead of gravel, and a search for treasure thought left behind by robbers near El Paso.”

Fayette County Record, LISD revive La Grange High School student newspaper  
La GRANGE – The La Grange High School student newspaper returned to the pages of the Fayette County Record Dec. 14.
Editor Jeff Wick introduced the newest edition of the Leopard’s Take, noting it was the first in more than 25 years.
He described the student staff as a dedicated group who worked on their own time to produce the edition, under the supervision of teacher Tara Bennett. In addition to being part of the Fayette County Record, 600 copies of the four-page issue were printed for distribution at the high school. Advertisers helped cover most of the printing costs, Wick said, and two more editions are planned in the spring semester.
“We hope their efforts pave the way for future newspaper staffs at LHS and maybe a newspaper class at the school in the future,” Wick wrote.

Dallas Morning News writers win Hugh Aynesworth Awards
DALLAS – Three Dallas Morning News journalists were awarded top honors by the Press Club of Dallas in a Dec. 1 ceremony at the Irving Convention Center.
Cary Aspinwall, Frank L. Christlieb and Michael Florek were named winners of Hugh Aynesworth Awards recognizing excellence in Texas journalism.
Aspinwall won two categories, daily newspaper investigative reporting and public service, for her investigative series “What Happened to Tony Timpa?” about a Dallas man who died in police custody and for stories focused on women in jail and their children.
The award for daily newspaper feature reporting went to Christlieb for his work “What kind of father” about confronting the troubling past of the father he never knew.
Florek was honored in the sports feature reporting category for his project “The faith he carries” about a Cedar Hill football coach’s attitude and faith in the face of his son’s battle with a rare form of cancer.
In addition, DMN writer Naomi Martin was a finalist in the feature category for her story “Speaking up for Kara,” about a North Texas family using marijuana to treat their daughter for severe autism.
In all, 17 winners and an additional 10 finalists were lauded by the Press Club for work published in 2017.