News about Texas newspapers.
Ryan’s retirement marks 34 years at Daily Sentinel
NACOGDOCHES – Longtime Daily Sentinel newsroom leader Debi Ryan has retired, capping a 34-year career with the newspaper.
Ryan started with the Sentinel in 1985 as a typesetter. She later served as page designer/news editor, then managing editor and publisher.
Under her leadership, The Daily Sentinel won numerous regional and state press association awards as well as top honors in Texas Associated Press Managers (TAPME) competitions.
Publisher Rick Craig said a large crowd joined the Sentinel staff in honoring Ryan at a retirement reception hosted by the newspaper.
“Elected officials, business owners, former co-workers and long-time subscribers took the opportunity to wish her well,” Craig wrote in a column bidding her farewell. “She has been appreciated both inside and outside The Sentinel.”
“Over three decades, I’ve had the honor of helping tell the stories of the beauty and strength of the people in this community. How they pull together in times of tragedy and how they celebrate in times of triumph,” Ryan wrote in her final column. “Along with the good news, we’ve also had to shed light on situations that needed to change. That’s what good newspapers do. We’ve done it all.”
She said she plans to spend more time with family particularly her two granddaughters.
Craig said the bulk of Ryan’s responsibilities have been taken over by managing Editor Josh Edwards.
Craig also noted that a new reporter has been added to the staff, as well.
Nathan Wicker, a recent graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University who did freelance sports work for the newspaper, joined the newsroom as a full-time staff writer.
Williams retires from Gazette
TEXARKANA – Jim Williamson, a Texarkana Gazette reporter for the past 16 years whose journalism career spans more than 45 years, has retired.
Williamson, a University of North Texas alum, worked for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram early in his career.
In 1976, he moved to Ashdown, Ark., and began working for the Little River News, which he purchased in 1978.
After selling the publication in the early 2000s, Williamson began working as the Southwest Arkansas reporter for the Texarkana Gazette, covering Miller, Little River, Hempstead, Lafayette, Sevier, Howard and Pike counties.
Former El Paso Times editor joins ProPublica
EL PASO – Zahira Torres, former editor of the El Paso Times, has joined ProPublica to help oversee the New York-based nonprofit news organization’s Local Reporting Network.
In her new position, she worked with local newsrooms on investigative projects in their communities as a senior editor for the network.
Torres started at the El Paso Times as a news clerk two decades ago and rose through the ranks to become the Austin bureau chief. During that time, she worked to uncover a cheating scheme at the El Paso Independent School District — the city’s largest — that denied many El Paso children the right to a proper education.
A graduate of the University of Texas at El Paso, she went on to work for the Denver Post and then at the Los Angeles Times, where she was part of the team that won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news for its coverage of the San Bernardino shootings.
She returned to El Paso to lead investigations before the first Latina to lead the 138-year-old newspaper.
Torres was part of the team of USA TODAY Network journalists that developed and edited “The Wall: Untold Stories, Unintended Consequences,” which won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting. She also served as the enterprise editor for the USA TODAY Network’s Texas/New Mexico newspapers.
Tim Archuleta, the USA TODAY Network’s plains region editor, said the company is working quickly to find a new editor for the Times.
Hearst puts former Chronicle warehouses up for sale
HOUSTON – Hearst Newspapers has put two more Houston properties on the market as it continues to shed underutilized real estate from the company’s Texas newspapers.
The properties, both warehouses east of downtown Houston, were used as distribution and storage facilities for the Houston Chronicle. Those operations have been relocated to the company’s headquarters at 4747 Southwest Freeway, which also houses the newspaper’s newsroom, administrative and advertising offices and printing plant.
The Harris County Appraisal District values the newly listed properties at $2.5 million and $3.3 million.
In October 2015, Hearst Newspapers sold the Chronicle’s downtown building to Hines, and operations moved to 4747 Southwest Freeway, formerly the facilities of the Houston Post. The purchase price was $54 million, according to testimony during a 2016 trial over tunnel access. Hines is currently building an office tower on the site.
Once the local sales are completed, Hearst will still own the Southwest Freeway facilities and a building in Conroe that houses the Courier of Montgomery County newspaper.
New York-based Hearst, which in Texas owns the Houston Chronicle, the San Antonio Express-News, the Beaumont Enterprise, the Midland Reporter Telegram and the Laredo Morning Times, recently listed buildings in each of those markets. Company officials noted most of the buildings up for sale are old printing facilities and the company is investing in smaller, more contemporary offices for staff.
Rains County Leader marks 132nd anniversary
EMORY – The Rains County Leader celebrated its 132-year anniversary in June.
The newspaper has remained under the leadership of the Hill family for the past 115 years.
The first edition of the Rains County Leader was published June 10, 1887, by H.W. Martin,
who chose the first name for the publication: The Argus.
The Argus changed ownership after 1887 and was called The Record. Both Sam Fitzgerald and
W.O. Hebisen worked on the paper at different times, but it is not known who was the publisher or editor.
Before 1900, The Record was sold to A.S. Hornbeck, who renamed it the Rains County Leader. In 1901, he sold the newspaper to J.H. Bradford, a schoolteacher, who sold the paper to Tom W. Hill Sr. in 1904.
Earl C. Hill Jr., the third generation of the Hill family to run the newspaper, died March 27, after serving 23 years as editor, publisher and owner. His son, Earl (Trey) Hill, III, is now the fourth-generation editor and publisher of the Leader.
The only newspaper published in Rains County, the newspaper is recognized as the county’s oldest continuing business.
San Antonio Express-News building listed for sale
SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Express-News building, home to the newspaper for nearly 90 years, is for sale, Publisher Susan Pape announced.
No asking price has been established for the eight-story, art deco-style building at 301 Avenue E, the adjoining printing plant and other space.
“The purpose of this is to explore the development opportunities for this property,” Pape said. “It is in no way related to a change in our structure, our commitment to the community or the products that we are going to produce.”
The Express-News, now owned by Hearst, moved into the building on the day of the stock market crash in 1929. Company officials said the building no longer is suited for the paper’s space requirements.
The building’s top four floors are vacant after various workforce layoffs and a downturn
in the industry. About 300 people currently work in the building.
The Express-News anticipates keeping its operations downtown in a location where employees can work “more efficiently,” a spokesman said.
Ed Cross and Brent Smith of real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield San Antonio will market the property, which totals about 172,000 square feet on 2.1 acres. The Bexar Appraisal District values the property at nearly $10.4 million.
Cross also represented Hearst in the 2016 sale of the former headquarters of the San Antonio Light. Currently under redevelopment by new owners, that five-story historic building has been vacant since 2009, when the Express-News consolidated staff into its current home.
Pape said that if the property is sold, the Express-News would continue to be published at the adjoining printing plant “for the foreseeable future.” Continued use of the printing facility likely would be a condition of sale, she said.