President’s Message

Why we call TPA colleagues family

First off, let me congratulate Mike Probst, publisher of the Rockport Pilot, for being honored with the 2020 Frank W. Mayborn Award for Community Leadership. Kudos also to this year’s Texas Newspaper Foundation Hall of Fame inductees and winners in the Texas Better Newspaper Contest. It’s great to be recognized for your newspaper’s hard work and for providing strong journalism for your community.

Bread and the newspaper

When I assumed the role of Texas Press Association president nearly 18 months ago, I wondered what I could possibly bring to the table. Age and wisdom? Maybe. Age and experience? I suppose. Age? Got it.
More than anything, though, I was determined to honor the rich legacy of my predecessors.
A day or two later it dawned on me: not only would I have 18 columns to write, but I would be writing them for a fairly exclusive audience of my fellow writers and journalists.

When the well goes dry

The Commerce Journal has covered the news of its community for over 130 years — or at least it did until October 31, 2019, when the last edition of “The Official Paper of the Bois D’Arc Capital of Texas” was published.
Sad news for the 400 residents who still subscribed to the Commerce Journal. Sad news, too, for the nearly 9,000 other residents of that community, who did not subscribe but should have. They may have no idea what they missed. Yet.

Reporting from the road

For days, I had been planning my Thursday escape from the editor’s desk, determined to keep an appointment in Oklahoma City. As any native Texan should, I kept one wary eye on the weather forecast. 
Just four days earlier, I had covered our Fall Foliage Festival wearing shorts and flip-flops. But on Monday morning, the National Weather Service advised that a new weather system might bring light rain and snow to some parts of the Panhandle.

A homecoming tale

Kari Lynn Collins’ powerful column in the Iowa Park Leader is not only a beautiful tribute to that publication’s 50th anniversary—it is also a loving tribute to its founder and publisher, and her mother, Dolores Hamilton. 
Kari’s words struck many familiar chords with me this week, as I remembered the September 22 birthday of my mother and co-publisher, Nancy Ezzell, whose quiet wisdom and strength guided The Canadian Record for over six decades until her death in 2013. Truth be told, it still does.

Newspapers: A keystone species

Nearly a century ago, the gray wolves were eliminated from Yellowstone National Park – the result of the federal government’s early failure to provide for their protection from the human predators that the newly established national park attracted, and of government-subsidized predator control programs that later sped their demise. 
The last wolf kills were reported in 1926. Sporadic reports of wolf sightings followed, but their numbers were no longer sustainable. 

Our job: Get it right and be present

During one of the first Little League baseball games I covered as reporter and photographer, I was confronted by a gentleman who asked me to explain the Little League rules that govern subbing in a player who is not in the batting order.
I suspected it was a test, and that he knew the answer. 
I was already familiar with the far too prevalent notion that women knew nothing about sports and really had no business participating in them. I knew, too, how to read a face, and was fairly certain my interrogator had the same attitude about female reporters.

Newspapers matter

On a long trip back from the Gulf Coast last month, I had plenty of time to think about the interesting people I’ve met and the wealth of information I’ve gleaned while traveling the regional press convention circuit.
I thought in particular of one speaker who marveled at the public attention newspapers have given to their shrinking numbers, observing wryly that we are probably the only industry that announces its own impending demise.

Community service writ large

I took a mountain of exchange newspapers home with me last night, seeking the answer to a question I’d asked of a friend during STPA’s newspaper awards presentation a couple of weeks ago. I was pondering the recent absence of community service award entries in some regional contests.
What is community service? Of course, I know the answer. We all do. The real question I was asking was this: Of all the stories we report, the events and meetings we cover, the photographs we shoot, the editorial dust we stir, what isn’t community service?