Posted by Robert M. Williams on January 20, 2014
This blog post was adapted from remarks the author made at the midwinter meeting of the Texas Press Association in Frisco in January 2014.
Thank you for missing dinner two nights recently because you were attending a county commission or school board meeting. You were there so you could inform thousands of readers who didn't want to be bothered.
You did. And you do. Week after week. Thank you.
Or maybe you were at a Relay for Life meeting where, in addition to reporting on all those volunteers, you probably also coordinated your own volunteer team. Thank you for contributing to the fabric of your community.
Thank you for making three telephone calls over several hours just to be sure the little girl who won a blue ribbon at the horse...
Posted by Tommy Thomason on January 13, 2014
The new year is a time to re-examine ourselves. And often we stop the re-examination with our waistline and our wallet. One’s typically too fat and the other’s too thin, so we decide to re-order our priorities to eat better and exercise more and control our spending.
But as newspaper people, we can’t just stop there. We have to re-examine our core mission: telling people what’s going on in our community.
When you were growing up, you had three in-home entertainment options: the three major TV networks. Now, your TV probably offers you hundreds of channels – not to mention the additional options on your computer or smart phone. In the days of the three TV networks, we typically had one...
Posted by Tommy Thomason on December 3, 2013
At first, we thought our caller just wanted to tell us about Thanksgiving at his house, but before long we realized he really wanted to make a point about Texas newspapers.
Here’s how it went down (shared with his permission):
“I left the football game and went back to the dining room for pecan-pie seconds and a cup of coffee. The women in our family were talking in small groups, and pretty soon I realized something different this year – they weren’t just catching each other up on family news, they were talking about what they had read or posted on Facebook.
“I actually counted five iPhones or iPads in the hands of those nine women. All the conversation was Facebook-related. And not one of the nine women...
Posted by Tommy Thomason on November 27, 2013
At many Thanksgiving tables, family members take turns sharing what they are most thankful for.
The items listed are pretty typical, from the wise guy’s “I’m thankful I’m not the turkey” to appreciation directed at everyone from God to teachers to those in the armed services.
But nobody ever says they are thankful for the electric company or the gas company or the water and sewer department. Those utilities are important – indeed, necessary to the Thanksgiving experience – but their service is so integral to our lives that they go unnoticed.
Newspapers are a lot like that.
No one will say they’re thankful for the local newspaper on Thursday (unless, maybe, they are employed by that...
Posted by Tommy Thomason on November 15, 2013
For busy newspaper people, information about social media is like information about Obamacare – there’s so much, and it’s so complex, that it’s easy to ignore all of it.
Social media didn’t begin as primarily media for news – they were ways for people to connect and share what was going on in their lives. Like sharing over the back fence, a lot of the information was trivial, and Facebook and Twitter got a bad rap (“If I see one more picture of someone’s meal at a restaurant....” or “Who wants to look at that many cute cat videos?”)
So it’s understandable if some publishers and editors don’t realize that social media have become genuine news platforms – of...