• Phil Latham

Why are you here, Phil?

I’ve given up my paying gig as a writer, resigning for the second time from the Longview News-Journal as editor-emeritus, writing a column a week and writing most of the local editorials that appeared in that newspaper.

I have not – and cannot – give up writing, however. As long as I can piece two words together that somewhat make sense, I suppose I’ll be trying to do so.

There was no conflict or problem that led to my resignation, though it does coincide with the News-Journal’s decision to eliminate the position of editor at the paper, which was held by Ric Brack for the last 10 years.

M. Roberts Media, which owns the News-Journal, also eliminated the position of editor and publisher at its other significant newspaper, the Victoria Advocate. Chris Cobler, who is a heck of a journalist in his own right, lost his job in that move.

The company did what it had to do I suppose. Brack was a first-class editor and the writing you will see here over the months will be poorer for not having someone of his caliber to read them before they are published.

I am told a total of 17 people lost their jobs in the purge caused by the financial devastation of the Covid-19 pandemic. Newspapers are a tough business today to begin with and survival may be in question for many of them. I don’t have any idea how close to the edge M. Roberts Media is but it is obviously not going well.

I suspect the coverage and writing you will see in the News-Journal and Advocate will suffer, too. This will make the business case even worse. Once you start sliding downhill, it only becomes tougher.

At my suggestion, I had taken a 50% pay cut for the last three months but that paltry amount was just a drop in the bucket. Nor will the reduced amount help much but every expense cut adds up.

Taking over the helm of all the East Texas newspapers M. Roberts Media owns is John Anderson, who’s been editor at Tyler for about a year. From what I see through my own subscription, Anderson surely knows what he is doing and he is a crackerjack of a columnist.

There’s only so much one person can do, though. He is going to have one tough time running Tyler and Longview. There’s a lot of nuance between those two cities that must be navigated.

I wish him the best. Really.

My decision has nothing to do with him or anyone else. I’ve always been treated well by M. Roberts Media. Please continue to subscribe to one of those two papers if you live in their area. Newspapers are vitally important and we aren’t going to realize just how important until we lose them.

The upside of this move for readers is that they will no longer face a paywall at Longview. The downside is – beyond the lack of editing – is that the little website I got for free is not great and you may have to hunt for my writing.

I’ll try to improve that as time goes on.

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