“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into”

Jonathan Swift
"The Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital." - Bill Maher
"The city is crowded my friends are away and I'm on my own
It's too hot to handle so I gotta get up and go

It's a cruel ... cruel summer"

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Message from The Amarillo Independent

Welcome to the first issue of the second year of publication of The Amarillo Independent.

It was a year ago, on April 20, 2006, to be exact, that our first issue hit the streets.

We began with faith that the community needed another voice and would support a news philosophy that called for in-depth reporting, investigative journalism, longer stories and a little edge to the news. In short — real news and honest journalism. We launched our effort with veteran journalists who are well-known and respected in the Panhandle.

Since starting — with photographer Ralph Duke and reporters Greg Rohloff and David Bowser — we have added Kathie Greer to our publishing enterprise. The newsroom of The Amarillo Independent can now claim more than 120 combined years of journalism experience and a treasure trove of institutional memory about Amarillo and its denizens.

Our behind-the-scenes crew of David K. Kelley, one of the most skillful copy editors I’ve ever run across, and Troy Foos, who gives the Indy an eye-grabbing design, makes the newspaper readable and artistic.

Perhaps those facing the biggest challenge have been our sales staff, some of whom have moved on to other endeavors. But Lowell McKown and Ed Armstrong can’t go unmentioned for their help. Their hard work as we build our presence in Amarillo is truly appreciated.

Finally, if you’ve ever tried to herd cats, you’ll know what a tough job our business manager, Dedra Stevens, has. She keeps things in this very loosey-goosey office in line.

You know, those one-minute managers who tell you where someone has moved your cheese never really tell you the true secret to leadership: Surround yourself with the best people you can (hopefully they are smarter than you), and then listen to them. Personally, as a publisher and editor, I consider myself honored and lucky to have found people willing to work with me who are smarter and wiser.

It’s not just the internal workings of an organization that make it a success. I have taken to calling the people in this community who have supported us, our angels. Those are our advertisers, the ones who have helped pay the bills by letting us tell the community about their businesses and products.

We also deeply appreciate that the Amarillo Dusters have accepted us as their media partners and we hope they enjoy working with us as much as we do working with them. We’d like more of that kind of support, of course, from the business community and from the other professional sports teams in Amarillo. That’s because we believe that a business needs a financial margin in order to have a mission and we’d like to expand our mission into more pages and more stories and more investigative reporting. All of the folks I have mentioned have contributed to the Indy’s success more than I have.

We have said it before: The Amarillo Independent is a locally owned newspaper that is not pressured by out-of-state corporate interests to maximize profit. So, our loyalty is to our readers and our community.

We are proud of the journalism we have done. We believe it is important that the media are watchdogs — not lapdogs. I know that’s not an original phrasing. I’ve heard it time and again in a variety of workshops with the Investigative Reporters and Editors, one of the journalism organizations to which I belong.

So, I remind our readers and the community that we intend, as we grow and strengthen, to look out for taxpayer interests and make sure that elected officials and the government work for us and not the other way around.

In addition, as I have said before, but at this juncture of our enterprise it bears repeating: Oversight of nonprofit institutions is as important as that of government officials and agencies.

That philosophy arises from the large role these institutions play in this community and the responsibilities that society places on nonprofit institutions in return for the tax breaks and other exemptions that for-profit entities don’t get. The quid pro quo of this contract between society and nonprofits may presume that good works by the nonprofits will come without society’s oversight. However, as we have seen in some of our reporting over the past year, oversight may be needed.

It has truly been a pleasure to serve this community over the past year and we appreciate the community’s support. We hope this relationship will continue long into the future.