I’m the new guy at the Waco Tribune-Herald, an Oklahoma native who has spent the past 14 years as a regional publisher and editor for newspapers from Texas to Missouri.
As the new editor here, it’s only fair that I introduce myself and tell you a few things about me. It’s the one and only time in this space where the principal subject matter will be its author.
So here goes . . .
I’m a native of Leflore, Okla., a tiny town located in the southeastern part of the state. It’s a strange and wonderful place, far from the beaten path. My folks still live there. Southeastern Oklahoma is mountainous and sparsely populated. It is an important place to people in North Texas because of the abundant, pristine water that flows freely from the region.
At Leflore High School, I played two sports and was active in FFA. To this day, becoming a State Farmer and serving as FFA president are among my most cherished accomplishments. Like every kid, I was convinced I’d make the major leagues some day. That dream died pretty quickly in college, and when the time came to figure out a real major, I decided if I wasn’t good enough to keep playing baseball, the next best thing had to be writing about it.
My high school typing teacher once told me I had knack for writing, and it was that one passing comment that led me to the offices of the college newspaper. I volunteered to cover sports, and away I went.
It’s been 32 years since I first saw my byline in print, and the thrill of it hasn’t gone away.
Politically, I consider myself an independent by association and registration. So far I’ve voted in eight presidential elections (5-3 GOP, in case you’re wondering), and firmly believe our country’s biggest problem isn’t the politicians, it’s the voters who elect them. I’m not a fan of our current president. I didn’t think he was qualified for the job in 2008, and he has done nothing to sway my opinion since.
In spite of being a lifelong OU football fan, I’m very comfortable pulling for Baylor any week other than “that” one. Baylor’s rise to the top of the Big 12 is a good thing for the conference, and Art Briles is a terrific coach.
In random order, my pet peeves are golfers who play slow, hypocrites, voter apathy, our national debt and reality TV. I prefer to surround myself with people who are smarter than me, and firmly believe “Star Wars” got robbed at the 1978 Academy Awards. As part of an ongoing midlife crisis, I’m trying to read some of the so-called classic novels sophisticated, older people read. After six weeks of torture, I gave up on “Moby Dick” but made it through “Catcher in the Rye.” I found the latter pointless.
Other than my family, I don’t really have any heroes.
Although he probably never knew it, my mentor was a guy named George Gurley. He was a retired editor of the first daily paper I ever worked at, and a mean son of a gun. Our publisher would bring Mr. Gurley to the paper from time to time for critique sessions, and he would take us to the woodshed for every little mistake we had made.
“You need to learn the game if you’re to going to write about it,” he once barked at me. I haven’t called a ground stroke a volley in any tennis caption I’ve written since. Mr. Gurley was an old-school guy who could never survive in today’s workforce climate. As harsh and direct as he was, every criticism was designed to hammer away at one point: Truth is in the details. And all details matter.
As our industry continues to evolve and adapt in the digital world, one aspect of our business remains constant, and that’s local news. Readers of the Tribune-Herald expect complete and thorough coverage of news about this area, and local news is our No. 1 priority.
There’s a lot of white noise out there these days. Can you hear it? It’s the Information Age, and it’s very loud right now. Everyone has an opinion, cause or crusade and the Internet allows them to sound off on an unprecedented scale. Every once in a while, there’s even a tidbit of truth in what they’re saying.
The newspaper industry’s death has been predicted many times. Everybody thought radio and television would be our demise. Ultimately, the Internet forced our evolutionary hand. All over the country newspapers are adapting to digital delivery of the news, and doing it quite well. What separates us from the noise is well-written, fact-based news written by seasoned reporters who give readers a complete story.
I look forward to the journey here in Waco. It’s a long way from Leflore, but so is everywhere else.
Steve Boggs is editor of the Tribune-Herald. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.