News Briefs February 2002 Print E-mail
Texas Press Messenger
Monday, 11 February 2002 00:00

Daily Tribune goes semiweekly, Texas now includes 91 dailies

BAY CITY — Texas now has one less daily newspaper following The Daily Tribune’s conversion to a semiweekly earlier this month.

Under its new name The Tribune, the newspaper will publish Wednesdays and Sundays.

“The Tribune will continue to provide the same comprehensive coverage of Matagorda County that it has since 1845,” said publisher and editor Mike Reddell.

The Tribune is owned by Southern Newspapers, which has one other semiweekly The Angleton Times, and nine dailies in Texas.

Texas now has 91 daily, 63 semiweekly and 381 weekly newspapers.

Alice competing newspapers merge as Echo-News Journal

ALICE — The daily Alice Echo News’ nameplate grew last month when parent company American Consolidated Media purchased the Alice Journal.

The merger of the daily and free semiweekly, which started in June 2000, combines the newspapers that have been dueling for market share in Alice and Jim Wells County.

Under the agreement, Alice Newspapers Inc. purchased certain assets of South Texas Media Inc., including the weekly Freer Press. On Jan. 6 the two Alice papers combined into the Alice Echo-News Journal. The Freer Press will remain a free-standing newspaper.

Tony Morris, owner of South Texas Media, became the publisher and advertising director at the newly combined newspaper. He will continue as publisher of the Freer Press.

Morris served as publisher of the Alice Echo-News from 1996-99 before leaving for a stint with DFW Community Newspapers. He returned to Alice in June 2000 to found the Alice Journal and a month later he purchased the Freer Press.

Current Alice Echo-News publisher Gene Deason will move to sister newspaper the Stephenville Empire-Tribune to become managing editor.

ACM owns three other dailies, two weeklies and one semiweekly in Texas.

Couple returns to continue publishing Newton weekly

NEWTON — Glenn and Barbara Mitchell once again are publishing the Newton County News.

Except for the past eight months the Mitchells have owned and published the newspaper for 32 years.

Thom Hughes published the newspaper in the interim.

“I am glad to be back as publisher,” Glenn Mitchell said in the Jan. 24 issue. “Retirement is not what I thought it would be.

“One of the hardest jobs I have ever had was doing nothing. I do not recommend retirement to everyone.”

Crosby County weekly changes ownership

CROSBYTON — R.T. “Terry” Ervin purchased the Crosby County News & Chronicle from Ken and Louise Towery.

Ervin is a former professor of agricultural economics at Texas Tech University where he taught for 16 years. He and wife Debora, a special education teacher, have lived in the local area for five years.

The Towery’s purchased the newspaper from Ben Gillespie, who will continue as editor. Gillespie and wife Donna Griffin, who died in February 2001, has worked with the newspaper since 1988.

Appeals court dismisses 10-year-old libel case

SAN ANTONIO — The Fourth Court of Appeals has dismissed an appeal of a 10-year-old libel lawsuit filed against the Eagle Pass News Guide, effectively ending the lengthy case in which publisher Rex McBeath was sued individually.

The court dismissed plaintiff Alejandro Valdez’ appeal after he apparently failed to pay required court fees in seeking the ruling, the News-Guide reported.

On Aug. 5 the judge granted a summary judgment in the unique case that put Texas newspapers on alert after two jury trials handed down large verdicts against McBeath.

The case stemmed from a 1990 erroneous report that the News-Guide published stating that Alejandro Valdez was wanted by Colorado authorities on drug charges. The actual suspect was a relative of Valdez.

The report was one paragraph in the newspaper’s police blotter written by a news reporter. The newspaper ran a correction within a week and ran a separate clarification with wording suggested by the family.

Valdez waited nearly a year before filing a libel lawsuit in October 1991, just two days before the statute of limitations was set to expire.

The case was originally tried in 1995 and a jury handed down a $75,000 award. However, a different judge ordered a new trial and removed then publisher A.W. McBeath as a defendant.

In August 2000 an Eagle Pass jury voted 10-2 in finding McBeath responsible for the incorrect report and awarded Valdez $60,000 in damages.

McBeath hired a new attorney who sought and received a new trial in December 2000 and on Aug. 5 the judge declared a summary judgment, which the plaintiff tried to appeal but apparently did not carry out.

Donrey changes name to Stephens Media

The Donrey Media Group has changed its name to Stephens Media Group.

The group owns 21 newspapers including the Sherman Denison Herald Democrat in Texas. Little Rock-based Stephens Group purchased Donrey Media Group almost nine years ago.