Thursday, June 23, 2022

Editor-publisher 'sees more than a headline;' Rotary Club reporter sees a hard worker who's looking for 'the best successor who will keep our community lifeline going'

Laurie Ezzell Brown
It can be difficult for a newspaper to write its own story, especially if it's for sale to the right buyer. In Texas, award-winning Editor-Publisher Laurie Ezzell Brown of The Canadian Record wrote briefly about it in her column last Christmas, and readers of the weekly have been reminded by the sale ad she runs. But not until the Canadian Rotary Club heard her story last week did she have a chance to publish a story about her situation from a more or less independent observer, club Reporter Sarah Rader. It is a testimonial to the paper, Brown, her dedication to it and the community, and her efforts to find a deserving buyer. Some excerpts:
   "There was a stint where Brown connected with a friend who owns a newspaper group that sounded promising in passing the baton of The Record. They would have kept it a community paper, kept local employees, and perhaps have bought a couple of other surrounding newspapers. However, despite how close they came to having a deal, in the end, they could not find anyone who wanted to move to the Texas Panhandle to work ...
   "In today’s time, most journalism schools are rolling out podcasters or TV anchors. What we need, though, in any area is a central, reliable, outlet telling us what’s going on in our local news, elections, council and board meetings, obituaries, sports, even down to monthly lunch specials. When people say no one reads the paper, advertising in it doesn’t work, or young people don’t care about the paper, don’t believe it. I am 32 and read the paper faithfully every week. If stories in the paper seem briefer to you lately, it may be because Brown is the only on-staff reporter right now. . . . So, it’s not surprising that Brown can’t be at 20 different events at once, making it hard to cover everything in our bustling town when she then also has to find the time to write about said events.
   "Brown reiterated how important a local newspaper is with a recent example of the Amarillo news media getting ahold of some of our county commissioners’ decisions and twisting the headlines to be clickbait instead of actually reporting factual information. Many of us know how special Canadian is, and we take great care of how our town is reflected. When bigger media outlets get ahold of something, they don’t care how what they say reflects on us here, because we’re just some small-population town in the Texas Panhandle.
   "A local editor sees more than a headline and realizes that the people involved in any story are real people she’s likely going to see in person over and over. Brown reminded us that she does, in fact, have to live with the consequences of what she reports as well as how she reports it, and has spent a lifetime with those decisions. If she has opinions, she makes sure they stay on the opinion page, not in the news articles.
   "Whether you agree with Brown’s political views and other stances, which she readily acknowledges often differ from many of her subscribers, you have to admit she is thorough, covers many different topics, and strives to be neutral and factual in her news coverage with the material she is privy to. Canadian has had one of the hardest workers in our midst, serving our community on a weekly basis, surviving on little sleep for many years, and recording all our history before our eyes, so it’s no surprise she desires a break.
   "Let’s help Brown retire by finding her the best successor who will keep our community lifeline going."

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