A New Definition of “Roving Reporter”
It’s one of those things you thought you’d never actually see, like pigs flying, the Rangers in the World Series, falling ice being a health hazard at a local sports arena.
The Star-Telegram posted the story on its web site Wednesday confirming that former XTO Energy chairman Bob Simpson has signed a contract to buy the newspaper’s downtown headquarters building. The rumor around the newsroom is that the staff, much reduced by layoffs and buyouts over the last several years, will move across the street into the Oil and Gas Building.
Sale of the historic building is a sad and scary comment on the state of the news business in this town, but it’s also true that newspapers, like most businesses, do change addresses from time to time.
But how many businesses sell the desks out from under their employees and tell them to work from home? That’s what the Star-T’s features section reporters were told earlier this week. The reason wasn’t so much the massive cash influx the newspaper will realize from selling off a bunch of battered desks and chairs as it was a part of the effort to get at least a section of the building cleaned out. (Note: Some Fort Worth Weekly staffers also work from home, mostly by choice and because they’d be stacked on top of one another if everyone tried to work from the Weekly office at the same time. But not because their desks got sold.)
The main Star-T building went on the block a couple of years ago, and another section of the complex, an annex that used to house the classified ads department, was sold in 2008 and torn down to make way for a parking lot.
In recent months the daily paper laid off another 20 people or so and moved its local news and business coverage, which used to have their own sections each day, into the paper’s front section on Mondays and Tuesdays. Meanwhile, more resources are being moved into the paper’s online product.
Online publications, it’s true, don’t require all those massive presses, messy barrels of ink, and gargantuan rolls of paper. But they still depend on actual human beings to gather the news, develop sources, cover the tiresome but important meetings, stay in touch with the community, and delve into all those dark places that crooks, bureaucrats and others wish they’d stay out of. Here’s to all the journalists, at the Star-T and elsewhere, who continue to fight that good fight. Even from home. Even without a desk.