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Gayle Reaves

Pardon me while I catch my breath. I’ve never been let go from a job before.

I suppose it’s something just to be able to say that, after 40-plus years in an industry as volatile as journalism. Gaining new experiences has always been one of the joys of practicing this craft that I love so much. Thus far, this particular new experience ranks somewhere below, say, interviewing terrorists, riding in planes with former drug runners, or finding out you and your teammates have won a Pulitzer Prize.

Publisher Lee Newquist told me the news a few days ago. He said that, given the changes that are taking place in our business, it’s time that I part company with Fort Worth Weekly. He’s not mad at me, he said, and he appreciates the work I’ve done over the last 14 years in our little hard-scrabble, scraped-knuckles shop. It’s just time for a change.

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He hasn’t told me yet what that means for the paper, beyond my departure. That will be for him and my successor to say. I may continue to write for the Weekly from time to time.

But I can tell you it’s been a great ride for me and, I hope, for our readers.

Before I came to the Weekly in 2001, I had almost always worked for daily papers. My only prior experience with non-dailies had been my second job out of college, with the scrappy Austin Citizen, now many years defunct. I found the same thing to be true at the Citizen as I would find many years later at the Weekly: that while your employer might not have anywhere near the resources of the big boys, the satisfaction — in telling stories that need to be told and being an integral part of making democracy and communities work — is every bit as great.

In the last decade and a half, the news industry has indeed gone through major upheavals. Many newspapers and magazines have folded; others have made repeated staff reductions and cut back on all sorts of coverage. During that time, I believe, our paper and other alternative news weeklies around the country have become more important than ever in reporting on critical issues for our country and the whole globe.

I’m very proud of the work we’ve done at the Weekly during my tenure. We were one of the first news organizations in the country to begin to explore the downside of shale gas development. Our reporters — including the late, inimitable Betty Brink — exposed corruption in the school district and at city hall, helped bring down sexual predators, shone a light on questionable spending and governance in places like the Tarrant Regional Water District and Tarrant County College, and described the horrors at the women’s medical center and prison camp at the Carswell military base. On so many occasions, we gave a voice to those who had struck out in the halls of power and with other news organizations. And we told some damn good tales, from Jeff Prince explaining how Willie Nelson shaped his world to Karen Gavis bringing readers the gripping story of a young Texan and his bride dealing with the onslaught of Ebola in Sierra Leone.

You can see from all this that I’m old school — the importance of a free press is kind of my religion, whether the news is delivered and promoted on newsprint or slick paper, by broadcast, podcast, or social media. Those things change, and we try to change with them. The need for what we do doesn’t change.

Which brings me back to Lee Newquist. He and I are very different. But through the years, Lee has kept the Weekly’s doors open and allowed those of us on the news side, with very few exceptions, to make the decisions about what needed covering and how to cover it.

It’s been my privilege to work with some wonderful people, including not only great reporters and other staffers at the paper, but talented freelancers, world-beating interns, and gutsy sources. In other words, people who were courageous, dogged, and cared deeply about things like justice, equality, human rights, honest government, and our shared future.

Thank you all.

58 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you, Gayle. You were the toughest, and best, editor with whom I’ve ever worked. You pushed when I pulled, you fought me sometimes and you demanded excellence and got it from me and all of us. Under your rule, we helped make some important changes that extend far past the boundaries of Fort Worth. It was my pleasure to work for you.

  2. WOW. I don’t exactly know what Lee is thinking about this departure of an AMAZING editor, that has won this paper and it’s writing staff numerous awards.
    As usual, horrible decision making by the publishers of this paper to “let go” their most dedicated employees that bring the best out in this paper. Good luck FWW- bad move.

  3. It’s been a great pleasure to know Gayle as an editor and a friend. I’m glad that I will still know her as a friend and will always count her as one of my most influential mentors. I’m sure there are many writers/reporters out there who have been shaped positively by her. I can’t wait to hear about the next chapter of your career.

  4. I has been an outright honor working with a person and a journalist of your distinction for the past decade. You have given me many reasons to be proud of the job I do over the years and I thank you. Much respect.

  5. Thank you for giving me a chance to write for you, it has been an honor and a great experience. You’ve taught me a lot and I appreciate it greatly. I hope whatever the future holds will bring you great happiness. Thank you Gayle, the Weekly won’t be the same without you!

  6. Wow. Gayle, you were the first person to take a chance on my work, and I am indebted to you. thanks for rattling the cages. -JMR

  7. Thank you from the Brink family for everything you did with and for Mom (Betty) during her years at the Weekly. Those were some of the happiest days of her life. I hope you have great adventures ahead!

  8. Sorry to see the finest editor I ever worked with go. It makes a huge difference not just to our output as writers and reporters, but also to the communities that learn about things that lesser editors do not think to push for or want to report. Gayle’s absence at the Weekly will be a tragic loss for all the engaged people of Texas and the many, many writers whose efforts were dramatically improved by her confident guidance. And yes, I am imagining her redlines on this paragraph as I type it and trying to write around them…

  9. This is a huge loss for Fort Worth. Thanks for always focusing on the mission of top-quality journalism and the media’s role as government watchdog, Gayle.

  10. I wish I was a fly on the wall in your publisher’s office. Just to figure out the big question “Why?”

    You are one of the best journalists in the country.
    A superb manager who made the Weekly’s reporters better storytellers.
    A veteran professional with a devotion to journalism and helping others come up the ranks.

    The FW Weekly is a must read today for many in Fort Worth, because YOU knew what readers wanted. You knew what stories they wanted to flushed out. You investigated stories that others in the media would not touch or devote time to. You knew the FW Weekly could pursue the truth and did not allow obstacles to get in the way.

    I feel bad for you and your readers, because the paper is about to change.

    But remember, your publisher took away a job, NOT your passion for journalism. Good luck my friend!

  11. I am shocked and saddened. What a loss for the FW Weekly and Fort Worth. Gayle, thanks for your contribution as a fantastic journalist and human being. We will miss you…

  12. I am shocked and saddened. What a loss for the FW Weekly and Fort Worth. Gayle, thanks for your contribution as a fantastic journalist and human being. We will miss you.

  13. Hello Dear Lady–I have not had the pleasure of meeting and knowing U I have missed a lot but I want to thank U because U must have had a hand in the wonderful story Jeff Prince did on Ema’s Enterprises in May of 2014, an entertainment agency for 45 years. The article absolutely changed my life. AT 85 years of age i had decided to sit in the swing and day dream, still loving what I had done for years. Jeff called, came out read through boxes of pictures and articles and did the story. No one will ever know what that did for me, a walk down memory lane and a chance to do it all over again. Went back to work and once again living a full and busy life. This is an incredible opportunity for me here at the end of my road of life, not many Gal’s get that kind of a chance. My sincerest thanks goes out to U and the staff for that wonderful opportunity. May GOD bless U in your new adventures.

  14. Gayle, during your stewardship I have gone from being afraid of The Weekly to being a frequent praiser. Don’t always agree with your writers, but do believe they do a professional job. Have enjoyed especially the wonderful insights and reporting on the painting arts in Fort Worth provided by Jeff Prince. Wish you much success in the next leg of your journey. A regular reader, Morris Matson

  15. Gayle, you set the bar high; perhaps never higher than today. Any woman who writes owes you a debt, friend, whether they know you or not. I hope this is the door to something spectacular.

  16. Tragic. Just tragic. I am sorry for your bad day Gayle. I do hope you do not become a stranger. You are an inspiring woman.

  17. Tragic. Just tragic. I am sorry for your bad day Gayle. I do hope you do not become a stranger. You are an inspiring woman.
    bitty

  18. A difficult standard to follow, much less match or exceed. All thanks to G.R. for a long stretch of exacting honesty in journalism.

  19. I’m stunned and sad. The FW Weekly has been an important resource nationally, especially in all matters to do with the Shale Boom. This is tragic news for the Weekly but I can’t wait to see what is next for Gayle.

  20. A sad loss not only for Fort Worth, but Texas. The Weekly will just not be the same without you. Thank you for all that you’ve done to make the Weekly-and all of us fighting for life and rights in the gas fields-relevant. Look forward to seeing what’s next for you.

  21. I can’t understand this, it doesn’t make sense! Thank you Gayle for all that you did for the Weekly all these years. Mom (Betty Brink) definitely has an opinion, I just wish she could share it right now! Take care!

  22. Gayle, as you know, sometimes I’m not that good with words. But I am thinking about you and lots of good journalism times when we were standing near each other.

  23. Just found out this evening. Very sad – and worrisome. We’ve known each other since we were both much, much younger. I think the first time I met you in person was at a forum at the old Public House when we were both deep into Comanche Peak. I was mad about the coverage. You’ve made up for it since. No one person was more needed or necessary in FW journalism over the past decade and a half. As the Daily paper shrunk in stature, the Weekly rose. When gas money washed-in and warped every other cultural institution in Ft. Worth, the Weekly just put all the desks up on blocks and kept going, untainted and undaunted. You gave my good friend Betty Brink a forum to become an award winning investigative reporter when others in your position would have only seen a grandmother past her prime. You always took folks like me serious when we came in to pitch a new outrage we’d found. We need more of you, not less. Damn.

  24. Gayle is a class act and a hell of a journalist — just ask those of us who knew her work at the Dallas Morning News. This is a terrible loss for Fort Worth readers.

  25. Unbelievable. Thanks for taking a chance on me, Gayle. Having the opportunity to work with you was such a valuable experience. Not only did you help me improve my writing, but you are a walking textbook of patience, humility and guts. I wish you the best!

  26. I am incredibly touched by all your comments. I’m so glad that, together, we were able to do journalism that mattered. Further adventures await.

    • Gayle, You are such an inspiration to so many. I never set out to become an ad rep but somehow working at the Weekly just fit and I have always had the consolation that I contribute to a fine product with journalistic integrity that is hard to find anywhere anymore. Once again, I just want to thank you for your role in that. You are a star and you will shine wherever you are!

    • Gayle, You are deeply loved by all those who had the pleasure of knowing and working with you. Please let us know where you will be next. Those of us, me included, respected your ability and bravery to speak “truth to power” in this little provincial town that has grown to a big provincial town, Fort Worth, Texas, growing the FWW from local to national readership. While you haven’t disclosed your next assignment….and I hope you will eventually disclose this…..I owe you a deep gratitude for exposing the truth on many issues from Betty’s work on the Carswell women’s prison to the scandal at AHHS and FWISD and fracking the environment here. Your integrity is beyond reproach.

      Now when and where is your FAREWELL party? I’m sure all of the above “posters” — me included — want to give you the proper send off. After your years of service this is the least we can do to show our appreciation. You have cast a large shadow which your successor will find hard to fill.

  27. Gayle, you made a lasting impression on me when I started at the DMN 25 years ago — for your important work and for extending a helping hand to me and others who were just coming up in the business. Cheers for the old school, and best of luck in your next adventure.

  28. Thanks for taking a chance on me! You were always a real pleasure to work with. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors. I hope to see your poetry in more magazines, too. Take care.

  29. Wow! I’m shocked and saddened. You’re a deep and important part of what has made Fort Worth home for us. We moved here about 4 years ago from Austin. Immediately we felt a gapping hole of political reportage and cultural debate, and just basic local news. We missed our Austin Chronicle! Finally we found you, and found that intelligent reporting and writing were to be found in Fort Worth, finally we felt we were home. Now we’re losing you?! Oh dear! Thank you so much for your intelligence, your hard work, your creative eye and your years of service. You have enhanced our lives immeasurably. We will miss you.

  30. Great editor; great journalist; great person: What am I missing? Oh, that’s right — it’s what they’re gonna be missing without you. 🙁 Sorry to see this. You are an unbelievably great combo who can pull anything upward and a solid, steady influence for good. Your JAWS sisters are sharing a lot of love for you on the listserv today, too. I feel very lucky to have gotten to work with you, however briefly. I look forward to your next unqualified success…

  31. I am saddened from a selfish standpoint, but excited about where you might land. Life is a journey. Best wishes to you and your new path. Seasons come and go. You’ll be fine and will continue to do great work where ever your passion takes you.

  32. Gayle Reaves — I am a better person, writer and human being for ever having worked a day with you. In my eyes, you are an inspiration. You are a watchdog. You are a mentor.

    I will never forget my days at Fort Worth Weekly out of journalism school at TCU. I will never forget your first day at Fort Worth Weekly too. I am truly honored to have learned, worked and shared a newsroom with you too.

    “You must be the change you seek…”
    Your life and work are an awesome example of that Gayle.

    Cherish every moment and memory.
    At this age and stage, you are even more AMAZING.

    Go get em Gayle.
    Write a few books.
    I would read them.

  33. Wow you should come to Albuquerque and actually make our weekly a real paper, Gayle. I can’t believe someone would be so cavalier to let talent like you get away. I can only hope they’ll come to regret that, that they will have the kind of brains to understand who they are losing and how rare you are. You have been an inspiration to me for years through through the Journalism & Women Symposium, and to many women journalists around the country.
    I know you will land on your feet and I look forward to even greater things from you, but this is a loss to your city and to your paper.

  34. Really, where will we go for news now? I’d given up on the “biggies” some time ago…you were our last hope for any real news.

    May the next part of your journey take you to a place where you’ll shine even more because getting any kind of local news here in Fort Worth dimmed March 18. We’ll miss you! And God help us all…

  35. What a testament these comments are to your professionalism, class and integrity. Not only did all the above respect you as a journalist but as the wonderful person you are. Your willingness to encourage and coach others along the way was icing on the cake. You are a true inspiration, willing to fight the good fight, and change the world, one story at a time. The Weekly will never be the same, but we know you are on to bigger and better things.

  36. Gayle. Thank you so much for all you have done for us over the years. You’re one class act! The Weekly won’t be the same without you. I wish you all the best. A big loss for Fort Worth!

  37. Why do I get the feeling it’s all down-hill from here on for the Weekly? Just to become another shallow Infotainment rag, where profit is the prime motive? This bad idea is one more reminder that real journalism and real journalists everywhere–especially the kind that speak truth to power–are vulnerable and always seem to be working on borrowed time. I feel so honored that you saw fit to publish my short essays now and then, which made me feel a bit like I was “getting away with something.” Well, I suspect the country around here will be a little safer now for the likes of Chesapeake, for bad cops, thuggish prison guards, and corrupt politicos in the halls of power. Too bad. But best of luck, Gayle Reaves.

  38. Thank you, Gayle, for making the FW Weekly a good read. I worked in downtown Fort Worth for more than twenty years and often read the Weekly over lunch. It never was much of a newspaper until you became its editor. You turned it into a vital part of Fort Worth culture. I was deeply touched by the in-depth stories by Betty Brink, Jeff Prince and other writers. It was so obvious that you supported their efforts by the quality of the reporting and the sometimes adversarial nature of the stories. Bravo!

  39. It’s a hoot to see FWW writers patting yourselves on your backs for stellar journalism. In a past issue, a commenter opined that there are two inquiries before FWW engages a writer: (1) Can you write? (2) Are you a Democrat? FWW does a fine job of spewing Democrat talking-points, but whether it’s journalism is a matter of opinion. Here are some examples:

    In “Bad Air Day” 10/1/14, FWW writer Peter Gorman wrote about a natural gas plant near Delga Park. Gorman cited scientific data supporting his claim that the plant is poisoning the neighborhood. He added that after two hours there, he had a searing throat, watery eyes, and his breathing became so difficult that he had to leave. To replicate his experience, I spent two hours there myself one Sunday morning, doubting that I’d be hauled out on a gurney. I wasn’t. When a writer injects himself into a story, an otherwise good story may suffer if the writer’s personal embellishments are dubious. Ask Brian Williams.

    In “Watchdogging Civil Rights” 2/4/15, FWW writer Edward Brown wrote about Tarrant Civil Rights Project, whose attorney filed a civil rights suit against a local hospital when it did not provide an interpreter for deaf patients. I commented that if an ambulance-chaser can sue for this, it’s no wonder health-care costs escalate. Brown replied that the plaintiffs weren’t suing for money, so “ambulance-chaser” didn’t apply. I located the lawsuit, read the plaintiffs’ petition, and told Brown that the plaintiffs did sue for money, citing the case number. Brown’s reply? He said he would check with TCRP’s attorney. Here’s the problem: The plaintiffs’ petition was a primary source about what they were suing for, not what their attorney might have said. You call that journalism?

    In “Republicans, We Hardly Know Ye” 12/17/14, FWW writer Frank Matthews replied to every critic by calling them stupid, uneducated, childish, etc. Then he quipped: “Most columnists will tell that normally only the crazies respond,” which is at best a tactless comment, given that he was writing in a column where reader comments are invited. You call that journalism?

    In “Not So Revolutionary” 8/6/14, FWW writer Grayson Harper mentioned that most Detroit water customers whose water meters were turned off for nonpayment are black, as if racism were involved. But Detroit is 82% black – 82% of shut-offs ought to be black homes. By omitting this critical fact, Harper hinted at racism where there is none. That’s journalism?

    As for hypocrisy, in “Political Theater” 7/3/13, Static chastised a website created solely to mock Wendy Davis, because it criticized her “in the most superficial way possible: by scrutinizing her looks.” But hardly a week passes without a FWW writer referring to Gov. Rick Perry as “Good Hair”.

    FWW is suffering from MSNBCitis, and unless there’s a change to the business model, the near future looks bleak. The public has had a heavy dose of extreme liberalism and decided they don’t want it.

    • The last example you used was from Static, an opinion column by staff, and the previous two were taken from columns written by freelance opinion writers. Those columns are not considered news stories.

      You criticize Peter Gorman for including in his news story that his senses were overwhelmed by odors from a nearby plant. That’s a valid point to put in a story about odors coming from a plant. Others have complained about the same thing, which is why he was there to begin with. The fact you didn’t have the same problem when visiting the plant that one day doesn’t make Gorman or the others out to be liars, and doesn’t support your premise that it’s shoddy journalism.

      As for the situation involving Edward Brown’s story, I don’t know whether or not he got a fact wrong in his story, but it sounds like you brought it to his attention and he responded he’d look into it further.

    • Stoutimore, the lawyer you criticized in my story is working for NTCRP through a pro bono outreach program of her law firm. If you want to accuse her of trying to make money on her charity work then back up your anonymous comments. And you are criticizing my comment from an old story, not the story itself. If you think something was inaccurate in the printed story then point that out, but don’t point to a comment I made under it as “shoddy journalism.” We never wrote about the specific on goings of that case because the story was much broader than that, but I don’t like cowardly commentators who make accusations about award-winning civil rights lawyers while hiding behind a computer screen.

      • Edward Brown, you’re being flaky now, because you deliberately characterize my comments (“Watchdogging Civil Rights” 2/4/15) as though I criticized the “award winning civil-rights lawyer” in the story, when my criticism was clearly directed toward YOU. I began with the comment:

        A hospital violates the civil rights of a deaf patient if it doesn’t provide an ASL interpreter? No wonder health-care costs are out of sight. Everyone sympathizes with the deaf, but calling this a “civil right” that an ambulance-chaser can sue for is ridiculous.

        Your reply: TCRP IS NOT SUING FOR MONEY so the ambulance chaser analogy doesn’t fit.

        I replied that the plaintiffs in the lawsuit sought compensatory relief and attorney’s fees. The complaint says: “Mr. ___ and Ms. ___ seek compensatory relief for the anguish they suffered . . . and . . . costs, expenses and reasonable and necessary attorney’s fees.” THEY SUED FOR MONEY. So why did you say that they didn’t?

        Now you say that the “award-winning civil rights lawyer” worked pro bono. But in my comments, I conceded that the plaintiffs’ attorneys (there were more than one, you know) probably worked pro bono, but that means only that they didn’t charge the CLIENTS; which is different from your claim that “TCRP IS NOT SUING FOR MONEY.”

        Now you say that I shouldn’t consider your claim: “TCRP IS NOT SUING FOR MONEY” as shoddy journalism, since it wasn’t part of your original story. I’ll simply disagree with you on that. If I were a gambler, I would bet that you’ve learned by now that your “TCRP IS NOT SUING FOR MONEY” comment was wrong. – You were going to check on it, remember? – but you’re not honest enough to man up about it.

        • A lady I know that works at the StartleGram told me you were canned and are now sweeping up at the bus station. What’s the deal on that? Hero like you should be able to keep a job even at that lousy StartleGram. Are you getting food stamps? Startlegram is a high-dollar paying outfit isn’t it…for heros such as you? What’s going to become of them now? I expect they’re sunk after running you off. Are you getting Unemployment Checks? Are you still chairing the Tea-Bagger meetings? Your breath still stink? You getting a government check? Can you spell Tea-Bagging jerk-off?

    • Stoutimore – what will you have to complain about if the publisher defangs FW Weekly? I supposed you could keep trying to be a caller on the RLS.

  40. We Tarrant County residents were so fortunate to have you as the #1 newspaper editor in the county all these years. The work your folks produced was extraordinary. Thank you for your leadership and also for your work leading our local Society of Professional Journalists chapter, too.

  41. Woe to the publisher. If the future of the FW Weekly is sniveling toothlessly to make a few extra shekels, it will sink like a stone. If you’re not bringing some one in who dares to speak truth to power as often as Gayle, shutter the enterprise. Don’t waste our time.

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