This weekend marks a special occasion for me and my time involved in the publication of this newspaper. Exactly eight years ago, I was introduced to the staff at The Leader as the new owner and publisher. (The staff, I might add, all appeared to look for the closest exit, and who could blame them?) Numerous parts of this job have proven gratifying. For starters, I have never worked at a single place for eight consecutive years in my professional life – such is the journey of a journalist. I also have no children who are eight years old, which means I’ve cared for The Leader longer than any of the minions mumbling around my house. From a professional standpoint, this position has introduced me to some wonderful friends and colleagues, and I’m obviously proud of the work we’ve done in … [Read more...] about Let’s spend a summer laughing together
“It's not for looks. We're willing to die." -- J.P. Campbell, armed with a shotgun, as he and other similarly-armed men staged a protest against COVID-19 restrictions outside a tattoo parlor in Shepherd, north of Houston. Texans have been willing to die for all sorts of things over the years, but willing to die to uphold your God-given right to go unmasked into a tattoo parlor in a small East Texas town hits me as overkill. OK, bad choice of words. Moving on, two of the top Facebook posts accusing Democratic backer George Soros of financing rioters were from Texas’ Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, an outspoken supporter of President Trump. “I have no doubt in my mind that George Soros is funding these so-called ‘spontaneous’ protests,” Miller wrote in one of the posts. “Soros is … [Read more...] about Ashby: Away all quotes!
Almost eight years ago, exactly, I sat down with our rather small staff at The Leader and told them about an idea I wanted to try at our newspaper. For exactly 57 years, The Leader had survived by asking local businesses to use the paper as a means for marketing. That was our entire business model, and it was fading – fast. Over the past decade, the ways businesses advertise has changed drastically, and in order for us to survive, we needed our readers to help support the mission and the purpose of locally relevant journalism. So in 2012, with basically nothing to lose, we announced a program called Voluntary Pay, where we asked our readers to consider supporting our newspaper through a contribution, no matter what size. Taking a leap and asking for money was seen by many as a … [Read more...] about Thank you for the letters and support
THE MAIL – Once again I am going through the mail looking for…uh-oh. Here it is: The most dreaded envelope of all: the monthly credit card bill from House O’ Cards. It is by far the largest bill I get except for those from Vito the Enforcer & Co. Let’s see what I rang up last month. Tito Vodka, Bud Breweries and the Cheap Cigar Shop. Four of the items listed, two for $5.41 and two for $27.01, are small amounts, but I don’t recall those purchases. You no doubt have curiosities on your credit card. Some odd item from Vermont or a meaningless name like “Op Tox, Inc.” You finally call the phone number listed, and a voice answers, “Whips R Us” and then you recall that on-line purchase from that kinky club you joined. But this time there is no phone number or anything else to jog your … [Read more...] about The wild card
The temptation for every social commentator across the world, right now, is to add a personal perspective to the imperative socio-political conversations of the day. Every journalist, every national pundit, every basement blogger has slumped over a keyboard just like mine, thumbing through a thesaurus and a thousand personal memories in search of the perfect line that weaves through the endless waves of media, desperate for a million shares. I don’t have the mind, the experience or, honestly, the depth to contribute to the national debate. My job has always been to speak to the people who pick up our newspapers and share perspectives that have relevance, locally, to our lives. But as our nation has important conversations on race, and while we work to understand a pandemic’s … [Read more...] about Financial stress ruined national media