Stevens: The News heads for the future

They’re married.

The Clovis News Journal, 87, and Portales News-Tribune, 59, made it official this morning.

They’ve been getting along for years anyway, sharing staff, sharing stories, sharing the comics pages. The websites are one now, and so are the Facebook pages. And in a show of mutual respect, they’ve both changed their names to The Eastern New Mexico News.

Publisher Rob Langrell summarized the union in making the announcement  last week:

“While the name of the papers will change, our commitment to cover Curry and Roosevelt counties and surrounding communities will only get stronger. Instead of stretching our staffs thin, we’re becoming more efficient and striving to produce a better and more in-depth editorial product.”

David Stevens

David Stevens

It’s a wedding announcement; not an obituary. And it’s not unusual as time marches on and newspapers evolve.

Here’s the evidence:

• The Portales News-Tribune was born in 1957, the offspring of the Portales Valley News, which first published on Nov. 1, 1913, and the Portales Journal, which lasted a couple of decades before it became the Portales Daily News by 1935.

The Clovis News Journal was born the Clovis Evening News-Journal in 1929. Its parents were the Clovis News, first published in 1907, and the Clovis Journal, founded in 1909.

The first newspaper in Roosevelt or Curry counties was The Progress, which began publication on Aug. 1, 1901, in Portales. It didn’t have any direct connection to the paper today, beyond signifying the need for news on the High Plains is more than 115 years old.

A few more tidbits about the past as The News heads for the future:

• The Clovis News founder was Arthur Curren, who started multiple papers around the region as the railroad moved west and people came in search of adventure.

Curren printed the paper himself, on a foot-powered press.

The town’s first newspaper office — actually a tent — was at 113 W. Grand, close to Dolly Yossett’s restaurant and Doc Jenkins’ saloon. A funeral home soon followed, and that’s about all you need to make a town.

• The primary Portales paper was owned by some combination of Greaves and Stinnett family members from 1920 through 1981, when it was sold to Southern Newspapers Inc., of Houston.

Both of those families still live around here.

Scot Stinnett publishes the De Baca County News in Fort Sumner.

• Both papers’ editorial pages had a history of weighing in on hot news topics, with sometimes interesting results.

In the early 1900s, a Portales Herald delivery man named Buck Dobbs was enraged by the paper’s editorial position established by its owner, a Democrat-leaning Baptist preacher.

So Dobbs offered his own editorial statement — he hid all of the papers under a platform at the railroad depot so nobody could read them.

• Both papers’ names were hyphenated, at least for a while.

The Clovis Journal merged with its competitor, The Clovis News, to become the Clovis Evening News-Journal.

The Evening went away as the paper began publishing in the early afternoon, but it remained the News-Journal until 1990.

That’s when Publisher Bill Salter declared the paper was “not a hyphenated entity that can’t decide whether it wants to be a News or a Journal.”

And so it changed. Kinda like it did today. To find out what happens next … keep reading.

David Stevens is editor for Clovis Media Inc., which includes The Eastern New Mexico News. Contact him at:
dstevens@pntonline.com