Vg -41:11e1 ikatvaroo Cloud Ke it h Da nn e m il le r scrutiny. The cumulative effect was liberating for many in the close-knit, often repressive Hays County community, and Barton started winning friends. “We had a staff that called everything as they saw it, and much of what we were saying rang true. We’d roast our friends as well as our enemies, and we gained respect for that. I guess we took a few pot-shots against elitism, so we were sort of a populistic paper,” he says. Each time the paper came out in those years, says Barton, “once a week, the voice of sanity” prevailed in San Marcos. Simply by chronicling the actual concerns of the Mexican-American population, he recalls, the paper helped assuage the fears of whites; they began to see that browns “are not too much different than anybody else.” Chicano politicians endorsed by the paper, including three mayoral candidates, eventually were elected. If Barton was tough on the people of Hays County, he was also tough on his advertisers. He ran the Citizen the way more papers should be runwith an iron wall between the advertising department and the editorial staff. He became noted for his nonchalance when advertisers would pull their accounts because the paper had said something that offended their sensibilities. In fact, the paper had been known on occasion to run material intentionally to spite advertisers. Editors once picked through the trash bins for two ‘hours so they could run some discarded photographs of a wet T-shirt contest one advertiser had said he did not want to see in the paper. He threatened to pull his account if the photos ran. They did, and the account stayed put. But more often, the paper lost the showdown. Barton’s competitor in trade had always been the San Marcos Record, a 60-year-old family operation that had seen better days. Lack of interest among the younger Buckners who owned the paper brought on its demise. In the fall of 1975, the Worrell chain \(owner of 30 papurchased the Record and began drawing away the Citizen’s major advertisers. Local businessmen stuck by the Citizen, but the hard-won chainstore accountsSkillerns and HEBjumped to the Record. Regional advertising managers, Barton figures, prefer to deal with -the kindred sorts who represent regional newspaper chains. It’s a matter of “chains courtin’ chains,” he says. It’s also a matter of style. “We went to see them in a ’72 pickup, and Worrell went in their own jet plane,” explains Barton. With the handwriting on the wall after Worrell had tried twice before to buy him out, Barton accepted an offer of $375,000 in May this year. “It was a lucid moment of facing up to life as it is, instead of the way I’d like it to be,” the publisher says. “On most days the temptation wouldn’t have grabbed me.” Now he hopes to make a go of the Sun, in the same small-town way he’s always fought for. He’ll court local merchants, and try to offer “a community newspaper concerned with old-fashioned neighborhoods and new-fashioned individuals.” And no doubt he’ll continue to yield, as he has always, to the temptation of providing sound news and an outlet for dissent, to make another town and county more tolerant and open, helping people see that they can have more control over their lives. Jay Brakefield is a reporter for the San Antonio Express-News. Matthew Lyon is an Observer staff assistant who has written for The New York Times and the Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Relax, and take a break for lunch or dinner, and watch the river go by. The drinks arc ample, and the cheesecake is our own. We have sandwicKes to seafood, from 11:30 until 11:30 every day of the week; open till midnight in the Metro Center, San Antonio, Texas. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19 -.4
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