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dumpsite testing promised to bring to the Panhandle. But there is an attitude here that growth will solve problems, and only a positive civic outlook will bring new industry to a city as remote as Amarillo. Developers claim a newspaper filled with stories of college recruiting scandals, cost overruns on public building construction, recalls of public officials, and racism toward Hispanic farmworkers will scare people away. So when the Amarillo Globe -News ran major stories on exactly those issues, stories written by young reporters without a stake in the Panhandle future, stories about issues and institutions dear to Pickens, trouble was sure to follow. The problems began at a corporate Christmas party in 1986. At that party, Pickens asked his 400 employees to cancel their Globe -News subscriptions and begin reading USA Today, which Mesa would fly into town for limited special home delivery. Pickens was upset over the way his notorious takeover attempts were covered by his hometown newspaper. He was furious that Globe -News reports revealed embarrassing construction cost overruns on the million-dollar mansion built for the president of West Texas State University. The paper also exposed problems in the WTSU basketball program that are now the subject of an NCAA investigation. The owner of the Globe -News, Bill Morris of Augusta, Georgia, flew to Amarillo amidst the tempest for face-to-face talks with Pickens. The meeting quickly turned into a shouting match and only through the shuttle diplomacy of local feedlot owner Paul Engler did the two proud entrepreneurs reach a truce. Pickens never delivered the cancellation forms he had collected from Mesa employees. Morris reportedly agreed to find a new general manager for the Amarillo Globe -News by the end of the summer of 1987. During this first round in the fight, Pickens denied rumors that he tried to organize an advertising boycott of the Globe -News. Pickens did admit to private meetings with business leaders and said he would drop his anti-newspaper campaign if it didn’t catch on as a mass movement. It didn’t. THINGS WERE QUIET on the GlobeNews front until late October when the paper published a 38-article, 8 day series on racial unrest in Hereford, in neighboring Deaf Smith County. The paper spent six months investigating a roundup of Hispanic drug users and a local criminal justice system dominated by a district attorney whose ethics are constantly under question. The coverage also explored the controversy over where to build a new migrant labor housing camp and the growing success of Hispanic political candidates. Racism in Hereford is hardly a new topic, but the newspaper’s critics claim the October series was both overkill and stale news. The Globe -News was in hot water again. “We’ve been seriously damaged and we’re not going to sit by and let it happen without responding.” said Deaf Smith County Chamber of Commerce President Mike Bowles. They asked for Pickens’s help. Within days, “I Cancelled!” bumperstickers and antinewspaper buttons began showing up. Pickens remained behind the scenes this time, except for a few interviews with visiting journalists and a speech at a breakfast banquet of local bankers. Engler, who had watched the enmity build between Pickens and Morris last winter, stepped to the forefront as chairman and chief financial backer of Panhandle Citizens for a Better Amarillo Newspaper. The community support that didn’t jell for Pickens in 1986 did form for him and Engler in 1987. More than 70 local leaders, including Hereford’s mayor, an Amarillo city commissioner, and members of the Amarillo family that sold the Globe -News to Morris in 1972 were listed on the letterhead of the new antinewspaper group. The rally at the Amarillo Civic Center attracted about 1500 people, including many Mesa employees. The crowd sang the National Anthem and watched a Hereford choir perform “Let Freedom Ring.” The rallying cry for the evening was “We deserve better!” Ironically, the anti-newspaper group passed out literature in press packets that suggested that Amarillo really can’t do better and already has a pro-business newspaper in the GlobeNews. For years, the paper has used Chamber of Commerce development logos on its front page. Morris newspapers, including the Globe -News, had been described as little more than a “flaccid, unimaginative means to sell advertising” in a Jacksonville Today article titled “Newspapers as a Cash Crop.” Once the Globe -News broke its blackout on coverage of the fight with local boosters, letters to the editor poured in and the paper added an extra op-ed page for seven days to publish them. Most of the letters that were printed supported the newspaper over its critics. “The self-styled leaders of Panhandle Citizens are contradictory to the point of absurdity,” wrote Johnny Hathcock. “While prattling about ‘positive’ reporting, they launch a viciously negative attempt to create financial difficulty for the paper. They yammer about the need for local ownership, then undertake activities which, if successful, could reduce the value and prestige of the paper to a point where only an idiot would buy it.” Broadcast personality Ben Boyett took a satirical look at what he called the Committee Against Negative Tone: “CANT knew the people in Amarillo were not smart enough to judge between negative news and positive news. So, the committee voted to ban negative news,” Boyett wrote in an article in which a father explains to his son in the year 2000 why there haven’t been any fires, robberies, rapes, murders, crop failures, or dust storms since 1987. Among the letters to the editor could be found some of the most vibrant writing the Globe -News has printed in years. As public support for the newspaper developed, it became clear that the antinewspaper coalition wasn’t going to win every battle in its war with Morris. The most important defeat came at the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce. “The Chamber of Commerce deeply resents being put in the position of being for or against either of the parties,” said president Bert Ballangee. “With the conciliatory attitude of the newspaper, we strongly support the proposition that the two parties come together and resolve their differences.” The chamber vote was a surprise, since many of the people listed on the antinewspaper group’s letterhead are also chamber board members and supporting the boycott was seen by some as a test of loyalty to Pickens. Only one board member voted to support the newspaper boycott. And the Tuesday advertising boycott lasted only one week and was but a limited success. “It’s sure a pretty skinny paper this morning,” Gilliland told the Chicago Tribune’s reporter. “You’d have a hard time starting a fire with it.” But most advertisers simply moved their business to another day. As a symbolic move. the boycott showed strong support for change at the Globe News. As a pressure tactic, it didn’t much hurt the paper. Through all of this, the accuracy of the Globe -News’s controversial reports was never questioned. And every story that got the Globe -News in trouble was widely reported by every other media outlet in town with little reaction. “I think this will be judged by history as a First Amendment situation,” said Garet von Netzer, Globe -News executive editor. “What they’re not seeing is that they in fact are advocating supression of their own rights to be informed.” Engraved in stone above the entrance to the newspaper are 15 brave words: “A newspaper may be forgiven for lack of wisdom but never for lack of courage.” That motto will continue to be put to the test, since the current truce seems only as stable as the one before it. It will be a matter of time before the Globe -News uncovers something else that Pickens or some other prominent business person would prefer to keep quiet. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9