Today’s news is tomorrow’s history. The Victoria Advocate has been recording history for 175 years and it continues.
But it’s more than that, much more. To me, it is a family business and mission-driven with a commitment to community journalism. That means local focus. Local involvement. Local issues. Local solutions. Local stories. Sharing experiences with colleagues and engaging with many folks throughout our region has been special.
The Roberts/McHaney family has been served well with a solid foundation of my father Morris Roberts. He was editor of the Baylor Lariat, the college newspaper, a businessman and state representative and senator, the Advocate’s Editor and Publisher and finally chairman-of-the- board. He managed the Advocate for a local ownership group, including himself, from 1942 until 1961 when he purchased all of the stock.
I remember my father saying that “community service is important.” And our family often has that discussion at meetings. We reinforce ourselves to ensure that we serve communities through local professionally—written journalism.
A quote from Leo Lerner, founder of a newspaper chain some years ago near Chicago, speaks to me and what it is all about in reporting on communities. During World War II, he said to his staﬀ that, “A fistfight on Clark Street is more important to our readers than a war in Europe.”
It is truer today than when Lerner made his statement. Through 24/7 TV news channels, the internet, smartphones and social media reaches audiences about the larger world and more.
The 20th Century newspaper is a diﬀerent animal than today and the Advocate is no diﬀerent. The same mission goal is still there. We hold public oﬃcials and civic institutions accountable and to help people understand decisions being made in our communities. We tell stories about our neighbors that we don’t even know and give a platform where people can have a voice.
We’re not a newspaper anymore. We are a news organization. With challenges facing newspapers it has been tough. But the outlook is good for the Advocate. It is now part of a larger media group of five other newspapers in East Texas and a full-service digital agency. This is still part of the our family under the banner of M. Roberts Media. Those other newspapers are Tyler Morning Telegraph, Longview News-Journal, The Marshall News Messenger, The Panola Watchman and Kilgore News Herald. Our organization has gained scale by adding these properties and has provided financial stability and eﬃciency.
As consumers (readers) change their habits and preferences, we adapt as well to meet their needs. More than half of our subscribers are digitally active. While that area is growing, we just can’t predict how readers will consume news and information 10 years and beyond. But whatever the future holds, the Advocate will be there to deliver.