This morning is the dawn of a new day for the Amarillo Globe-News.
The offices have moved from 900 S. Harrison St., to the FirstBank Southwest Tower, formerly the Chase Tower. The 31-story structure, located at 600 S. Tyler St., is the tallest building in Amarillo and the West Texas region.
“As time moves on and the media industry changes with consolidation, we no longer have the need for a space the size of the Globe-News building,” said Robert Granfeldt, group publisher of the Amarillo Globe-News and the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. “Staying downtown was very important to us, and moving into the FirstBank Southwest building so close to our historic location is a huge plus.”
A rich history
The history of Amarillo newspapers spans more than a century. The modern-day Globe-News is the survivor of nearly three dozen publications that chronicled the city of Amarillo from its founding in 1887. The building at 900 S. Harrison St. was erected in 1949 and 1950.
Little-known papers such as the Amarillo Free Press and the Amarillo Champion wrote some accounts of Amarillo’s early years, but most had ceased publication by the time the Amarillo Daily News published its first edition on Nov. 4, 1909.
The Amarillo Daily News was spawned by the call for Prohibition. Three local businessmen bought The Evening American to voice their opinions and changed its name to The Amarillo Daily News. Dr. J.E. Nunn, a Baptist deacon, became involved in the business as an associate and ended up owning the entire paper, according to an essay by longtime Editor Wes Izzard. The paper’s aim: “To banish the licensed saloon and its attendant evils.”
The Daily News bought the Daily Panhandle and merged the two papers. An afternoon paper, The Tribune, was launched in 1920, but the Nunn family bought that publication in May 1922. Gene Howe, a newspaper editor from Kansas, announced plans for a new afternoon daily in Amarillo, The Amarillo Globe. The Nunns, meanwhile, launched The Amarillo Post in November 1923. Howe printed his first edition of the Amarillo Globe on Feb. 20, 1924.
Fierce competition forced Nunn and son Lindsay to sell the Post and the Daily News to Howe and Kansas investors in 1926. Howe formed the Globe-News Publishing Co., and he kept the Daily News as the morning edition and the Globe as the evening edition. The Post was discontinued.
The Amarillo Times, an afternoon paper, was created in 1937 by several Amarillo investors, but money problems quickly surfaced. Struggling with financial troubles, the Times borrowed money from the Whittenburgs, an Amarillo pioneer family. S.B. Whittenburg became general manager and co-publisher.
In 1951, the Globe-News and the Amarillo Times merged, with the Whittenburgs owning 35 percent of the Globe-News Publishing Co. The Globe and Times were combined into one afternoon edition. The Whittenburgs bought the majority of the new company in 1955.
On May 2, 1961, The Amarillo Globe-Times received the highest award in journalism, the Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for meritorious public service. The award recognized the newspaper’s work in helping to expose a breakdown in law enforcement in Amarillo that culminated in hearings of the Texas House Investigating Committee. In large measure, the award reflected the newspaper’s work in exposing matters involving former Randall County Judge Roy Joe Stevens.
The Morris family purchased the Amarillo Daily News and Amarillo Globe-Times from the Whittenburgs in 1972. The two newspapers merged in April 2001 to form the Amarillo Globe-News. The Morris family also invested in the Amarillo community, contributing $3 million to what ultimately became the Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S Buchanan St., which opened in 2006.
GateHouse Media purchased the newspaper last year. The sale, which was announced in August 2017, was finalized in October 2017.
GateHouse Media is a division of New Media Investment Group, a publicly traded company (NEWN) on the New York Stock Exchange. It is one of the largest newspaper companies in the country. As of August 2018, GateHouse publishes 145 daily newspapers, 340 community publications and more than 570 local market websites that reach more than 23 million people each week across the United States.
When Gatehouse purchased the newspaper from the Morris family, it did not buy the two Amarillo buildings, where the newspaper offices and the distribution center are located, Granfeldt said.
“Although we are proud of the historical significance of the Globe-News building on South Harrison, our employees are very excited to move to a new space, with a great view. Our operations here in Amarillo won’t change as we move to the FirstBank Southwest Tower. This is simply a new location.”
Lobby space, which will allow customers to have easy access to subscription payments, classified ads, legal ads and obituaries, will be a feature of the new location, Granfeldt said. All of the current phone numbers will remain the same.
The distribution center on Van Buren Street is also moving. A new distribution center, where carriers will pick up their papers for delivery, will be announced in the coming weeks, Granfeldt said. The Globe-News is printed in Lubbock with pages designed and sent from the GateHouse Center for News and Design in Austin to the regional printing plant in Lubbock. The company prints the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, The Amarillo Globe-News and the Odessa American in Lubbock (about 1.4 million copies a month), plus 18 commercial newspaper jobs.
A bright future
Beth Duke, executive director of Center City, worked at the Globe-News from 1975, when she started as a summer intern, until 2005, when she retired as city editor in 2005.
Duke said that both she and her husband Ralph, who also worked at the newspaper as a photographer, have fond memories of the Harrison Street building.
“I love our historic buildings downtown, but I especially love the Globe-News buildings because they hold so many memories for me,” Duke said. “The Harrison Street building was impressive, starting with the great quote over the door, ‘A newspaper may be forgiven for lack of wisdom but never for lack of courage.’ ” Duke said the Harrison Street building was a maze of hallways, tiny offices and photographic darkrooms.
She continued: “The enormous basement held giant rolls of newsprint - usually a six-week supply. When we gave tours to school children, we told them the rolls of newsprint if unrolled would reach from downtown to Wonderland Park. The pressroom had a two-story printing press that printed five editions every weekday when we had an afternoon paper. A few times, I pushed the button to 'stop the presses.'
Duke said the Harrison and Van Buren buildings are in a great location for redevelopment.
“With the opening of the West Texas A&M University Amarillo Center on Tyler Street, Center City is seeing more interest in the area west of Polk Street,” Duke said. “The WTAMU Amarillo Center will bring more students, faculty and staff to downtown. Tenth Avenue is a major corridor for downtown with lots of possibilities for retail, residential and offices. I know those historic buildings will have a great future.”
Belinda Mills, director of operations and advertising, said she also is excited about the move.
"The Amarillo Globe-News is a tremendous local icon, and we are very excited to be ushering it into a new chapter of our rich history. We are all very excited to be moving onward and upward,” she said. "Our dedicated staff will continue the commitment of excellence to our readers as well as our advertisers and community."
Regional Executive Editor of the Amarillo Globe-News and the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal Jill Nevels-Haun added: "It feels like an epic voyage, although it's a short journey.
"This move, which some have referred to as the dawn of a new day, is like a rebirth for the Globe-News. This is an exciting time as we continue to evolve and provide our audience with compelling, local content each day. We build on the strength of the rich history in this community. Bob Dylan put it best: ‘He not busy being born is busy dying.’ "