Lubbock Lights is back.
We didn’t go anywhere – we just got to a point where we published very rarely.
Five years later we’re launching a local news website taking things we learned from our earlier iteration.
Lubbock Lights was originally a website for conservative opinion and commentary. And by conservative opinion and commentary I mean everything from the middle to the far right.
But we did some other stories. Such as (and these were written two years or more ago):
- What’s the story behind the Red Feather Golf and Social Club being built in southwest Lubbock with a buy-in much higher than any other private golf club in town. Could it work?
- Who are some of the people behind the growing barbecue joints in town?
- How Lubbock Police got a watch list before a pro-life march.
- Cameron West opening Dirk’s to honor his grandfather.
- Finn Walter returning to his hometown to open The Nicolett, after experience working in high-end restaurants, to define “High Plains Cuisine.”
- Questioning serious problems with Lubbock County constables.
Statistics showed these were well read.
Here’s what we learned.
The Avalanche-Journal – and most newspapers in America – don’t have the resources it used to have due to problems with transitioning from its traditional business model. TV stations don’t have 15-20 minutes to tell a story.
That said, the A-J and our local TV stations do a good job of covering the day-to-day news – and more within their resources. I have many friends in local media I have great respect for.
Reborn Lubbock Lights will focus on two things as we expand our mission and resources:
- Telling some stories in depth.
- Covering more lifestyle stories. Newspapers used to have an entire feature department to cover food, drink, restaurants, health, pets, faith, music and more.
We want to do things other local media doesn’t do. Will there be some overlap? Sure … but you won’t see us covering city government week in and week out. We won’t be checking the police department every day. We won’t cover sports like local media does – but we may occasionally have a sports-related story – like the one we did about the 50th anniversary of the Roosevelt High football team’s epic 1971 season.
And if we hear something we think is important, we’ll break news.
But we don’t see ourselves as competition for the newspaper or TV stations.
Following a model set by the Texas Tribune website, we’ll offer our content to local media for no charge.
The reborn Lubbock Lights is also something else – a 501C3 nonprofit.
We’ve removed all opinion content from the existing site. If you go to the website, you’ll see some old articles, mostly lighthearted pieces I wrote that will soon be replaced by new stories.
We have no agenda other than to tell interesting stories.
I didn’t say “positive” stories.
For more than 33 years running newspaper newsrooms in five different states I’d occasionally get a complaint a story was “negative.” Got it from conservatives, liberals and tried to explain we didn’t see stories as good, bad, positive or negative.
We did stories – going forward stories most of you find interesting.
The challenge – not for us, but for some people – is believing that.
Since I left the newspaper in 2015, media has become ever more fractured. It’s easy for people to only read what fits their view in their “echo chambers.” When they see a story that doesn’t fit that view, it’s easy to blame the messenger.
Former President Trump took it to another level with the phrase “fake news.”
You may not like or agree with every story we do, but if you want to accuse us of any agenda other than finding interesting stories, we’ll agree to disagree.
This week and next we hope to have a story every day. After that, it may not be every day. We don’t have advertisers we need to create daily content to carry their message. We don’t plan to post stories on weekends or holidays.
So how do we make this work?
Scott Mann and I were majority owners of the previous version of Lubbock Lights.
Scott, Marc McDougal and Benji Snead (former chair of Texas Associated Press Broadcasters) pooled some money to fund a reporter.
A few weeks ago, I hired James Clark, who’s been involved in local media for a long time, most recently at KAMC/KLBK.
James has extensive experience in investigatory reporting – knowing where to find documents and advocating for open records. His knowledge of digital media will be very welcomed.
James carries the title of associate editor. I’m the editor. That’s the inner circle – the two people doing this day to day.
Lubbock Lights is under the umbrella of Lubbock Stories Inc. – the nonprofit. The board of Lubbock Stories Inc. is Benji, Marc, Scott and me.
Marc, as if I need to point out, is a former mayor and successful businessman.
Benji served two separate stints as news director at KCBD.
Scott also worked at KCBD, helping deeper reporting on stories and had a well-read online column.
Benji and I have years of experience with media market studies and implementing them through strategic plans. So we have a pretty good idea of the Lubbock and West Texas market.
Yes – some of our board members have been very active in local politics. But Lubbock Lights will not be political. We will not cover elections.
James, Benji and I make up the Lubbock Lights editorial board, which will meet occasionally to review what we’re doing. We want to expand that after the first of the year to include folks from the community in an advisory capacity.
This is a full-time job for James. Right now, it’s part time for the rest of us. I created a media company in 2016 where I do storytelling for businesses and organizations. For example, we wrote all 100 Impactful Moments stories for Texas Tech’s centennial website. We have a small number of clients in Lubbock, but two in California and one elsewhere in Texas. I’m teaching a media-related class at Tech right now.
I doubt I’ll run into conflicts of interest, but if I do, we’ll be transparent about them.
Give us a few weeks or months to show you and make up your own mind.
Eventually, we want to fund Lubbock Lights through media foundations and other foundations. There is a lot of money becoming available for this kind of local news enterprise. Plus, we’ll approach people and businesses to see if they’d consider becoming “Friends of Lubbock Lights” for a modest annual tax write off.