This week, on July 8, 2010, we at Guidry News Service are celebrating our 14th anniversary of publishing news of the Gulf Coast Region, first via fax to Galveston subscribers, then through the Internet to a world-wide audience.
A lot has changed since Lynda and I launched this service 14 years ago.
An obvious place to begin a discussion of change in the way we publish our news is to review the technology. Sending news via fax, while not being done to any extent by other news organizations in 1996, was not a quantum leap into the future. Fax technology had been around almost as long as the telephone.
However, calling the birth and growth of the Internet anything less than a quantum leap would be an understatement.
I began my radio news career in 1961 as the tools of broadcast journalism were being developed. My first portable recorder was a reel-to-reel device that was referred to as a "Mickey Mouse recorder" by a veteran broadcaster who watched me work. Cassette recorders became the standard for several decades and broadcast journalists were able to provide actual recordings of interviews, speeches, deliberations and arguments, sirenes and gunshots, and other sounds of news events.
Then came the Internet. The Internet would change everything. But it didn't happen right away.
My original intent was to put my radio newscast on the Internet.
"No problem!" said our first web designer in 1997.
Well, there were problems. With the exception of a few technically advanced institutions, most people who had access to the Internet back then used very slow dial-up connections. Thus, the audio we were providing to our visitors was difficult to receive and listen to.
Throughout the years GuidryNews.com has benefited from the almost universal expansion of broadband reception; and our Internet publication has evolved from providing photo and audio documentation of the meetings and events that we cover in Gulf Coast E-news, our daily subscription publication, to a full service news station.
In addition to news of meetings and special events, GuidryNews.com's menu includes Weather, Obituaries, Forum, Education, Communities, Links and Features pages. Features include Arts & Entertainment, Brenda's Garden, Business & Industry, Faith & Values, Pat Patton Interviews and Jim Guidry Commentaries. We are preparing to include a Maritime News page, to reflect our expansion of port coverage from Port Freeport to Port Manatee on the Gulf Coast of Florida.
There have also been changes to the political landscape since we began our service in 1996.
In 2003 the Ninth Congressional District of Texas, which had stretched across Southeast Texas from the Louisiana border to the Johnson Space Center, was dissolved in a controversial redistricting move by the Texas Legislature. Leaving the wisdom of political gerrymandering for another essay, I will say that this action destroyed a district that was serving a definite community of interest. The region is heavily involved in the petrochemical industry, shares common coastal concerns and is invested in the human spaceflight program.
I believe that Guidry News Service has helped to fill the void that was left by the abrupt end of the Ninth District. We had expanded into Jefferson County at the suggestion of then Congressman Nick Lampson. Lynda and I are both from the Golden Triangle of Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange, so it was a move that we had previously considered.
We now cover commissioners courts, city councils, public school districts and institutions of higher education, port authorities and regional bodies, including councils of government, in Brazoria, Galveston, Harris and Jefferson Counties. Managing Editor Garrett Bryce has developed a rapport with elected officials, city managers, city secretaries and other officials in courthouses and city halls throughout the region.
We also are uniquely placed to cover a very important new regional entity, the Gulf Coast Community Protection and Recovery District. This body, governed by the county judges of Brazoria, Galveston, Harris, Jefferson, Chambers and Orange Counties and three at-large members still to be selected, is charged with studying the feasibility of a storm surge system, such as the Ike Dike proposed by Dr. William Merrell of Texas A&M University at Galveston.
There is another significant change to discuss on our anniversary. In 2009 Lynda and I moved our home and headquarters to Midtown Houston which enabled us to expand our coverage of the regional bodies based in Houston. This change has been good for us and good for our business. We have not decreased our involvement in Galveston County or Jefferson County, where we also maintain offices.
We have attracted a very talented team of associates. Carl Guidry represents us in Jefferson County. Ashley Ayala provides writing assistance from Jefferson County. Jim Richardson and Jim Cook provide photos and special coverage of events in Washington, D.C. Juan Peña and Robert Mihovil have provided service as photographers and special correspondents in Galveston for several years. Jason Adriance has provided the technical assistance to make our work in cyberspace fast and efficient.
We have recently formed some key alliances.
George Douglas Lee, whose Electric Theatre Radio Hour was without a home following the latest demise of KGBC Radio in Galveston, began publication of the program on GuidryNews.com; and his wife Brenda, hosts Food, Glorious Food! on the program. George and Brenda promote the arts and cultural offerings across the region and throughout Texas.
Rick Clapp, owner of Bay Group Media, founder of Bay Area Houston Magazine and now producer of Bay Area Houston Alive, GoBAHA.com, has formed an alliance with Guidry News Service. Rick's deep knowledge of and involvement in the communities on Galveston Bay and Clear Lake will complement the news component that that area has come to rely on from Guidry News.
Lynda is collaborating with Brenda Lee and Rick Clapp and publicist and GNS contributor Pat Patton on marketing initiatives to offer the benefit of expanded reach to their audiences and advertisers along the entire Golden Gulf Coast and beyond!
We are also committed to the advancement of the non-profits and service organizations of this very large region that provide so many with the essential help needed for a better life.
Thank you for your support of our service throughout the years. We look forward to continuing to provide information to inform and entertain you.