In late May, I posted on the topic, Now, It Gets a Little Harder ... in which I drew upon my deep and wide-ranging experience in the media to predict that we were about to settle, once again, into the inevitable news lull that accompanies summer.
Boy, was THAT a mistake ...
There may have been some year, where we had a busier summer in West Texas than the one we're having now ... but I'd be hard pressed to name it.
Part of it is due to where we are, and how important the weather is to us. In West Texas, even the most urban of us tend to keep our eyes on the skies, as anxious as any cotton farmer. We are in the midst of another wet year - the second year in a row - and that's news. One doesn't often devote much space in the news to flooded homes and streets in July, but we have.
The other extreme of West Texas weather - the very hot, the very dry and the very windy - has also contributed to our full assignments boards. The same grass that flourished in the rain, then becomes tinder-dry ... literally. Add fireworks to lightning and other sparks, and that's why we've been covering dozens of wildfires across West Texas and southeast New Mexico. Some day, I'd like to devote a post just to the men and women of our small towns' volunteer fire departments.
Firefighters have been way too busy this summer ... and so have police and paramedics, SWAT teams and haz-mat crews. From manhunts in Odessa and mortar rounds in Midland, to traffic accidents and drug busts everywhere ... there's been little or no opportunity for West Texas' emergency personnel to enjoy a 'summer break.'
Then, there are the stories we planned on having this summer ... Independence Day parades, movie festivals, and tours of West Texas' smaller communities, live broadcasts from throughout the region, highlighting the people and places outside the metropolitan area.
Special projects, like a series of live reports from Iraq, meeting West Texans serving in the Army National Guard there, have also created a lot of local activity. Other state, national and world news items that contributed to busy newsrooms locally ... the Texas Legislature and school finance reform, the U.S. Supreme Court, the launch of the space shuttle Discovery and the terrorist bombings in England and Egypt.
Even in the area of sports, where there is a summertime lull in high school activity and interest, there's been news. Locally, the Midland Rockhounds were Texas League-West champions for the first half of the season. And West Texas' youngest pro sports franchise, the Odessa Roughnecks, went undefeated in the regular season. National and world headlines contributing to local sports reports ... Lance Armstrong and the Tour de France, Tiger Woods and the British Open, and (I guess) the end of the NHL lockout.
"Right now, there is an avalanche of stories out there. But that will soon change," I wrote in May. Boy, did I get THAT wrong ... or did I? ... hmmmm ... I know ... I admit NOTHING ... no wrongdoing, no mistake whatsoever ... I never said that ... or, if I did, it was taken out of context ... I blame the media!