NNA keynote speaker: ‘The demand for what you do has never been higher’

“Newspapers are the backbone of educating Americans,” members of the National Newspaper Association were told Friday at the 125th annual convention of the organization in Albuquerque.

Dean Lowell Catlett of New Mexico State University was the keynote speaker for the opening session of the convention.

“The demand for what you do has never been higher,” Catlett said.

More than two dozen Texas newspaper men and women are at the convention.

Chad Ferguson of Columbus is the president of the Texas Press Association and carried the state flag during the opening ceremonies.

Postal issues top the convention agenda followed closely by digital programs.

Max Heath of Shelbyville, Kentucky, chairman of NNA’s postal committee had a session on problems related to USPS plans to close many more post offices in the near future.

Two Texas newspaper men are past presidents of the national organization including Jerry Tidwell, publisher of the Hood County News in Granbury and Roy J. Eaton, retired publisher of the Wise County Messenger in Decatur.

Another program set for Friday was “Beyond Libel”, which covered legal pitfalls in the digital age and how to avoid them. The convention ends Saturday afternoon.

By Roy Eaton

Roy J. Eaton retired in 2009 as president and publisher of the Wise County Messenger, a newspaper he had owned and published for 33 years.

He began his journalism career as a part-time reporter for a Fort Worth radio station in 1956 following his freshman year at TCU. While still a student, he was named news director of the station in 1958.

He became news director of the NBC radio affiliate in Dallas-Fort Worth in 1968 and later became director of television news coverage and news anchorman for the Dallas-Fort Worth NBC television affiliate.

He returned to his home town and purchased the Wise County Messenger in 1973 when it was a weekly publication of 2,500 circulation. The paper began publishing twice-weekly in 1980 and now has a paid circulation of more than 7,000. Combined with a Total Market Coverage publication "All Around Wise" the Messenger has a mid-week circulation of more than 21,000.

The Messenger won more than 150 awards for excellence in news coverage, advertising and design, including 21 awards in the National Newspaper Association Better Newspaper contests in 2008. The Messenger won NNA's coveted "General Excellence" award for twice-weekly newspapers in 2005.

Eaton was elected to the National Newspaper Association board of directors in 1992 representing Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and New Mexico. He was president of NNA in 1996-97 and has also served as chairman of the NNA Postal and Membership committees.

He is a past president of the Texas Press Association and the Texas Newspaper Foundation and the Fort Worth Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He is a past director of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. Eaton has received the Harold Hudson Memorial Award from the West Texas Press Association and the Sam C. Holloway Award from the North and East Texas Press Association. For the past 40 years, he has served as a livestock show and parade announcer for the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show in Fort Worth.

He was presented the 2005 Ethics Award by the Schieffer School of Journalism. The award was presented "in recognition of a career dedicated to achieving and demanding the highest ethical standards in the profession of journalism."