In any newspaper, people work day in and day out to record the history of a community and publish it in printed form for all antiquity. And, the community benefits from knowledge gained from the information provided. Such is the case with the 150-year history of The Paris News and the people who made the news possible.
Throughout the years, The Paris News has been fortunate to have a long line of journalists who love this community and do their best to reflect the history of a proud community. This entry highlights a handful of those who have left their mark on the newspaper’s long and distinguished history.
Former publisher Pat Bassano returned to Paris in April 1976 from Texas Christian University to continue the legacy of his grandfather, A.G. Mayse, who in 1929 became publisher of what was then known as The Paris Evening News and who served in that capacity through a name change to The Paris News in 1937 until his death in 1955. His son-in-law, Walter Bassano, from a long-time Paris family, carried on the tradition, as did Roger Amdall and Bill Martin, in the early 1970s before Pat Bassano took the helm.
“Returning to my hometown to be publisher of The Paris News was one of the highlights of my career,” said Bassano, who later became a banker. “It was an honor to later follow my grandfather and my dad who had served in that position for over 40 years.”
Along with former reporters, editors, staff members and community supporters, Bassano paid a visit Friday during an open house celebration.
“The News has always been an important part in the success of our area, and continues today marking this special occasion,” he said.
Other former employees to pay their respects included Allan Hubbard, who served as a reporter from 1995-98, covering primarily the police and the courts beat. Along with another graphic designer, Hubbard put the newspaper on the Internet, making the paper one of the first 10 newspapers in Texas to go online. In 1996, The Paris News won the Associated Press’ Best Online Newspaper in Texas for newspapers its size, the first year the title was awarded.
Hubbard recalled covering high-profile criminal cases including that of a Paris teenager who murdered a Paris woman and seriously injured her mother, then showered and went to school.
“I covered that incident from start to finish, and after a trial in Sherman drove to interview the killer on death row where he confessed to me that he ‘just looked out the window, went over there and did it,’” Hubbard said.
“My time at The Paris News was instrumental in making me a proud member of this community,” said Hubbard, now executive director of the Downtown Food Pantry.
Connie Beard, who joined the paper in 2007 as a reporter and front page designer, became managing editor in 2014 for a couple of years and then returned in 2018 for a brief period to assist newly-named publisher Relan Walker.
“I loved meeting the people in the community, sharing events and just getting to know them,” she said. “It was a wonderful experience.”
During her time at the newspaper, Beard said she learned how important it is to write clearly, concisely and in a way that is unbiased and accurate.
“I learned that you need to be careful about how you write,” she said. “Not to convey opinion, write about what happened and not what I thought would happen.”
Beard said she still has a subscription to the paper and pays attention to what is happening in the community.
“It’s something I’ll utilize for the rest of my life,” she said.
Longtime managing editor Bill Hankins worked for the paper for 13 years in the 1990s and again several years ago after an almost 40-year career in Dallas, owning and publishing papers and working for The Dallas Times Herald during its heyday. He was recognized by The Texas Legislature for more than 50 years in the newspaper business when he retired several years ago.
What follows in Hankins’ own words is his tribute to the newspaper’s 150 anniversary:
“The newspaper had for more than 120 years been the center of news for the citizens of Lamar County and the surrounding area when I joined it in 1993, but the times were changing.
“It had recently been purchased by Southern Newspapers and just moved into a new building on the loop, far from its old downtown home where people congregated in early years to hear the latest election results and breaking news before it became a printed version.
“I was hired as a reporter, but in two months had become managing editor. I wasn’t sure I could adjust to the slow pace, having worked many years on large dailies with at least five editions a day and in cities where big news was only a minute away.
“I discovered news was as exciting in Paris, Texas, and the surrounding area. The solution was simple, speed up the newsgathering and fill the newspaper with news that might be missed otherwise.
“It made my 13 years at The Paris News an exciting adventure, filled with so many major breaking stories and solving of old criminal cases, such as the liquor store owner who hired two men to kill his wife and lived the remainder of his life before his act was uncovered.
“We followed the story of the murder of a prominent Clarksville woman from the night she was shot to death, through the arrests of three men in Dallas, the trials and to the moment two men were put to death for the killing.
“There were the stories surrounding the death of a Paris woman, near death of her mother and the conviction of a high school student that went home, took a shower and went to school after the attack.
“We did the investigation on the cold case of a murdered young Bonham woman whose body was found in Red River. Much of our information and the private investigator who worked with The Paris News was included in an hour-long television episode of 48 Hours.
“Action stories filled our pages, and so many personal interest articles of life stories our readers had never had the opportunity to know.
“I could list hundreds and hundreds of great stories and great moments. All made my time at The Paris News one of the most special of my life.
“My whole time at The Paris News was filled with knowing some great writers and newspaper staffers, I miss them all, along with the people who made the news and the readers who were a huge part of making the newspaper successful.”
The Paris News officially turned 150 years old on Wednesday.