‘The Printer Fires With Both Barrels’

[imgbelt img=fullingim.jpeg]For a quarter century, Archer Fullingim ran one of the best weekly newspaper in America. On the front page of every edition of The Kountze News was his column, “The Printer Fires With Both Barrels.”

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[imgcontainer left] [img:archbook.jpeg] Roy Hamric collected the columns written by Archer Fullingim into a 1975 book. Arch published the The Kountze News in Kountze, Texas, for 25 years.

The Kountze News was the creation of Archer Fullingim.

He started the weekly newspaper in the town of Kountze in deep East Texas in 1950 and it lasted just a few years after he wrote his last column on February 27, 1975. Fullingim said he knew it was time to give it up when the paper companies stopped producing the 44X32 sheets he fed into his press. It was either modernize or quit, so Arch quit.

Fullingim was known for a couple of things. He gave Richard Nixon his everlasting nickname, “Tricky Dick,” in the 1950s. He waged a decades-long campaign to save The Big Thicket, a heavily wooded area of East Texas. And Fullingim was known for his weekly front-page column, “The Printer Fires With Both Barrels.”

Roy Hamric edited a book containing columns Arch Fullingim had written over his quarter century at The Kountze News. They are an inspiration. They begin with a contest to name the paper. There are columns about the “great collard green debate,” a discussion around town about the drawing of greens on the paper’s front page. (There was also a catfish, a guitar and an armadillo.)

We read the book recently (Archer Fullingim: A Country Editor’s View of Life) and recommend it to everyone. In the introduction, Arch tells Hamric what it takes to be a good country editor:

There’s a great field for people who want to go into country journalism, if they make up their minds they will not only write the news, but also will lead the people, will recognize injustices in the world. Anyone who goes into country journalism solely to make money is not only a phony, but a fool. And he’s a fool to go into weekly journalism if he’s afraid to express an opinion.

The Texas weekly editor must derive inspiration from himself. He can’t look to the dailies in Dallas, Houston or San Antonio. They are all super rich and super establishment. 

The only formula for an editor to follow is simple: to tell the truth as he sees it, and not ride the fence. But most weekly newspapers hide, bury or reject enough real news each week for fear of ruffling feathers to make it a great newspaper.

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