Is Fort Worth's Star-Telegram Now a Newspaper Without a Home?

Just got off the phone with Jim Witt, executive editor of the Star-Telegram, who pointedly did not deny this morning's hot rumor -- that the Fort Worth newspaper's building, which has been on the market since September 2008, has been sold and the staff told to work from home.

Sheesh. How bad can the newspaper business get? Will the staff be told it has to to provide beds for homeless executives?

I asked Witt if the building had been sold.

He said: "You know, we've had it for sale for a while. If it is, I don't know about it yet. I'm not plugged in. I've been out this morning, Jim. So I don't know. But I'm going to see the publisher this afternoon. I will certainly find out by then." (Update at 3:19 p.m.: Witt just forwarded this story just posted to the paper's website, in which it says XTO Energy's founder and Texas Rangers co-owner Bob Simpson is buying the building. The paper will relocate elsewhere to a leased location in downtown; where, precisely, it does not say.)

Who foresaw a day when the executive editor would have to ask the publisher if the paper still had a building?

I then asked Witt if the staff had been forced to give up its desks and told to work from home.

He said: "You know, we had been for a long time trying to make reporters mobile, so we've been equipping them with laptops and cell phones and air cards. It's more efficient to have reporters be mobile."

I asked him if it's conceivable that the Star-Telegram could wind up with no office and everybody working from home.

"You know, our sports reporters have never worked from the office. I've been here 25 years, and they've never worked from the office."

Yeah, but they're at the bar.

Wow. What do the reporters do when they don't have homes any more? Phone it in from their shopping carts?

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze