January 25, 2017, Conroe – What used to be a proud newspaper, by the name of The Conroe Courier, which the Owen family ran many years ago, has descended into a troubled blog with little fact-checking, poor editing, and a ghost town of an office. Today, it is little more than the Courier blog. The blog is slow to report stories and then often brings them in much closer to fiction than anything resembling the facts. Here are three dramatic examples.
Today, the Courier blog ran a news story concerning the arrest of a Conroe lady for selling methamphetamines. The Courier ran a headline which reported that she is a “Conroe ISD Teacher.” The lady is nothing of the sort. She was briefly a substitute teacher whom the District no longer employs. When the story originally appeared, Conroe ISD Board of Trustees member Melanie Pryor Bush complained. The Courier blog failed to take any action. At mid-day today, The Golden Hammer decided to defend the reputation of the largest school district in this community and ran a story correcting and criticizing the Courier blog’s defamatory report, “Courier Blog Posts More Garbage, Defames Conroe ISD.” Only after the County’s leading newspaper ran that story and criticized the Courier blog did the Courier blog finally correct the story eighty-six (86) minutes later and clarified that the lady was only a substitute teacher whom the District does not employ.
The Courier has become the spokesblog for County Judge Craig Doyal largely because one of its editors, Catherine Dominguez, is particularly enamored with the career politician. Dominguez previously worked for the Montgomery County Hospital District (MCHD) as the Director of its Public Relations Department where she publicly promoted indicted directors, multimillion dollar mobile medical clinics that hardly saw any patients, millions of dollars of overcharges for oncology drugs for indigent patients, government real estate schemes to buy property at high prices and sell at lower prices, and an odd, but extraordinarily expensive, assortment of posters, wall hangings, pens, cupholders, rubber balls, coffee cups, and a cornucopia of bling all having the “MCHD” logo. The District fired Dominguez the day after new director Eric Yollick offered and successfully passed a resolution to cut the District’s budget by $5 million during his first meeting as a Board of Directors member on April 15, 2003.
Partly in retribution for Yollick’s budget-cutting actions at MCHD and also for Yollick’s actions in questioning the massive spending and taxation of her favorite politician Doyal, Dominguez created a fictitious report three weeks ago about a bank lawsuit which Yollick settled and which resulted in no judgment against Yollick. The story was hardly news since it involved a fictional scenario which Dominguez and County Attorney J.D. Lambright seemed to create involving events allegedly occurring almost nine (9) years ago. Under those circumstances, it was completely irresponsible for Courier blog editor Andy DuBois even to permit Dominguez to work on any story involving Yollick.
DuBois and the Courier blog have a history of defaming Yollick. On December 13, 2005 (the date may be one week off), the Courier ran a front page story with Yollick’s picture and a headline announcing that a federal grand jury had indicted Yollick for perjury. The Courier blog and its City Editor, DuBois, had done no fact checking whatsoever before running the story. The Courier had not spoken with Yollick, had not checked court records, and had not even contacted any federal officials. Rather, the Courier, DuBois, and the paper’s editor Jim Fredricks (same person who his now Chief of Staff to County Judge Doyal and his public relations director) ran the story which was one hundred percent (100%) fiction. There was no federal investigation of Yollick for perjury or anything else. No federal grand jury even considered indicting Yollick. There was nothing whatsoever to the story, which was a complete fiction which DuBois and Yollick’s political nemesis at the time, former MCHD board member Nicol Huff, had concocted. Since Yollick was in a jury trial in Conroe the day the story came out, Yollick was concerned that jurors might read the newspaper. Therefore, Judge Fred Edwards instructed the jury not to consider anything that appeared in the newspaper during the trial. Furthermore, the Courier blog retracted and apologized to Yollick on the front page the next day.
It’s a sad phenomenon that newspapers in America and elsewhere are dying. The Courier blog is fading faster than others, because the terrible quality of the reporting and editing and the constant use of fiction in articles has removed all credibility from the publication.
Poor quality explains why a trip to the Courier’s office has the feel of walking through a boring version of Deadwood ghost town. The Golden Hammer is willing to provide fact-checking and editing services to the Courier blog for free. They need the help.
The Golden Hammer seeks to provide timely and quality news with fact-checking and full confirmation. One may find our community’s leading newspaper at www.thegoldenhammer.net.