Thursday, January 10, 2008

Houston Community Newspapers gets a *wedgie from upstart Instant Network News

An outfit called Instant Network News has announced its presence in the Petrochemical Underarm of Texas, where it plans to start neighborhood digital news reporting operations in Houston and eventually Dallas.

We wish them well, as we do all gatherers of news, who toil in the information vineyard for crappy pay, no pension and much uncertainty for the future.

Instant News Network has begun by purchasing Fort Bend Now, a digital news dealie that started two years ago.

We can't imagine that Houston Community Newspapers (HCN) is at all happy about these developments, since a major player in Instant Network News is a fellow who founded and once published the Examiner Newspaper Group, which was purchased in April 2006 by HCN.

A lot of times, when someone sells out to someone else, they have to agree not to start a rival company within a certain amount of time.

So now we have a guy who sold his neighborhood newspaper company to Houston Community Newspapers, then turns around and joins up with a new information gathering operation called Instant Network News, which has the gall to use as its advertising slogan -- "Neighborhood news to your computer when it happens, not your front lawn a week later."


(The fellow we're talking about is George Boehme, who's managing director of Instant Network News.)

Of course, there may have been no "non compete" agreement in Boehme's sales agreement with Houston Community Newspapers; or if there was one, maybe it's expired, or it was shoddily worded by a cheap lawyer. We simply don't know, we're just curious about the way things have unfolded (so if anyone wants to enlighten us, feel free to post a comment at the end of this post.)

Interestingly enough, the two other "partners" in Instant Network News are Clayton Harris, most recently director of business operations for Houston Community Newspapers, and Lane Smith, former manager of online development for Houston Community Newspapers.

So that's a further slap in the schnoz to Houston Community Newspapers.

We're not suggesting, though, litigation be commenced. Litigation is emotional, expensive and nerve-wracking. It should be avoided if at all possible. Life is just too short.


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