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Port Arthur News names new editor

Monique Batson has been named editor of The Port Arthur News. Her first day is Monday (March 15).

Batson is not new to the community or readers, having served the previous two years as deputy managing editor of the Beaumont Enterprise, following time as a senior editor.

Her previous professional experience includes work as city editor, web editor, features editor and reporter. She also worked for two years as an e-marketing communications specialist with Altus Health.

“The Port Arthur News has been a staple for Port Arthur and Mid-County residents for more than a century,” Batson said. “This is where I have lived for 40 years and the place my children attend school. As our community continues to thrive, I’m honored to be able to tell the stories that impact our area while leading an extraordinary group of journalists into the future of news.”

Publisher Stephen Hemelt said Batson’s local roots and years of experience make her the perfect choice to lead the newsroom following the Dec. 29 resignation of former editor I.C. Murrell, who left for a job closer to his family and home in Arkansas.

Batson attended Nederland High School and Lamar University, starting her professional career as a 19-year-old reporter for the Hardin County News.

Today, she lives in Port Neches and has two teenage boys who attend Port Neches-Groves Independent School District schools.

“It’s fitting that in Women’s History Month that Batson will become the first female editor in the long history of the Port Arthur News,” publisher Stephen Hemelt said. “She has large shoes to fill in following my friend, I.C. Murrell, the first African American editor in The News’ history. Batson’s willingness to take on that challenge and her immense skillset make her the perfect choice to lead Port Arthur Newsmedia’s growing coverage of our multi-cultural and ever-evolving community.”

Batson’s personal focus will be Port Arthur-based coverage on the people and agencies that make up the city.

“Port Arthur and its surrounding towns are a high point of growth and represent a vital part of Jefferson County,” she said. “As a parent (especially one during a pandemic), I know how important it is to understand where our tax dollars go, what our school districts are deciding, where to get help during a crisis and how our economy has been affected by the circumstances around it.”

Batson says, now more than ever, local journalism is lighting the way for truth and understanding.

“In a world fueled by social media and misinformation, it is not only important to inform those around us of the facts, but to ensure our future journalists know how to find the answers their community deserves,” she said.

While maintaining strong circulation numbers, The Port Arthur News has seen a significant jump in its online readership following a mid-year 2019 hyper re-focus on covering almost exclusively current events in Port Arthur and Mid-County.

There was a 42 percent jump in total page views at panews.com when comparing 2019 to 2020.

Hemelt said, with Batson’s guidance, a similar jump is expected in 2021 to meet the needs of a community thirsty for quality and consistent coverage of their hometown issues.