Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tom DeFrank '67 makes a stir with Ford book

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Dead men do tell tales: The late President Gerald Ford believed a successor, Bill Clinton, had a sex addiction and felt Hillary Clinton had "unlimited ambition" but the country was not ready for a woman president.

These juicy nuggets and more are included in private interviews Ford had with journalist Thomas DeFrank over the course of 16 years. DeFrank agreed to keep the conversations secret until Ford died, and after Ford's death at age 93 last December, DeFrank has published his book, "Write It When I'm Gone."

In comments that would have drawn major headlines at the time, DeFrank said Ford thought it might have been best if President George W. Bush dumped Dick Cheney as his vice presidential running mate in 2004 because of his muscular views on the Iraq war.

The book, which came out this week, is "Write It When I'm Gone: Remarkable Off-the-Record Conversations with Gerald R. Ford," by Tom DeFrank, Washington bureau chief for the New York Daily News and a '67 A&M grad. Here, the Baltimore Sun blogs about the journalistic ethics in DeFrank's deal with Ford:

DeFrank is a solid reporter who made a pact with the former president. It began when Ford, as the vice president, blurted out to DeFrank that President Nixon couldn't survive and he would be the president, adding "but when the pages of history of written, nobody can say I contributed to it." Realizing that he had spoken out of school, he extracted from the reporter a promise that he would only write about his statement until after his death. DeFrank, who concedes he was a scared 28-year-old newsman, gave up a worldwide scoop for the promise of future candor.

... DeFrank will get his share of criticism for not reporting what Ford told him at that time, but his book raises some interesting questions about the relationships between journalists and political figures. The Scooter Libby case brought on criticism that journalists in Washington are too close to political leaders and all too often traffic in information provided by nameless sources.

But DeFrank did some good stuff, as we say in journalism. Ford said, for example, that when asked about Clinton in public, he would only say that he voted for former Sen. Robert Dole to be the president. But to DeFrank, he said, "Clinton's got a sex sickness. I mean that." Later on, he said, "he's so sick he gets away with it."

MSNBC publishes DeFrank's own words -- an excerpt from the book describing how the deal was struck.

Fittingly for Halloween, the Detroit Free Press' headline is "Ford sounds off from beyond grave." News outlets around the country and globe have written or picked up the story, with various takes on Ford's comments, including CNN, Newsday, London Telegraph, Australia's The Age (Melbourne) and Sydney Morning Herald, Canada's National Post; and a Washington Post blog eavesdrops on Karl Rove at DeFrank's book release party.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

What price journalism education? Say, $360,000

Or at least that's the amount it took to endow a visiting professorship in journalism ethics at Arizona State – a rotating position in which a different working journalist comes to teach every spring semester. Sounds like a pretty cool plan, doesn't it? The grant came from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation in Oklahoma City.

Some more price tags from recent months:

New media lab at University of Tennessee: $500,000. (Grant from Scripps)

Arizona State program to develop high school journalists: $510,000. (Grant from Stardust Foundation)

Endowment to create up to six $5,000 scholarships for students working on campus publications at University of Michigan: $600,000.

New school of journalism at Ole Miss: $5.3 million.

New Belo media center at UT: $15 million.

Syracuse University's new Newhouse School: $23 million.

New journalism institute at University of Missouri: $32 million.

Getting your journalism department back? Priceless.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Cover letter/resume copy-editing, free of charge

Limited time offer*: If you're applying for an internship and want another pair of eyes to look over your resume or cover letter, send 'em here. I get paid to copy-edit things, after all. Though it may seem like a small thing, I speak from experience when I say that it's not a good idea to send an application with errors when you're looking for a job someplace that publishes words for a living. Take out a little insurance.

* OK , I'm probably flexible on the limited time part.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fort Worth internship deadlines Dec. 14

From the Star-Telegram:

The Star-Telegram summer internship program is ideal for students looking to gain daily newspaper experience. Interns work for 10 weeks, usually beginning the first week in June and ending in early August. Interns are paid $10 an hour and receive reimbursement for mileage accumulated while on assignments.

Most interns work on the city desk in one of the Star-Telegram's three newsrooms and are given a wide range of assignments. However, others are assigned to sports, features, photography, design and the copy desk.

Applicants must be college students with some experience on a campus newspaper, have a valid driver's license, proof of insurance, and access to transportation.

How to Apply
Send cover letter, resume, seven to 10 published work samples, letter of recommendation from a college adviser or professor and a two-page essay describing your goals for the internship.

Photographers should send a cover letter, resume, portfolio of 10-15 published work samples and a caption sheet, letter of recommendation from a college adviser or professor and a two-page essay describing your goals for the internship.

Applications must be postmarked by December 14, 2007.

Thank you,

D'Juana Gibson
Internship Coordinator
P. O. Box
Fort Worth
, TX 76115

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Intern deadline Nov. 15 for SA Express-News

There are troubles at the San Antonio Express-News, but they are still hiring interns. Deadline correction: Send them your stuff by Nov. 15, not the first as I reported below (that entry is now fixed). Send resume, cover letter, clips (5 to 15) and two letters of reference, mail or email. Pay is $13 per hour, for 10 to 13 weeks in the summer. Selections will be made in early January.

In other news, Joe Grimm says the internship market is tight and suggests: "Aim for the jobs that will be in high demand in the next 10 years: new media, copy editing and business reporting." An interesting observation in itself.

He also advises students to continue applying to multiple internships until somebody calls them back with a solid offer — not "You're a finalist."

Putting together your application: Practical advice from a 2005 grad here. Solid advice from the big picture down to details such as photocopying your clips and including references' phone numbers. Another tidbit: Increase your chances at a great paid internship by taking an unpaid internship (the summer before, perhaps).

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Houston to cut 70 jobs next week

Romenesko posted a memo Monday (which a comment below alerted me to; thank you) from Houston Chronicle publisher Jack Sweeney:
"A staff reduction in the five percent range, through layoffs and the elimination of open positions, is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday Oct. 29-30."
More details here.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Celebration for Skip Leabo on Nov. 11

The following comes from the Leabo family:

"In the time of your life, live."

—William Saroyan

Dear Friends and Family,

Please join us for a special gathering celebrating the life and times of Skip Leabo. This will be a very informal event (he wouldn't have wanted it any other way!) to share stories, special moments and drink a toast or two to a great husband, father, teacher, mentor, and friend.

Date: Sunday, November 11
Time: 5:30-7:30 PM
Location: Shady Springs Party Barn in Austin, TX

Directions: http://www.shadyspringspartybarn.com/Map.htm

Refreshments and hors d'oeuvres will be served.

We also invite you to contribute your own thoughts, stories, pictures, or any other memories of Skip for inclusion in a special memory book. Submit your contributions electronically (preferably before November 2) to sgilmore@nbcc.net or feel free to bring them to the event and we will include them then. And, please, even if you are unable to attend, we would still love to have your contributions.

Please RSVP to Kathy: 361-552-9431 (home), 361-935-9431 (cell) or reply via email to: skip.leabo@gmail.com .

And, as the years have passed, so have many of our contacts, so please, if you know of any other friends who loved, learned from, or otherwise simply enjoyed the company of Skip, please let them know of this event (but ask them to be sure to let us know they're coming!).

We look forward to seeing you!


Kathy, Pete, Andy, and Kris

P.S. Kids are welcome to come too! There's plenty of room to run and play on the grounds, but the pool will not be open.

P.P.S. For those of you coming from out of town, Shady Springs is conveniently located close to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. A number of hotels located within 3-4 miles from the airport are available at www.hotels.com.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Fundraising begins for Skip Leabo scholarship

Howdy folks: I wanted to make public the fact that FJSA is accepting donations for a Skip Leabo memorial scholarship; Kathleen McElroy graciously started the fund at the Fall Reception. E-mail me for donation details if you are interested or have questions; pass along the news to anyone you think might be interested; and please keep sending stories of Mr. Leabo and photos if you have them.

Along those lines, there are some more comments (in addition to those here) posted on the Batt's obituary for Mr. Leabo.

San Antonio Express-News offers buyouts

E&P reported Wednesday that the Express-News is offering voluntary buyouts to 40 to 50 employees.

"Increasingly, we find ourselves to be a company in transition: one that is growing robustly on some fronts, while experiencing retrenchment on other fronts," (president and publisher Tom) Stephenson wrote. "We are, in effect, transforming ourselves from a newspaper company to a publishing company, with substantial expansion beyond our core product."

We love us some Lovett

YankDog's comment on "A few Aggies in print and in music" prompted me to recall that my own paper just posted a story about Lyle in which he mentions reporting for the Batt (and reveals his eye for detail):

As a student journalist at Texas A&M, you wrote feature stories about songwriters like Steve Fromholz, Willis Alan Ramsey. I heard you knew everything about Ramsey in those days, down to the color of his shoes.

Well, yeah. He used to wear those Adidas SL 72s, my old track shoes. I loved watching the way he stood, and the way he tapped his foot on the base of the microphone stand to simulate a kick drum. Willis — more than any of those guys I admired — made me feel OK about trying this (life as a musician).

He also talked about writing for the Batt in this '98 Austin Chronicle interview:

AC: And you were studying journalism. Did you ever wind up interviewing musicians?

LL: I never worked as a journalist. Fortunately, I've never had a job. But I did get to do some interviews with performers as they came through town to play at Texas A&M. I did interview Steven Fromholz, and I interviewed Michael Martin Murphey, and I interviewed Willis Alan Ramsey. I interviewed Nanci Griffith. That's how I met her. The first interview I did with a musician was Don Sanders, who is a longtime Houston singer-songwriter and also a big influence. I also interviewed Eric Taylor. I had a really great time talking to singer-songwriters and trying to pick their brain and see how they worked.

While I'm at it, for the sake of future reporters writing stories about Lyle and Robert Earl Keen, let me throw in a pre-emptive correction to a commonly misreported fact — I think I committed this one myself when I was writing for the Batt. The San Antonio paper, among others, got it right:

Contrary to popular belief, Lovett and Robert Earl Keen, another singing-songwriting Aggie, were not roommates at A&M. Keen has long contended that Lovett is far too neat of a person to have lived in Keen's College Station digs.
For those who prefer a direct source (and who doesn't), here's Lyle in the Chronicle interview again:
LL: I lived down the street from Robert. Robert lived in a house that everybody sort of hung out at in between classes at school. There were always people at Robert's house, whether he was there or not. There was always somebody sitting on his porch, playing a guitar or playing a fiddle. So we all just kind of met up over at Robert's. And that's how I got to know him, just wandering by and seeing people outside playing.

(While reading the interview, I cannot stop myself from noting that one of Lyle's favorite REK songs is also mine: "Rollin' By.")

And oh, what the heck, while we're dispelling commonly misreported A&M-type items I'll throw in this: Freebirds World Burrito is based in College Station, but did not originate there. First store was in California. Anybody got any others?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Yipe! Internships deadline in two weeks

A lot of internships for summer 2008 deadline at the end of this month. For journalism minors, the place to start is of course the Journalism Studies program, which has a page on internships. But for all prospective journalists, internships are crucial. It's one of the first things editors look for when hiring. You learn a lot very fast. Your clips get better. You get to try on a job environment and see what you do and don't like without committing – a rare thing in itself! Here's some starting points:

Dow Jones internships
Prestigious program. Paul McGrath '78 of the Houston Chronicle says: "Time is of the essence. ... Everything has to be postmarked by Oct. 31. Interested students can Google Dow Jones internship and find the necessary info and application forms. They have to take a test, do a 500-word essay and fill out an application form. Once they qualify, they can be 'drafted' by any of the hundreds of participating newspapers. It's a 10-week paid internship." Plus a possible $1,000 scholarship for the next year.

For an editing internship you must make a request by Oct. 26 that someone administer the test to you. Professor Walraven has monitored the test in the past, and Paul has too – in fact he may be available part of next week (Oct. 20-27) to do so at A&M. Holler at him fast if you need him: superag1 (at) yahoo.com.

Texas newspapers
These are the largest papers — aim high, I say — but many, many others have internships. Try calling the local news outlets (TV, radio, Web) in whatever town you'll be spending the summer. (But call now.)
Houston Chronicle intern: Deadline Dec. 1. Marketing, sports, online, graphics, news copy desk, city desk etc. Copy editing interns must take the Dow Jones test; see above.
Dallas Morning News intern: Postmarked Nov. 1. Paid. News, biz, sports, photo, editing, Web, graphics, etc. Selwyn Crawford, who has visited the Batt staff in the past, is in charge of the program.
San Antonio Express-News intern: Deadline Nov. 15. Paid. Reporting, editing, photo. For more, click here, search for Texas, click on SA Express-News.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram intern: Deadline Dec. 14. Paid. News reporting, sports, features, photos, copy-editing, design.
Austin American-Statesman intern: Deadline Nov. 2. Paid, plus free housing. News, biz, sports, features, Web, reporting or editing, photo, graphics, design, op-ed.

(The Texarkana Gazette and Victoria Advocate also have internship listings at that ASNE link, which I got courtesy of cubreporters.org, and the Bryan College-Station Eagle is also a great place to start.)

Some excellent advice
Joe Grimm of the Detroit Free Press has a handy calendar that offers a smart year-round guide to landing an internship. (Sample tip: In April, call papers back to see if something opened up.)
Here, he answers "How do I get a copy-editing internship?" and scores of other internship questions, including what to say in an essay, the interview, big or small paper, etc.
To land on your feet when you start the job, search for some information about starting a new beat.
Also, ask your Aggie buddies: Many former students listed here will be happy to offer advice.

More job banks
Cubreporters.org has a whole raft of solid links to national internship listings — more than a dozen, including ASNE's bank and chains/organizations such as the AP (deadline Nov. 15) and Freedom Communications (deadline Nov. 1), which owns five Texas papers. One I thought looked fun was Ed2010, which lists magazine internships including Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Seventeen, Good Housekeeping and Rachael Ray's magazine. I wonder if Rachael wears Prada?
Journalismjobs.com, oddly, only has a few internships listed, even nationwide, but they're not bad: reporting for Reuters in Chicago, L.A., New York; PBS NewsHour; sports copy editing at the Orlando Sentinel.

Questions? Want specific help? Feel free to write me! More advice, tips, links, personal tales of woe or triumph are also extremely welcome.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Associate dean speaks on journalism at A&M

Many thanks to Associate Dean Pam Matthews, both for speaking to us at the FJSA reception and for kindly providing us with this summation of her address:

Remarks for FJSA Hall of Honor Induction Ceremony
Stark Galleries, Saturday, September 29, 2007
Pam Matthews

Thanks very much to all of you, and especially to Kelly Brown; it's an honor to be invited today. My name is Pam Matthews, and I am an associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts, a position I've held for over a year and a half now. As noted in today's program, my duties include interdisciplinary studies and also undergraduate and international programs. (I've been known to call myself "associate dean for things that just come up"!)

I'm also an English professor, and so I share your passion for words and for getting an expression just right. I've just been reading Barbara Ehrenreich's "Nickel and Dimed," too, and I'm reminded of journalism's power to affect social awareness. Thank you for what you do.

While Randy Sumpter enjoys a much-deserved faculty development leave, I have been keeping track of Journalism at Texas A&M University with the capable help of Natalie Holladay. Here are a few updates:

* The name has formally been changed to Journalism Studies, which reflects more accurately the shift toward media studies in journalism
* There are currently about 50 declared Journalism Studies minors, up from 35 at the end of the spring semester. Conversations about a major in Journalism Studies are on the horizon.
* There are approved by-laws for an interdisciplinary program and interdisciplinary faculty in place. This might seem like a rather uninteresting piece of news at first glance, but it makes possible a recognized Journalism Studies faculty whose formal responsibilities will include teaching JOUR courses.
* A new Liberal Arts Student Reporter project, just initiated this semester, provides paid journalism experience to selected students who develop everything from tip sheets to full stories about the College of Liberal Arts. The students' stories will have the potential for wider publication, we hope.
* Finally, a faculty search has begun for a joint appointment in Journalism Studies and Women's Studies. This will mean that we anticipate welcoming an assistant professor whose work bridges these two fields in fall 2009. The search is part of a new effort by the College of Liberal Arts to highlight interdisciplinary work, and Journalism Studies will contribute to the excitement already generated by these appointments.

I offer congratulations to those being honored today. Please feel free to contact me with questions, advice, or comments. Thank you very much.

Friday, October 5, 2007

SA sportswriter calls on A&M to act

Brent Zwerneman of the San Antonio Express-News has called for action on the Texas A&M journalism front in some well-worded columns recently; one right before he broke the "VIP Connection" e-mails story, and one today.

A few choice snippets:

Robert Gates did a lot of good things as Texas A&M’s president. The nation’s current defense secretary did at least one thing bad in Aggieland.

He dissolved the journalism degree. Seems like you’d want to turn out graduates eager to spread the good word about your university.

Today's column talks about his visit to an A&M reporting class this week:

One student told me everyone else she knew who wanted to major in journalism or communications went to Texas. Such a revelation will explain why, in a decade or two, the communications business will be loaded with Longhorns and sprinkled with Aggies – if that.

The students I talked to on Thursday were attentive, inquiring, courteous and a whole lot sharper than me - like my wife, an Aggie journalist. There just weren’t enough of ’em.

If A&M is smart, it’ll reinstall its journalism degree, to turn out graduates armed with spreading the good word about its university. Like the 12 I met on Thursday.

A few Aggies in print and in music

Journalism minor Amy Noesser has a column on breaking up in the Eagle ... Donald Forse writes for the Hardin County News ... and another A&M journalism grad, Hadden Sayers, is doing well as a blues player! Take a listen here.