Monday, December 31, 2007

First year of this blog, and what's next for FJSA

A lot has happened this year in FJSA.

Since this blog began in March, we've heard from Aggies around the U.S. and the world -- from Kenya to England, from California to the Pentagon. The blog's daily traffic is rising steadily. Folks are checking in, saying hi, sending news, and I am grateful to every one of you.

For the first time in about a decade, FJSA is raising money for a new journalism scholarship. At our fall reception, we learned of plans to hire a new journalism/women's studies prof and about changes that may lead to students being once again able to major in journalism. (More on that TK.)

FJSA members who serve on committees at A&M help award journalism scholarships and keep up to date on the university's actions. FJSA members have served as Journalists-in-Residence and taught journalism classes at A&M, and more members keep volunteering to come help students in any way they can.

Also new for FJSA this year:

I don't think we've definitively hooked anybody up with a job quite yet, but we do have an exchange of information going on with people both seeking jobs and hiring, and we've provided some advice to students and recent grads.

Some news that's coming in the near future: We'll report on Liberal Arts' progress toward making journalism an interdisciplinary major and toward hiring a journalism/women's studies prof; the Journalism Studies Program will announce its 2008 Journalists-in-Residence; and FJSA will take nominations for the 2008 Hall of Honor inductee.

Some things I personally want to look into in 2008:

  • What FJSA might be able to do in pursuit of grants, to secure more funding for the Journalism Studies program.
  • Creating (with the help of some of you all) fact sheets to be available on the Web, supplying background on current journalism education available at A&M, why more would be better and how it fits into A&M's overall mission, and publicizing FJSA events and efforts (thank you Kristal for this key idea).

Stay tuned!

Wishing you a New Year that's clear of Steers

A couple silly links before we all get back to the business of the new year:

I always enjoy Texas Monthly's Bum Steer Awards. I realize there has to be an Aggie or mention of A&M on the cover so that a) Longhorns will buy it and b) Aggies will buy it to see what they're saying about us. Though Dennis Franchione's their cover boy (with an assist from a hungry Reveille), they do riff on the UT player arrests (ours came too late for press time, perhaps). And they give a thumbs-down to the "Vick 'Em" T-shirts at Tech.

As always, the state's media outlets commit a few Bum Steers: a Lubbock TV reporter arrested while under cover; the Press Club of Dallas Katies flap; the Star-Telegram agreeing to deliver Bibles. And, as a copy editor, I feel deeply for the Houston Chronicle editor who wrote the Anna Nicole cutline they cite.

That cutline also made it into Regret The Error's 2007 hits compilation. There are some corkers, including Cherie Blair NOT in the shower, numerous sightings of Obama Bin Laden and one "Titanic" goof that made it all the way around the world until a 15-year-old caught it.

May your New Year be error-free and full of good luck!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Stolleis '92 checks in from Santa Fe

Karl Stolleis sent this; he's begun blogging about multimedia, video and photography at newspapers.

Just wanted to let folks know where I am:

Karl Stolleis
Class of 92
Former Photographer and editor
Currently in Santa Fe, NM

Starting salary ranges at a few Texas papers

I guess I understand why employers don't list a salary range with a job opening, but I sure like it when they do. It seems straightforward. I've been doing surveys of Texas print journalism job openings throughout 2007, and here are some compiled results. Only a very few employers chose to place the pay range in the ad, of course, and thus these results will only tell you so much -- mostly, they tell you what you can expect to get paid in an entry-level job at a small Texas newspaper, or a management job at a tiny Texas newspaper (which can involve being the reporter/photographer/designer, anyway).

Once you get up to the mid-sized and larger newspapers, everybody starts clamming up about their pay ranges, even for entry-level jobs. So this will NOT tell you what to expect at those papers. But it still may be of use, and so I present it -- organized by rounded-up circulation size with the newspapers' names stripped off, because I see no need to punish them for being honest.

Management positions
(40,000 circ) Desk supervisor for Web and print, $50,000 to $60,000
(10,000 circ) News editor, $30,000 to $35,000
(5,000 circ) Managing editor, $40,000 to $45,000
(4,000 circ) News editor, $35,000-$40,000
(3,500 circ) Managing editor, $20,000-$25,000
Biweekly political journal CEO/executive publisher, $60,000-$75,000
Magazine managing editor, $45,000-$50,000
Magazine photo editor, $40,000-$45,000

Copy editor/page designer
(50,000 circ) $25,000 to $30,000
(23,400 circ) copy editor, $20,000-$25,000; page designer, $15,000-$20,000
(8,200 circ) $25,000 to $30,000

(10,500 circ) $20,000-$25,000
(10,000 circ) reporter/photographer/paginator, $25,000-$30,000
(8,200 circ) $20,000-$25,000
(6,200 circ) $25,000-$30,000
(3,500 circ) $20,000-$25,000
(5,000 circ 3x-weekly) $20,000-$25,000
(10,000 circ weekly) $20,000-$25,000

Job survey, late December

Alternative observations: The Dallas Observer needs a music editor, and the longtime liberal "muckraking biweekly journal" (their words) Texas Observer is looking for a CEO/executive publisher, $60,000-$75,000.

The Corpus Christi Caller-Times needs a reporter and a copy editor/page designer ... Amarillo Globe-News needs a copy editor/page designer ... the Texarkana Gazette is looking for an entry-level business reporter ... Killeen Daily Herald needs an assistant managing editor ... Laredo Morning Times needs a copy editor, $20,000-$25,000, and a page designer, $15,000-$20,000 ... the Brownsville Herald seeks a sports reporter ... Denton Record-Chronicle says "bring your journalism degree here" if you want to be an assistant sports editor ... the Marshall News Messenger needs a GA reporter.

The Hill Country News, a biweekly paper out of Cedar Park/Leander, seeks a reporter, journalism degree required ... The weekly Fredericksburg Standard Radio Post needs a reporter/photog/paginator, $25,000-$30,000 with benefits ... Houston Community Newspapers seek a reporter, degree in journalism, English or comm preferred, and designers (recent grads with good clips considered).

Monday, December 24, 2007

Last-minute Christmas desperation gift!

Still looking for the perfect present for the brilliant yet underappreciated maroon-ink-stained wretch in your life? We've got you covered: It's the Aggie Journalist bumper sticker!!

Only $2.99! Limitless quantities!
Absolutely guaranteed to arrive

long, long after Christmas is past!

Though this is a real CafePress item and you could actually order one if you wanted to, it is intended more as a tip of the hat to James Bernsen '94, busily blogging away in Iraq, who donated the phrase (for an $0.03 fee) in this exchange on a TexAgs board.

I will order a couple just to see how they turn out. If they're not dreadful I will even send one to James, who will probably wish he got better stuff in the mail.

A thank-you to my dear husband, who bent his massive graphic-designer skills to this task. (However, he is not to blame for the blog's fairly silly typewriter logo; that's me. I'm silly.)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Hiring/J-degree: Wichita Falls Times Record News

Part of a series in which professionals answer the question that students often ask me: Do you need a journalism degree to get hired in the field?

Many thanks to Lynn Walker, Night City Editor of the Wichita Falls Times Record News, for his answers.

When you hire a reporter or a copy editor, how important is it for an applicant to have a journalism degree?

Why do you look for a journalism degree, or what do you look for instead of that?

Is the picture different for entry-level applicants vs. experienced applicants?

Virtually all of our hires in the editorial department over the past few years have been entry-level positions. Most of them have been people with journalism or related-field degrees. Most of them have come from our local college, Midwestern State University. Many have begun working for us part time while they were attending school. Typically, our copy desk employees start as part timers and assume full time jobs when they get their degrees.

We have hired a few reporters from non-local J schools. It is our experience that they move closer to their homes once they have picked up a little experience here.

Of course, very little hiring is happening now. Like most newspapers, our staff is in a period of contraction rather than expansion.

Not having a degree in journalism would not preclude someone from getting hired here if they brought other desirable credentials to the table. For example, we recently had a young man on our staff who had a divinity degree from Princeton. He is just an exceptionally bright and able young man who picked up journalism skills very quickly. Our present police beat reporter has a business degree and came to us through working part time in sports because he is a sports nut.

The importance of a journalism degree -- to the extent that it's still important -- is that it demonstrates the candidate has an interest in the field and enough smarts to graduate from college. Beyond that, in my opinion, most journalism degrees are virtually worthless. Few who possess them bring any substantive skills to the job and are usually hard-pressed to write a junior high school essay, much less a newspaper article. I think this is a failure on all levels of the educational system rather than an indictment of students' intelligence. They pick up almost all the skills they need on the job.

Of course, there are still some strong journalism schools out there -- University of Missouri is the first to come to my mind -- but most simply do not teach students the skills they need.

If I were to advise an aspiring journalist, I would recommend a non-journalism major in a specialty field -- economics, finance, medicine, environmental, etc. -- and a minor in journalism. I believe a good internship at a solid newspaper is also extremely valuable.

What would you say the skills are that the reporters have to learn on the job? The most crucial ones, at least -- the first ones you have to teach them.

Is it reporting ethics or skills, or more mechanical things like writing to length, hitting a deadline, or even more basic such as simply determining what the story is, writing it coherently and using spellcheck before they turn it in?

First, a caveat: There is a danger of tarring every applicant with an overly broad brush. That's neither accurate nor fair. What I'm talking about is trends.

The most notable is a lack of the most basic writing skills -- sentence construction, the ability to match subject and verb, spelling, punctuation, etc. I'm talking about knowing the difference between than and then, your and you're, that noone is not a substitute for nobody (let alone a word). Proper use of commas has become a lost art. An increasing number of graduates are coming to the job without the rudiments of plain writing.

Certainly most newbies need help with coherent writing, finding a focus, effective storytelling. That's to be expected. You can't expect a 22-year-old graduate to come to you already fine-tuned. But we should expect them to have mastered the essentials of proper writing.

Presumably, a pharmacy graduate goes to the first job knowing the basics of dispensing medicine. We can't make the same presumption in journalism.

The other trend (which you didn't ask about, but I'm going to tell you about anyway) is a lack of fire in the belly. The newer generation of journalists seems to be satisfied to come to work, get an assignment from an old codger like me, turn a journeyman's job at best, and be out of the office by 5 p.m. The industry might be as much to blame as the new journalist in this regard, because that degree of intensity toward the craft is not as encouraged as it once was.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Leabo scholarship fund: $1,500 and counting

I am delighted to report that as of today, donations to the Leabo scholarship fund will be tax-deductible. This is because the funds will now be handled through the Texas A&M Foundation, which means the mailing address has changed -- checks now should be mailed straight to the Foundation, not to FJSA. For full details go to


The fund is up to $1,500! (And we are working with those who've already donated so they get the deduction too. Least we can do to say thanks.)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Kate (Arnold) Travis '97/'99: Blogging in Cambridge

Thank you very much, Kate, for sending this! Read up on a giant spider parked on the Thames, the crack in the floor of the Tate Modern and gathering in a London sports bar to watch A&M beat the Longhorns:

Hi there,

This is in response to your call for blogs for the Aggie Journalists site. This might be too far from journalism to add to the site, but I thought I'd send it along. My husband and I are blogging about our experiences living in Cambridge, England: http://dceditorsincambridge.blogspot.com/. I'm JOUR '97 and STJR '99, and am now a freelance science/medical journalist and editor. I stumbled on the Aggie Journalist blog a while back and am enjoying it!


Kate (Arnold) Travis

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Rojas '10 bound for NYT Institute in January

Rick Rojas '10, a sophomore political science major from Beaumont and the Battalion's enterprise editor, is one of 20 students selected for the January 2008 New York Times Institute on Student Journalism, Jan. 2-12 at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He said he applied after hearing about the program from Kathleen McElroy '81.

Rick, who's also served as city editor for the Batt, will be focusing on reporting while he's there. I asked him to tell me a little about the program and he kindly did so:

The New York Times Institute on Student Journalism is a program offered twice a year — once for student members of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the other for students of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The one in January, which I am attending, is for NAHJ.

From what I understand, the participants work with editors and reporters from The Times and The Boston Globe, and we put out a publication of some sort for the sake of clips. I'm not sure if it's daily or weekly or just one for the entire two weeks.

Ms. McElroy told me about the program.

I'm really looking forward to going because having such talented people teach me and critically review my writing will be extremely helpful. Plus, I would love to work for someplace like the Times...and meeting people there may help me get my foot in the door for the future!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Columnist? Beat writer? Talk to Batt this spring

The Battalion is seeking 400 speakers for the spring semester. Columns and beat writing are very in-demand topics.

Contact adviser Cheri Shipman if you are interested in coming by the 400 meeting (4 p.m. Sundays) to speak to the staff, and possibly hang out afterwards to help them get the Monday edition rolling.

Also, I believe there is often pizza ...

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Hiring/J-degree: Longview News-Journal

With the kind help of some of the top journalists who do the actual hiring around the state, I've reopened this series in which professionals answer a question that students often ask me: Do you need a journalism degree to get hired in the field?

In coming weeks, I'll post responses from the Wichita Falls Times Record News, the Victoria Advocate, the Killeen Daily Herald and the Galveston County Daily News. If you or someone at your news outlet would be interested in contributing responses to the three questions below, I would be absolutely delighted to include them; I'd like to represent a wide range of newspapers as well as broadcast and Web news.

Many thanks to Juan Elizondo, Managing Editor of the Longview News-Journal, for his answers that kick off this round!

When you hire a reporter or a copy editor, how important is it for an applicant to have a journalism degree?

We hire a lot of folks pretty fresh from college, so a journalism degree is a little more important for us than it is for some of your other respondents.

Why do you look for a journalism degree, or what do you look for instead of that?
We have a small newsroom staff, so a j-school introduction to basic reporting, writing, design, newspaper photography, videography and ethics is important.

We will hire an applicant who has no j degree if that person has newspaper experience, clips that show a range of abilities and good references.

An application that doesn't include newsroom internships or some kind of newspaper experience, with or without a j-degree, doesn't get much attention.

Is the picture different for entry-level applicants vs. experienced applicants?
Yes. A degree isn't very important for an applicant with a fair amount of experience. In those cases, I look closely at where folks have worked and the progression of newspapers. Short stays, a bunch of lateral moves or no obvious progression raise flags for me.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Freelance a story in North Texas

Carrie Pierce '06 at Addison Magazine (a quarterly publication in North Dallas) is looking for a freelance writer to do an upcoming cover story.

I'll get a contact posted here soon but for now just e-mail me and I'll forward it on.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Condolences to the Steffy family

For those who know Loren Steffy '86: His dad passed away Thursday and there will be a memorial Dec. 8 at 10 a.m. in Bryan, at the Callaway-Jones Funeral Home.

From the Eagle's story: J. Richard Steffy was "a pioneer and a legend in A&M's nautical archaeology department, colleagues said. ... Steffy, a founding member of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M, worked on excavations in more than 30 countries, wrote books, received a MacArthur Fellowship and lectured all over the world."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Nash '77: 'Shopping for Hope' video

Sunny Nash's photo exhibit in Long Beach has closed, but her Web site has the story of how she began photographing vanishing storefront churches across America in Houston, and includes some of the photos and video presentations as well.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Volunteer with FJSA, even long-distance

FJSA has a new volunteer page with a variety of ways to help students, both long-distance and on-campus. For example, folks can:
  • Investigate ways FJSA might be able to get A&M a grant
  • Give a student feedback on clips (one-time or ongoing)
  • Speak to A&M classes or talk to the Batt/Aggieland staff
Students can sign up on the same page to request assistance from former students.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Nothing good on TV? Watch some Batt video!

Happy Thanksgiving to all. If you're planning to settle down and watch TV after your turkey, here's dessert: Batt videos! (No writers' strike here.)

On the Batt's homepage, they link to staff videos including coverage of Fish Fest starring Granger Smith '02 (he of "We Bleed Maroon") and "The Batt Asks" for student opinions on Student Bonfire and Bonfire Remembrance Week.

If your installed Flash player is feeble, as mine apparently was, you can still turn to Batt video on YouTube and watch clips on topics including:
"Aggie Nights, not the kind on Northgate"
"Batt Asks: MSC Renovations"
"Tellus and Thomas tell it like it is" (featuring the ever-quotable Martellus Bennett)

Other student groups are using YouTube as well; one example is this promotional video for the Aggie Wranglers dance group, showing what some people who really know how to jitterbug can do. Ah, back in Old Army days ... (I was never even remotely this good. But it sure was fun.)

Among hundreds of A&M-related videos on YouTube, a few of the most-viewed are the much-emailed "Leave Coach Fran Alone," itself a parody of a YouTube video defending poor, misunderstood Britney Spears; lots of great Aggie Band halftime performances; numerous sports highlights, including Quentin Coryatt encouraging some people to sit down and Acie Law doing his game-saving thing; some perhaps less proud moments as an ABC camera captured the origin of "Squeeze, Army!" on tape, and, oh dear, well, after that I'll leave you with highlights from the 1990 Holiday Bowl. Whoop and BTHOtu!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Send your blog/Web site

Ags, if you have a blog or Web site you'd like me to link to, I've started a links section over there in the rail. Just send 'em my way. Here's some good ones that I've come across to start it off:

James Bernsen is a Navy intelligence officer blogging away from Baghdad. Roy Bragg is a writer-at-large for the San Antonio Express-News. Jayme Lynn Blaschke is a sci-fi and fantasy writer. Roland Martin, among his many hats, is a radio host and a CNN contributor - also check CNN.com for his commentaries, both written and video. Dave Thomas blogs for the Austin American-Statesman. Don T. Forse, Jr., writes a self-syndicated column. Whitney Little graduated in May and is interning for Jossip in New York.

Paperless news in a narrow-interest market

The folks at Corante's Rebuilding Media group blog write about a number of interesting concepts:
Also, they reiterate the "Newspapers will go to e-paper" idea referred to below (and many other places, no doubt.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Report from the Skip Leabo celebration

Photo: Ken Sury '86, Kirsten Voinis '87, Kathy Leabo, Andy Leabo Martinez, Karl Pallmeyer '86 and Frank Christlieb '83.

Many thanks to Kirsten Voinis for sending this description and photo from Sunday's Skip Leabo celebration:


Thought you all might like to hear about Skip Leabo's "Celebration Service" in Austin on Sunday. I say "Celebration Service" because his family was clear that Skip would not want a traditional memorial, but would want everyone to celebrate his life.

Writing about a celebration of Skip makes me a little nervous. I can picture him slashing this to bits with his red pen and sending it back from the great beyond.

Anyway, here goes - about 45 family members, friends, colleagues and former students attended the informal gathering in Austin. As a slide show scrolled through pictures of Skip from birth to his later years, people toasted Skip and shared their memories.

During a short program conducted by Skip's son, Pete Leabo, some of those in attendance shared stories about Skip. Among those speaking were his former students Frank Christlieb '83 of Dallas and Ken Sury '86 of Waco. Both talked about how while Skip's red pen could be merciless, it also could dispense kind words that had the power to influence future careers.

All of Skip's family - wife Kathy, daughters Andy and Kris, son Pete and his grandchildren were present. On Saturday, they had scattered Skip's ashes at sea in the Aransas Pass area off the Texas coast.

In addition to Frank and Ken, Karl Pallmeyer '86 and I were the only former students present. See the attached photo - left to right, Ken, Kirsten, Kathy Leabo, Andy Leabo Martinez, Karl and Frank.

Bob and Pattie Rogers were supposed to attend, but Pattie got sick and Bob stayed home with her.

If you still want to share your remembrances of Skip, it's not too late - you can email them to Kathy at skip.leabo@gmail.com.

Monday, November 12, 2007

DeFrank '67 speaks Tuesday at Bush library

Press release from A&M:

From: Texas A&M Newswire
Subject: Award-Winning Journalist, Thomas M. DeFrank, To Speak At George Bush Presidential Library Center

COLLEGE STATION, Texas, Nov. 12, 2007 – Texas A&M graduate Thomas M. DeFrank, an award-winning veteran political journalist and author, will present the Kay and Britt Rice Lecture at Texas A&M’s George Bush Presidential Library Center Tuesday (Nov. 13) at 5 p.m. He is expected to discuss highlights of his newly published book, Write It When I’m Gone, which covers a series of private interviews with the late President Gerald Ford conducted over the course of 16 years.
DeFrank is a 1967 journalism graduate of Texas A&M and a former editor of The Battalion. He has been covering presidents, the White House and Washington politics since the administration of Lyndon Johnson. As Washington bureau chief for the New York Daily News, he directs coverage of the nation’s capital for one of the country’s largest metropolitan daily newspapers. DeFrank was Newsweek’s senior White House correspondent for a quarter century and also served as deputy chief of the magazine’s Washington bureau for 12 years. He is second only to the legendary Helen Thomas in terms of longevity on the White House beat.
DeFrank is the coauthor of the 1996 bestseller Bare Knuckles and Back Rooms, The Politics of Diplomacy, and Quest for the Presidency 1992, and is a frequent guest on public affairs television programs, including Hardball with Chris Matthews, Larry King Live, Charlie Rose, CNN Inside Politics and C-SPAN.
The program will include an audience question-and-answer session and will be followed by a book signing. The Kay and Britt Rice Lecture Series is an endowed program designed to address emerging topics and current events of interest to members of our international, national, state and local communities, noted a spokesperson for the sponsoring George Bush Presidential Library Foundation. The purpose of the series is to bring to the Texas A&M campus prominent experts and central figures in current issues of public interest, the spokesperson added.
This is a ticketed event. Free tickets are available at KBTX-TV, WTAW, The Bryan/College Station Eagle, Texas A&M University MSC Box Office, The Bryan/College Station Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Museum at the George Bush Presidential Library. For information, call (979) 862-2251.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

John Wagner ’84: A Skip Leabo memory

The memorial for Skip Leabo is today in Austin. John wrote this for the family and kindly permits it to be published here too:

Given the tremendous number of hours I worked in Reed McDonald and my poor academic performance (no doubt the two are linked), I have thankfully forgotten much from my college days.

But I do remember a headline writing lab with the late, great Skip Leabo in which we had to hand-write (and count) our heds as if we were working the night shift at an old-time newspaper. We met in the Battalion newsroom (I was usually already there) and Professor Leabo worked as the “editor,” handing down AP stories to his “assistants” and requiring us to turn around snappy headlines quickly.

He was tough as nails and quick to throw back any headline that either didn't fit perfectly or didn't convey the right message. I remember dreading that class because it was very difficult. But I sure learned a lot and it prepared me for my first real job, where I spent many a night writing headlines.

Of course, in that job we had terminals that determined whether our choice words would fit … and we could even change the size a point or two to make that prize-winner squeeze in.

The Battalion had those, as well. But Professor Leabo knew that making us count by hand was teaching us to use our minds and our creativity. And he was right.

I learned a lot from journalism professors like Skip Leabo … lessons that continue to serve me well today, two decades later. Confidence. Discipline. The willingness to think beyond the obvious.

And yes, how to write a headline. And make it fit!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Sunny Nash ’77: A Skip Leabo memory

Sunny wrote this for the family and kindly permits it to be published here too:

My name is Sunny Nash '77, author of "Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's," Texas A&M University Press.

I am the first black woman, maybe the first black student, to receive a journalism degree from Texas A&M. Skip was my first advisor and my first academic contact with the Department. He made the difference in my attending the University and continuing to graduation. He was the bright spot in many of my sometimes dark days in a place that didn't seem to want me.

In those early days, shortly after the great push of the Civil Rights Movement but before racial entitlements and the entrenchment of academic affirmative action, Skip seemed to have something to prove about race and I do not mind that he used me to make his point. In 1975, he asked me compete for a scholarship from a major Texas newspaper, which I won. I had been afraid to submit my application. I thought I would not be considered because I was black.

Skip said, "They don't know what color you are. Need a stamp?"

I will never forget Skip. Please pass this along to his family.
Sunny Nash

Friday, November 9, 2007

Job survey, mid-November: Aggieland calling

If you have experienced any longings to return to the mothership now that there's a Starbucks on Northgate (I swear it's true), there are currently some excellent opportunities to do so. First off, the Bryan-College Station Eagle needs two copy editor/designers with experience, one full-time, one 25-30 hrs/week. Job includes doing section fronts and the front page, and it is true, as they mention, that many people have used the Eagle as a launchpad to major metro papers.

In fact, the Eagle has helped so many Aggie journalists that I'd like to ask everyone who reads this to do them a good turn by sending this on to any strong candidates, or folks who might know strong candidates.

Second, the Association of Former Students is looking for a managing editor for the Texas Aggie magazine, salary $45,000-$50,000, a position that includes being the magazine's lead writer and some Association duties. Minimum requirements include 3 years reporting/writing experience, strong interpersonal skills and (I translate loosely) bein' a good Ag.

The Associated Press wants a Valley correspondent ... The Dallas Morning News needs an arts and entertainment editor with expertise in popular music including rock, country, rap and jazz; 3 years' supervisory experience and ability to work with reporters, designers and the Web ... DMN also needs an assistant travel editor -- an interesting position that combines copy editing, assigning and travel reporting -- as well as a copy editor for Al Dia, its Spanish-language publication ... KXAN, the Austin NBC affiliate, needs a news anchor/reporter to complement an established morning male anchor (I believe this is the 5-7 a.m. slot with Chris Willis); 2 years' anchor experience required ...

Amarillo Globe-News needs a copy chief and a copy editor/designer ... Beaumont Enterprise is looking for two copy editors, preferably with sports experience; they note that these jobs are open because two folks went to the Houston Chronicle ... Abilene Reporter-News, which I think has a real good-looking Web site, seeks a desk supervisor for both Web and print, salary $50,000 to $60,000, as well as a print/online designer (noting that its last four lead designers jumped to major metros) and print/online copy editor ... Killeen Daily Herald needs a night city editor ... Midland Reporter-Telegram needs a GA reporter and a government reporter ... Temple Daily Telegram seeks a city editor, a reporter with 6 years' experience and an arts and entertainment writer (journalism/communications degree and experience preferred) ... The Brownsville Herald needs a lead designer ... and, in alternative media, the Dallas Observer needs an editor.

The Marlin Democrat seeks a publisher ... Marshall News Messenger needs a copy editor/designer, salary $25,000-$30,000 ... Waxahachie Daily Light needs a lead reporter ... Uvalde Leader-News needs a GA, salary $20,000-$25,000 ... Medina Valley Times also needs a GA reporter ... Tomball Magnolia Tribune (currently my favorite name outside the Avalanche-Journal) seeks an experienced reporter, journalism degree preferred, hours mostly Mon-Fri ... the Marble Falls office of Highland Lakes Newspapers needs a copy editor/reporter ... the weekly Fredericksburg Standard Radio Post is looking for a reporter, salary $20,000-$25,000 ...

... and last but not least, the Lockhart Post-Register needs a news editor, salary $35,000-$40,000, who has editing, writing, photo and Quark layout abilities and a strong love for community journalism. When Lockhart says they are the Barbecue Capital of Texas, they're not kidding (though others have a claim, too).

A little more on columnist Don T. Forse, Jr. ‘96

After I linked to a recent column of his, Don was kind enough to write in and add some detail:

… You mentioned that I write for the Hardin County News. While technically correct, there is more to the story.
I actually write a self-syndicated column which appears in several newspapers, including the Hardin County News, Orange County News and Mid County Chronicle. I have also been picked by the Beaumont Enterprise and Waco Tribune-Herald. Columns are distributed twice weekly and are also featured on my personal blog at www.donforse.blogspot.com.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Batt podcast: Aftermath of loss to OU

On the Battalion Sports Podcast, host Chris Hokanson, Editor in Chief Brent Shirley and writer Travis Measley try to answer tough questions, like why Mike Goodson didn't play in the first half. (Happier previous topics include A&M's fourth straight Big 12 soccer championship.)

Buyouts that (sadly) do not involve $8 million

A Houston Press blog is tracking rumors and news from the layoffs and buyouts at the Chronicle, here and here. Romenesko has Editor Jeff Cohen's memo to staff.

Amid buyouts at the San Antonio Express-News, Romenesko also has comments/criticisms from a staffer and the response from Editor Robert Rivard here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Rob Scichili ’90: ‘Dream job’ with Dallas Stars

Howdy Ags, Rob Scichili (pronounced shick-lee) here from Frisco, Texas. I'm A&M class of '90 (BS in Journalism w minor in Business Mgmt). A few people at the blog asked if I would share a little bit about my job and my career since it is in pro sports and has been rather exciting, I must admit.

I am currently Asst. Vice President of Communications for the Dallas Stars Hockey Club. I oversee all of the team's efforts in publicity and PR, as well as our team publications and web site - DallasStars.com. This is my sixth season with the Stars and my 18th in pro sports (has it really been that long?!). Time flies.

A lot of people ask me, "How did you get that job?" The answer is quite simple really - I was lucky enough to land an internship with the Dallas Mavericks upon graduation in May of 1990 and never looked back. That's the hard part - getting your foot in the door. After that, it's all about doing the best job you can do and networking. I spent two years with the Mavericks before I was tapped by a contact I had made with the Minnesota Timberwolves and the next thing you know I was in the Twin Cities. From there it was on to the expansion Mighty Ducks of Anaheim hockey team and the Walt Disney Company (which was a great experience). I spent seven years with the Ducks and Disney Sports before moving back to Dallas in 2000 to work with the Byron Nelson Golf Classic (more networking brought me home). I was only there a year before joining up with the brand new MLB.com, working with the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals web sites. Then the Stars job came open and I found myself with my dream job - in my hometown of Dallas working for the sport that I grew to love in the 90's. The Stars are a great organization and they have treated me well.

I've been an Aggie Football season ticket holder since I moved back in 2000 and love coming back on Saturdays in the Fall. Sports is a passion of mine and I have been lucky enough to make it a career. I love getting up and going to work in the morning. One of the fun things I am involved in right now is the publicity surrounding Dallas Stars center Mike Modano's pursuit of the American points record by a player in the NHL.

Any of you Aggies that are looking for a career in sports should go for it. It's all about experience and "who you know," as they say. But honestly it's more about "who knows you." Get yourself out there, volunteer, find an internship with a team or league. It can be at any level of sports; there are tons of minor league teams you can get experience in and it is a lot of fun. Dress for the job you want and look presentable (I know that sounds stupid but you should see some of the kids that I see coming in for interviews these days!).

When you love your job you'll go 110% every day and that is the blessing that I have had in my career so far. I count my lucky stars (no pun intended) and try and give people advice and opportunities I was given when I was starting out. You Aggies that are still in school - get over to the Athletics Dept and volunteer. Work for FREE. Those that are worried about compensation are the ones left behind because you are limiting your opportunities. Any money you take home early-on is a bonus. Your payment is a wealth of experience for your resume and invaluable contacts along the way. Your degree from A&M is very valuable. But the contacts you make with other Aggies and simply other people in the business is what will get you a job.

Good luck to all of you! My sportsmanship tip of the day - wear your A&M gear after a loss (not just after wins). Be proud of being an Aggie. We may have been outscored in the game or whatever but our rings will always shine brightly.

Gig 'em and go Stars!

- Rob
rscichili (at) dallasstars.com

We're bad, we're nationwide

You may've noticed there's now a link to an RSS feed for this blog over there in the rail, thanks to a suggestion from Roy Bragg (let me know if it's working OK; I'm not terribly techy). We also now have a LinkedIn group, a mere infant compared to our Facebook group, which is 76 members strong and growing. (LinkedIn, or "Facebook for old people like me" as I call it, doesn't alert me when someone applies to the group, so if "approval" takes a long time it only means I've been lax in checking - feel free to holler at me.)

And here's a recent snapshot of the folks who read this blog. Say cheese!

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Rev Bev (Hamilton ’84) checks in from It’lee

Writing from the small town of Italy (pronounced It'lee), Tx, just south of Waxahachie, where I am the pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Italy. Graduated in 2004 from Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University; 1984 journalism graduate of Texas A&M and Batt Rat alum. Spent a year at Tyler Morning Telegraph and two years at the now-defunct Dallas Times Herald as staff writer before jumping to Corporate America, where I spent 12 years in sales support, marketing, tech support, analysis/planning & strategy with EDS, a Fortune 50 consulting & information services company in the North Dallas area. Odd jobs in research, tech support, web mastering, and grant writing while in graduate school. Now in my 3rd year of ministry and loving it! Was amazed at the large number of fellow journalists in seminary. Check out our new web site at http://www.fumcitaly.com. Live with my high school age son, 2 dogs, and 3 cats. email: revbevumc (at) gmail.com

- Rev Bev Hamilton :)

In the year 2017 ...

Marshall Loeb of MarketWatch writes that within a few years:
  • We'll all carry paper-thin 8.5x11 computer screens that work like an iPhone.
  • A major newspaper will shut its print operation, going Web-only, and the others will fall like dominoes.
  • Journalists' jobs will change permanently and become richer.
  • Consumers will glory in so much free content at their fingertips.
Is the part in the middle where most of us get fired? However, I do really like this part:
These heady prospects may well be the main reason that so many journalism professors say that more and more of the brightest and best students are applying for journalism school now.
And heck yes, I want my shiny Jetsons tablet. I can absolutely see myself carrying an electronic piece of paper around instead of my beat-up calendar.

Your thoughts on 2017?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Sunny Nash '77 photo exhibit tonight

The Immanuel Center for Conscious Living in Long Beach, Calif., will hold a reception at 7 p.m. for photographer and author Sunny Nash. Fifty images from her collection 'Shopping for Hope,' a photographic study of storefront churches across the U.S., are on display at the center through Nov. 17. Nash will also be signing her book "Bigmama Didn't Shop at Woolworth's."

See some of the images and find more information here.

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.