Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Meet Dave Thomas '93, Austin American-Statesman

Dave Thomas
Class of '93
Austin American-Statesman (5+ years)
Copy editor, designer, blogger, infrequent reporter (I hope to join the maintenance department this summer so I can be the first journalist to write a story, edit it, design the page, mow the grass out front and blog about the whole thang)

I wanted, desperately, to be a columnist for The Battalion. I applied semester after semester. Finally, as my college career was winding down, I checked "copy editor" as my second choice on the application because I wasn't really sure what they did. By the time I made it back to the dorm the phone was ringing and here I am today. I'm still not a damn columnist.

I began at the Batt in the summer of '92 on the day I turned 21 (cue Merle Haggard tape) and found that both journalism and being of legal drinking age suited me well. And to think I spent 75% of my college days as a very serious Corps of Cadets guy. The Batt didn't prevent me from finishing out my Corps senior year in a respectable fashion, but that legal drinking age almost did me in.

The copy desk must have suited me well, because I stayed on the desk in the basement of the Reed McDonald building for Fall '92, Spring '93, Summer '93 and Fall '93. This is the spot for the obligatory shout-out to fellow Battalion folks: So I give my thanks to Mack Harrison, Kyle Burnett and Sue Owen for putting up with me. Also a howdy to Chris Whitley and Heather Winch. The rest of you folks know who you are.

My career continued, post-graduation, at the San Angelo Standard-Times, where I was a copy editor, designer and unofficial music writer for 2 years and 4 months. I then moved to Austin to become a freelance writer. After 2 months of blissful unemployment and 2 months of construction work, I became a graphics editor at the Victoria Advocate. For 6 months, I played a lot of basketball and pretended to have graphical skills. Then fellow Ags Todd Stone and Jay Robbins convinced me to come to Beaumont. I spent a year as copy editor and, after everyone else bailed out, a long year as news editor.

It was then that my career path pointed toward, say, the Dallas Morning News, the New York Times, the Daily Planet ... but no, I went back to San Angelo. For another 2 years and 4 months, I was news editor (and music columnist! unpaid!) there, until Scripps Howard convinced me that they had no intention of letting me happily do good journalism at my (adopted) hometown newspaper.

I came to Austin in January, 2002 and my first day at the Statesman was the day that Dave Thomas died. No, that's not a metaphor. I'm talking about the hamburger guy. Whee.

I married a San Antonio girl who has a Missouri journalism degree and works on "The Dark Side" -- advertising. They have "Beer Fridays." I've been wondering which side is the Dark Side. We have one child (that's the first time I've ever typed that ... he is 3 weeks old). (editor's note: I'm late posting this and the little guy is now more than a month old./sue)

I did sort of model this introduction on Doug Pils' bio, so I have to admit here that I am not currently doing anything useful to help A&M journalism. But, once my boy is sleeping through the night, I promise to be more helpful.

You can reach me at dthomas (at) statesman.com.