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.