Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Retirement party Jan. 13 for Mayes '69

Thank you to Diane Bowen for this item! Note: Mayes is also a former Battalion editor.

Former journalism professor Dave Mayes is retiring from Texas A&M AgriLife Communications. A reception honoring him will be held at 5–6:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 13, 2010, at the Community Center, TAMU Student Apartment Complex, 202 Charles Haltom Ave., College Station, Texas

Cards and letters to be included in a memory book may be sent to Judy Winn, TAMU 2112, College Station, Texas 77843-2112 or j-winn2@tamu.edu, 979.845.2808.

Contributions toward a gift may also be sent to Lonnette Ray, TAMU 2112, College Station, TX 77843-2112, 979.862.1460. Please make checks payable to Texas AgriLife Extension.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

B-CS Eagle seeks full-time copy editor

Talented copy editor needed

Primary responsibilities include headline writing, copy editing, layout and design on deadline. Must have an eye for detail and a passion for grammar, usage and style. Familiarity with newspaper design preferred, as is knowledge of AP style.

Must have solid grasp of a design program (ex. QuarkXPress, InDesign), be proficient on Macintosh platform. Should have some experience working with photo editing and graphics software (PhotoShop, Adobe Illustrator) and have a working knowledge of Web publishing.

Must be willing to be part of a collaborative team, take the initiative but also follow directions and must be willing to work nights and weekends.

The Bryan-College Station Eagle is a small newspaper that thinks like a major metro, which is where many of our staffers go from here. Our award-winning reporters and sports writers cover an eight-county area. Our community is home to two colleges, including Texas A&M. The area offers an active nightlife and arts scene, great schools and all that Texas A&M University and Blinn College have to offer.

We highly value our community and our employees, who are compensated with a good benefits package (health insurance/401K) and competitive pay. Send cover letter, clips and resume to Kelly Brown, managing editor, 1729 Briarcrest Drive, Bryan, 77802 or e- mail her at kelly.brown@theeagle.com. No phone calls please.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Reporter gets local angle on faraway story, fast

Wherever you are in the country, sometimes national news will happen that affects your readers. The best journalists quickly find what's relevant for their particular audience and present it usefully. In this case, I was so impressed by a story turned around quickly by the Austin American-Statesman's Helen Anders that I asked her to write me a little bit on how she put the story together.

It's perhaps a fairly ordinary type of story -- as I said, it's standard practice to find the local angle on a story, or to produce helpful "If you go" information -- but to me, it's the expertise and authority Anders musters that make this piece noteworthy.

The news event here is the UT Longhorns earning a spot in college football's national title game. Anders covers travel. Are the two connected? Oh, yes. Lots of our readers in Austin have suddenly decided they really, really want to be in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 7.

Earlier this week, Anders put in a few hours' worth of work and produced a story so packed with insider-ish detail that I actually went over to her desk and asked if she'd ever lived in Pasadena. Nope; she's just a good reporter. Here's how she describes it:
I knew a little about Pasadena to start with -- a couple of restaurants and museums I'd been to. Then I e-mailed a woman who had posted a comment on an earlier blog about Pasadena who obviously was a local. Got her recommendations. Then I chatted with a woman at the Convention and Visitors Bureau and got her recommendations, which I couldn't attribute because a CVB always gets in trouble if it recommends particular establishments. Still, these people know what's good.

Then I called a local museum and chatted with the PR guy about where he eats. Then to get more information on the Rose Bowl area specifically and getting to the game, I googled "Rose Bowl transportation" and got that really helpful link and info that I posted on parking and such. Kayak.com and the CVB Web site gave me leads for checking flights and hotels (which I will update again momentarily, by the way).
Even if I'd never been to Pasadena, I could've gotten a good feel for the place from my desk.

The key here is to make sure all your info is current. For example, if you read about a shuttle bus on a Web site, make sure that shuttle hasn't been canceled by budget cuts. (Some publications are still writing about our Dillo, alas.) That's a matter of checking Nexis or, if you don't have Nexis, going to the official Web site of whatever entity runs the shuttle bus.

How long did all this take me? A few hours.

Oh, and she filed early enough that we got it on the Web before all the plane seats were sold out -- then revised and updated it twice before it ever saw print.
Thank you again, Helen, for writing this up!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Hot gifts for the Aggie Journalist on your list!

Cyber Monday is crashing the servers, and we're here to cash in. Even more goofy products have been added to our Aggie Journalists store! Ooo, a T-shirt and a mousepad:

While these products are mostly offered for your entertainment, I hasten to assure you that 1) They are real; 2) You can buy them; and 3) All profits -- $2 per shirt -- go to journalism scholarships at A&M. Bumpersticker anyone?
But, also, one of the main problems facing our journalism program is that most people -- from our industry colleagues to Texas high school seniors -- think A&M doesn't teach journalism any more. So buy a shirt and spread the word! (And if you've got an idea for more shirts, even better. Send 'em in!)

Not related to A&M journalism (but still benefiting A&M journalism scholarships) are these new designs, fresh from the front lines. Explanations, in order:

"Work harder...": This is how a straight-shooting news editor once summed up a department heads' meeting for his staff. "Ladies' Pages": Formerly just an outdated term, now derogatory, for the features section - but we're takin' it back! In form-fitting cotton! With pink curlicues! "MSM: That's right baby, I'm part of the problem": Battered and bruised, but still here, we're the mainstream (or lamestream) media. Bad punctuation and all!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wright '92 on Chicago biz 'Top 40 under 40' list

1992 A&M journalism grad Sherman Wright's marketing company, Commonground, landed him and his partner in a Chicago business magazine's list of young, influential businessfolk. Click here to see him interviewed (in a very slick and visually appealing interface, by the way) on Chicagobusiness.com.

More, from an interview by Shamontiel Vaughn:

Chicago marketing company Commonground was honored this year as two of the four African-Americans in Crain’s Chicago Business Magazine’s annual Top 40 under 40 list for 2009. Both Sherman Wright and Ahmad Islam have an impressive background in marketing, especially from a multicultural standpoint.
Shamontiel: Your company Commonground emphasizes multiculturalism. Why is diversity in marketing and advertising so important to you? How do you get your clients to want diversity?

Sherman Wright: I think the biggest challenge is getting [marketing agencies] to break tradition. Most of your organizations are not as nimble, and they’ve been doing things a certain way. A lot of times, as far as those individuals at the top don’t necessarily have visibility about what’s going on in the marketplace because they’re so tied up into the business from a functional standpoint. As business people if you can show them a model that works and benefits them, I think they’re more open than they’ve been in the past, especially with the challenges you’re seeing in these times.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A&M journalism hosts Texas Monthly 'Bonfire' author

Look for more panels and events like this as Dale Rice works to raise the profile of Journalism Studies on the A&M campus. Rice writes:

Journalism Studies hosted Texas Monthly writer Pamela Colloff on campus this week.
Here is what we did on Tuesday:

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. – Lunch with the newly formed A&M student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

12:45-1:45 p.m. — Meeting with JOUR 303, the advanced media writing class, to discuss their stories on the Bonfire Memorial.

2:15-3:15 p.m. — The story behind the story: A Q&A with Texas Monthly writer Pamela Colloff, author of this month’s cover story on Bonfire.

3:45-4:45 p.m. — The Bonfire Memorial’s place on campus: A panel discussion on the Memorial and what it has come to represent on campus.
  • Pamela Colloff, writer, Texas Monthly
  • Dr. Sylvia Grider, Professor Emerita, Department of Anthropology; collected and cataloged more than 3,000 mementos left at the site after the tragedy
  • George Rogers, Professor, Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, School of Architecture; co-chair of the Memorial selection committee
  • Ryan Dudley, Class of 2010, chair of MSC Hospitality, the service organization that conducts tours of the Bonfire Memorial
  • Dr. Jennifer Jones Barbour, assistant professor, Department of Communication; panel moderator who conducts research on memorials

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Texas A&M chapter of SPJ revived

Last heard from over a decade ago, the Texas A&M chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists lives again. The group's adviser-to-be and head of Journalism Studies, Dale Rice, says:
The new SPJ chapter will elect officers and adopt by-laws on Dec. 2.
The core group of students has already held three organizational meetings.
After last night's meeting, they established a Facebook page. Here's the link:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Aggie journalists record, reflect on Bonfire anniversary

The 20-page special edition of The Battalion marking the 10th anniversary of the deadly Bonfire collapse came out yesterday (its cover is the image at left). KBTX interviewed Batt staffers, including Amanda Casanova '10 and Matthew Woolbright '12, about their work preparing the issue; you can watch that video here.

Manager of Student Publications Bob Wegener said, "I'm really proud of The Batt staff's work. People have been calling/e-mailing this morning to request extra copies."

You can read the full special edition online here.

Today, Batt staffer Doug Klembara '11 posted some marvelous images and a moving description of the 2:42 a.m. vigil on his blog. He gave me permission to reproduce the image below, of Aggies around the granite slab that marks where Centerpole stood. More of his photos are on his blog and his Flickr photostream.

At the Austin American-Statesman, Jay Janner '91 illustrated both the print and online coverage with his wonderful photographs. A gallery can be viewed here.

The San Antonio Express-News' Roy Bragg '80 wrote a great story about the Bonfire ceremony that both his paper and the Houston Chronicle used. Wegener said he will be using Bragg's story as a teaching tool in his work with A&M students.

Too many Aggies to count work at both the Bryan-College Station Eagle and at KBTX, which have both outdone themselves with anniversary coverage. This page lists all the Eagle's stories, and this page all the KBTX coverage.

FJSA members Nicholas Roznovsky '01 and Denise Mattox '03 did some civilian journalism. Click here for Roznovsky's excellent photos from the vigil and here for Mattox's touching remembrance of the events of that week in 1999.

My thoughts and love are with the families, the friends and relatives of the 12, with all those who worked our guts out on Bonfire through the years, with the lifelong friends I made on Bonfire and with all of the Aggie family. And now here's that Klembara photo I promised above:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Eagle posts video, remembrance page for Bonfire

The Bryan-College Station Eagle has extra coverage leading up to the 10th anniversary of the deadly Bonfire collapse. Online, the paper has a page up where readers can post their own Bonfire memories, and has posted part of a video that Timm Doolen '91 did for FJSA in 2000, titled "Explaining from the Inside – Bonfire."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Aggieland wins 2009 Pacemaker Award

Thanks to Bob and Kelly for the news!

The Texas A&M yearbook, the Aggieland, hauled in college media's top award, one of seven yearbooks to win this year's Pacemaker competition. (They've also got a cool Web site, if you haven't checked it out yet: aggieland.tamu.edu.) The Battalion won a Pacemaker last year in the newspaper category.
“The Pacemaker is college journalism’s equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize and the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a college yearbook,” said Robert Wegener, general manager of Student Media.

The press release also highlights Associated Collegiate Press honors won by Batt staffers Stephen Fogg and Chris Griffin:
Fogg, a senior marketing major from The Woodlands, won honorable mention in the “picture story” category for photo excellence. Fogg accompanied a 2009 student body presidential candidate during campaigning in the spring. He then put together a story using his photographs and captions.
Griffin, a graduate student in visualization science from New Braunfels, received $100 in third place in the cartooning awards.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

UTEP alum Sam Donaldson helps launch new J-degree

UTEP has blended two degrees, electronic media and print media, into one multimedia journalism program, and Sam Donaldson was there Monday to help publicize the new program. From the El Paso Times story:
"You can't do it the old ways. You can't go and take video and television or print, and then say I'm educated in the business that I'd like to pursue," Donaldson said. "You have to have the whole range."
The 75-year-old newsman, once ABC's White House correspondent, spoke before a crowd of more than 100 people at the University of Texas at El Paso.
Until this fall, UTEP offered degrees in electronic media, for those interested in TV and radio, and print media, for those looking to work for newspapers and magazines.
But UTEP has merged the two degrees and is launching the new bachelor of arts in multimedia journalism through the Department of Communication. Professors said the university is a pioneer in offering a program of this kind.
"We have been able to move really quickly in this direction, when a lot of other institutions with traditional media programs, it's been a little harder for them to change," said Zita Arocha, a journalism professor.

Hey, do we know anybody else who's lacking an entrenched journalism program? OK, more from the article:
Arocha said she hoped to have a multimedia training academy to teach professors at UTEP how to implement different platforms in journalism. Frank PĂ©rez, chair of the communication department, said they expect to hire one professor who can teach communication theory and journalism.
Some of the classes that the degree plan includes are multimedia storytelling, audio and video news production, ethics, investigative journalism and a news magazine class in which students produce stories for a Web site called Borderzine.com.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A&M students at college media conference in Austin

The 88th Annual ACP/CMA National College Media Convention begins today in Austin, and runs through Sunday. Batt and Aggieland staff members are among the more than 2,000 college journalists and advisers who will be attending.

Topics include digital photography, coaching writers, the business and advertising side, using free conent management systems to publish online, covering college sports, designing for mobile media, real-world multimedia reporting, getting sources to talk to you, media law, and a LOT more. Good stuff.

Track it online: The Associated College Press has a blog on the conference, and search Twitter for the hashtag #ncmc09 to follow tweets from the conference.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Batt editor, Casanova '10, gets $3,000 scholarship

The Batt's editor, Amanda Casanova '10, left, was honored Saturday with one of 15 Headliners Foundation scholarships at a luncheon in Austin where Dan Rather spoke.

Casanova (see Battalion profile and previous post on her summer internship in Abilene) is a senior English major/journalism minor at Texas A&M. The press release sent out about the Headliners honor says she began her newspaper career in the seventh grade:
"She did a newspaper for our street; it was called the Ginnway Gazette," said Teresa Casanova, Casanova's mom. "It was just a one-pager and she would feature one of the kids in (the) neighborhood, or if a family was going out of town and she would write about it."

The release notes that Casanova interned the summer before last at her hometown paper, the Lufkin Daily News. The Headliners Foundation has provided more than $1 million to college students and recognizes journalists' achievements in Texas with the Headliners Awards.

Many thanks to Cheri for the news and photos!!

Aiiieee! It's just about internship deadline time

Lots of summer internship applications are due about now (for example, the Statesman's need to be postmarked Nov. 6 or earlier). Competition is likely to be tough, and I believe A&M requirements for journalism minors' internships have tightened up, so here's some info that could help. (Please do tell me if any links are out of date!)

Visit our internships/jobs page over at aggiejournalists.com for links including:
And join our LinkedIn group, where you can connect with hundreds of Aggie journalism grads and professionals. It never hurts to have an ally at the place where you're applying. Click to join and shoot me an e-mail if you don't get approved pretty quickly ( aggiejournalists@gmail.com ).

Friday, October 23, 2009

News publisher Palmer '69 recalls past, looks to future

The editor and publisher of the Mount Pleasant Daily Tribune, Clarksville Times and Little River (Ashdown, Ark.) News, Bob Palmer '69, had a column in the Tribune this past weekend reminiscing about a slightly unusual t.u.-OU weekend:
I may actually be able to claim some notoriety or at least historical quirk. After all, how many Aggies have been to a t.u.-o.u. game - in uniform?

I'll let him tell that tale! But I did get to chat (via e-mail) a bit with him about his work.

Bob Palmer: I'm third generation with the Tribune. My grandfather, J. Frank Palmer, bought it in 1941 when it was a weekly. My father, R.B. Palmer, rejoined the paper after service in World War II. Similarly, I returned to Mount Pleasant after my service in Vietnam. I am one of the truly lucky people in this life who gets to do what he wants to do where he wants to do it. Community journalism can get very real and very personal, but I wouldn't trade my beat for any one else's.

We've been putting copy on line for more than 10 years. Still trying to get accustomed to having my roommate my senior year at A&M read last Sunday's column in Chicago before my copy was delivered at home On the whole we are surviving the most difficult economic time since the Great Depression.

More than 10 years of online copy! What pushed you to get in that early? What did you post online originally? And do you still print a "dead-tree" edition? (I'm assuming so, but you know what they say about assuming)

Palmer: We have a tradition of being innovative. My father was the second publisher in East Texas to go offset. In the '90s we had a production manager who was very techno-savvy and he created a basic page where we would post a few stories each day.

We still publish a print edition, which I believe still has a strong future. In fact we are installing a new (used) press this year. The chicken littles running around the room screaming, "Print is dead," sound a lot like earlier doomsayers who proclaimed our demise with the advent of radio and television.

Newspapers must evolve and change, but I think there will still be adequate numbers who will prefer a print edition delivered to their home at a predictable time to be attractive to advertisers. This core print base will be supplemented by on-line efforts, texting and e-mail bursts and who knows what in the future.

We live in interesting times. It remains to be seen if that is a blessing or a curse.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A giant LeBlanc '86 towers over Austin drivers

I never did get a pic of that Loren Steffy '86 billboard, but Pam LeBlanc '86, fitness reporter, auto reviewer, travel writer and all-around prolific person for the Austin American-Statesman, is currently the star of her own billboard, as well as a Statesman TV ad. She tweeted this pic the other day, noting, "Yikes! I'm towering over traffic on Ben White!!"

Monday, October 19, 2009

Batt staffers cover presidential visit in print, online

With staffers inside and out, the Battalion was all over President Barack Obama's visit Friday to Texas A&M. Inside Rudder, Obama and former president George H.W. Bush spoke; outside, a thousand or so demonstrators waved signs and chanted. It was the second visit to A&M by a sitting president in less than a year.

Here's today's front page:

Live updates were posted via Twitter – @thebattonline and @thebatt_editor (editor Amanda Casanova).

As a former Batt cohort of mine pointed out, "Kinda puts us in our place for thinking that Dan Quayle visiting in 1992 was a big deal."

Cash for positive reviews? No? Then how about a CD?

A CBS News opinion piece today goes into lots of useful detail about when, and why, accepting freebies is a good or bad idea for a supposedly unbiased news organization. And it cites some eye-opening (at least for my eyes) facts about how some unethical folks abuse the bejeebers out of the concept.

It starts off with a blogger being propositioned to write 30,000 positive reviews of an iPhone app at $1 each. (The blogger said no.)

The co-authors then peruse some specific instances:
It's OK to get a new disposable razor to test, but staying a week in a resort for free and expecting a true and honest independent review is a totally different story. Having lived and breathed journalism for twenty five years, I don't buy the idea of freebies being compatible with independent reviews.
It is actually a question of degree. Getting a book or a CD from a publisher is OK because it's only a $20 item. Getting a $200 software product, or a $500 weekend for free and expecting a balanced review is more problematic, to say the least.

Then it gets really hair-raising:
I happen to live in a country where entire segments of journalism - I'm talking of mainstream media - are corrupt. I could tell countless stories of reporters covering the auto industry who call an automaker's PR department of to get a car for a weekend escape with their girlfriends, or who get flown abroad to test a new car model (four days, five star accommodation.)

The country thus referred to is probably France, as the item's co-author is a journalist based in Paris. But yeesh.

We've all run across individual reviews that appear completely fake, but the mechanisms and specifics laid out here were creepy to read.
... a greater number of technology reviews are provided by poorly-paid freelancers instead of staff writers who are supposed to be paid enough money to be clean.
Is it then any wonder why publicists, marketers, and others intermediaries are now lusting after the blogosphere? Think about it: thousands of blogs, most of them written by penniless amateurs, not bound by any ethical rules - it's a dream come true for the flack crowd. Blogs represent a new playground in which to buy influence. Actually, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (Womma) estimates that such spending has grown from $300 million in 2003 to $1.54 billion last year.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dean who shut down A&M J-department changes post

Big thanks to FJSA's Jerry Cooper '63 for this heads-up. College of Liberal Arts dean Charles Johnson, who decided in 2003 to close Texas A&M's journalism department, will become a senior associate vice president for research effective Nov. 1, A&M has announced.

The press release says Johnson will oversee interdisciplinary programs. That sounds like it would include A&M's Journalism Studies program, which is an interdisciplinary minor. I've got questions out on that.

Another release says that Johnson's interim replacement will be executive associate dean Ben Crouch, who will serve "until the current national search for a dean of liberal arts is concluded."

Friday, October 2, 2009

J-school enrollment, grants on our Newsvine

For a dying industry, there's still a lot of money getting splashed around on new technologies and education. Our Newsvine, which focuses on journalism education in Texas and related topics, has recently linked to news on Google Wave, Spot.Us, millions in grants, the FIU J-student in the ACORN videos and the Tyler publisher's vision for the new University of North Texas J-school.

Some headlines:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

American Spectator: Death of A&M J-school 'sensible clean-up'

In an article today about "BS degrees," or fields of study which don't prepare you for anything in particular but just mill out students who have illustrated they can jump through academic hoops, the American Spectator's Alec Mouhibian writes about the death of the journalism department at Texas A&M.

His actual facts are pretty straight, though like most people, Mouhibian does not mention that tightening requirements and expanding faculty were recommended as viable, even preferred, alternatives to closing it. It wouldn't have been a "BS degree" if they'd done so. Instead, the stigma of the department being shut down is a huge problem for the current program.

Here's Mouhibian:

A typical symptom of the (BS degree) problem rose to the surface at Texas A&M in 2003, when a budget cut prompted scrutiny of its journalism department. Over 1,000 students were enrolled in the booming program. Yet the student newspaper couldn't recruit. No more than a tenth of those students, it turned out, had any interest in journalism. The rest were rejects from business.

"It was perceived as an easy degree," learned Charles Johnson, A&M's dean of Letters and Science. "The students were not too strong."

Whiff thusly caught, Johnson swung for the spray. He closed the department, relocated the faculty, and converted the program to an interdisciplinary minor to go along with study in a prospective beat. Enrollment dropped to 50, all of them committed. The sensible clean-up job ended up dooming Mr. Johnson's candidacy last year for the provost opening at American University, home to a robust journalism program on which its journalism professors pride themselves. They thought it reflected an out-of-touch, fuddy-duddy view of journalism as mere craft -- as opposed to a "way of thinking," defined by "strategic communications" -- and therefore a direct threat to its survival as a specialized academic discipline.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Got a little Old-Army Batt staff story for ya on LinkedIn

Awww, this is cool. There's some spontaneous sharing of Battalion staff tales going on over at our LinkedIn group. Very cool of Chuck Neighbors '54 (Batt managing editor, 1953-54) to get that ball rolling. Y'all jump in.

Multimedia reporting, both 1950-style and 2001-02 style... ridealongs with a Houston cops reporter in the 1960s... I'm looking forward to reading what's up next.

Somebody want to tell for the record how that bullet-hole got in the window of the Batt editor's office?

(Just click to join -- we have to "approve" you, but if that doesn't happen fast it's just 'cause Sara and I haven't logged in recently; feel free to shoot us an e-mail)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Battalion profile on its '09-10 editor, Casanova '10

Check out the Batt's profile of Editor-in-Chief Amanda Casanova '10, a senior English major and journalism minor from Lufkin. Nice! (Here's a link to the full-size readable front page, too.)

Casanova recently wrote a little post for us about her summer internship at the Abilene Reporter-News, with links to some of her stories (including my favorite, "So will Wayna take him back?" about a gentleman who publicly posted forlorn love notices around town). The post ran in our series on Batt staffers' summer 2009 internships.

You can tell she's also got buddies at the Lufkin Daily News, because they posted nice notes to her in the comments section on the Batt story :)

Whoop for Amanda!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Slideshow of FJSA Fall Reception

Thank you again to FJSA's new treasurer, Nicholas Roznovsky, who took photos at the Fall Reception and posted this slideshow. Many familiar faces here... Bob Rogers, Ed Walraven, Kelly Brown, Scot Walker, Roznovskys pere et fils, Jerry Cooper, Roy Bragg and many others; speakers including outgoing president Rob Clark, associate dean Pamela Matthews, Bob Rogers scholarship recipient Kayla Slimp; and Hall of Honor inductee Welton Jones.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

FJSA honoree Jones: Battalion was 'priceless training'

More on the 2009 FJSA Fall Reception; photo by Nicholas Roznovsky, story by Matthew Watkins (thank you both!):

Welton Jones II was this year’s Hall of Honor inductee. His reasons for studying journalism at A&M may not be relevant to today’s students, but his career should serve as an inspiration for them.

“I majored in journalism because you could choose your science,” he said. “An English degree required chemistry. You can look it up.”

That maneuver to avoid chemistry turned out to be the first step toward a career that has spanned more than 50 years. It took him from the Houston Post to the Shreveport Times to the San Diego Union-Tribune — with brief stints at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal and New York Herald Tribune along the way. Most of that time was as a theater critic and arts editor, but he did time as a cops reporter and a copy boy.

Here is how he described his journalism education:

“The journalism department encouraged the widest possible exposure to other disciplines. [The department head] encouraged the widest possible exposure to other disciplines. He designed the curriculum with a minimum number of required courses, and these were heavy on specifics: typography, photography, copy editing, head-writing. The rest were electives from elsewhere.”

He said a large part of his education also came from the Batt:

“It was priceless training. Probably the very best possible routine for me. Discipline. No girls around. Deadlines. Professional pride. Good profs. The chance to fail without disaster, which I think is a key concept in education.”

I’ve scanned his whole speech and loaded it online. It’s worth reading the entire thing. But I’ll add his closing remarks:

“Lots of things I would change in my life if I could. Majoring in journalism at Texas A&M probably isn’t one of them.”

Sunday, September 6, 2009

From the reception: What's next for A&M journalism

Heartfelt thanks to Matthew Watkins for this report!

An impressive showing by the Aggie football team and a pleasant FJSA reception made for a pretty great day Saturday.

Welton Jones II '58, the new inductee into the FJSA Hall of Honor, and Kayla Slimp, this year's recipient of the Bob Rogers scholarship, both gave inspiring speeches. More from them TK.

But first, Pam Matthews, associate dean of liberal arts, updated us on the status of the journalism program. She said she has frequent conversations with new program head Dale Rice about the future of journalism studies at A&M, and passed along some of his immediate goals:

Rice's biggest priorities for 2009-10 include reaching out...

...to high school seniors and A&M freshmen. Many of the current students at A&M only find out about the journalism program after they've been in school for a few semesters. They then have to play catch-up if they want to enroll in the program and complete all of the required classes. Rice will be speaking with top journalism students in high school and encourage them to look at A&M. He'll also try to make sure that incoming freshmen are aware of the journalism opportunities as soon as they arrive in College Station.

...to other departments to to co-sponsor journalism-related events.

....to professional news organizations in the field. That especially includes outlets willing to work with Aggie students. A great example is John Kelley at the Washington Post, who got a column by Krista Smith '09 published in his paper after working with her during the 2009 Journalists in Residence program.

Matthews also described how Rice has recognized the important role the Internet plays in the future of journalism. The JOUR 303 media writing class will add a video component to its curriculum, she said, and will publish an online magazine at the end of the semester showcasing each student's best work.

We also elected new officers. They are:

President - Douglas Pils '92
Vice President - Frank Smith '87
Secretary - Scot Walker '90
Treasurer - Nicholas Roznovsky '01

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Batt wins award from crime prevention group

Photos: Igor Kraguljac, A&M Press

At their first staff meeting of the fall semester on Thursday, Battalion staffers received the 2009 Outstanding Crime Prevention Media award from the Texas Crime Prevention Association.

University Chief of Police Elmer Schneider, Assistant Chief Bert Kretzschmar and Master Officer Kristi Hosea were there to give the plaque to the Batt's staff and its editor, Amanda Casanova. Hosea had picked up the statewide award at the association's annual meeting.

The Batt got the award for coverage of sexual assault prevention and a weekly feature on stopping crime on campus.

Batt adviser Cheri Shipman always lines up cool speakers for her staff, and this meeting was no exception:
  • College Station police PIO Lt. Rodney Sigle and Master Officer Rhonda Seaton talked about how they communicate with the A&M campus and what they're allowed to share about incidents under investigation;
  • A&M's VP of marketing and communication, Jason Cook, talked about how to improve communication between the university and Batt staff;
  • and City of Bryan communication director April Saginor, a former Batt staffer, talked about her job and about working as a reporter.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I had wrong room number for Fall Reception

Make that B111! Still Cain Hall, still Saturday Sept. 5 at 4 p.m., still inducting arts critic Welton Jones, still playing New Mexico in football that evening.

Today's mass e-mail has it correct. Will go back and correct previous posts here on the blog; already fixed our Facebook event and group page (though I did NOT go back and re-spam all 291 Facebook members).

Here is the straight dope from Mr. Wegener:

Hi Sue,

Noticed that the room number is incorrect in the message you sent today. –Bob

Where: B111 of Cain Hall (across street from MSC Hotel, near The Zone north end of Kyle Field)

NOTE: B111 is in the center, single-story portion of Cain Hall. Enter Cain on the side across the street from the MSC Hotel and Board of Regents' Annex. (The A and C wings of Cain are 3-story buildings.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Associate dean Matthews to address FJSA

Great news: A&M associate liberal arts dean Pamela Matthews will be speaking to us again this year at the Fall Reception, 4 p.m. Sept. 5 in Cain Hall, room B111. She's been of great help to this blog in getting journalism news out to you folks, and last year she gave us an excellent and newsy update on the state of journalism education at A&M.

It's been a busy year in journalism at A&M, and this is a pivotal time. We've gained a new head of our journalism program; the university leadership is in flux and so, of course, is journalism as an industry and an educational field. Come and make it known that you care; meet our officers; do some networking.

We'll also elect new officers and induct arts critic Welton Jones II '58 into our Hall of Honor. Cain Hall is right by Kyle Field (here's a map), so you'll be well-placed for the 6 p.m. game against New Mexico. Park on Northgate, grab a bite amid the astonishing array of restaurants that has sprouted there, and stroll in leisurely style.

Monday, August 24, 2009

WTAW Sherman show 7 tonight; Eagle on Twitter

The Bryan-College Station Eagle and WTAW 1620 AM talk radio are sponsoring this year's FJSA Fall Reception, 4 p.m. Sept. 5 at Cain Hall on the A&M campus. To express our gratitude, I'd like to take a minute to talk about these sponsors.

Via theeagle.com, you can keep up with great A&M news reporting. The Eagle broke the news about President Murano's performance evaluation and provided the most in-depth reporting up to and after her resignation. They are consistently the best place to turn for breaking A&M news. This year, I followed them online during a hoax gun scare that briefly shut down campus and during the chemical plant fire that evacuated the city of Bryan. They were the most detailed news source on both subjects and updated their website fast as the story changed. Also, you can now follow them on Twitter at twitter.com/theeagle. (Though, hey, theeagle -- you need to follow your followers back! They could be sending you news tips!) Today, you can check in as students move into dorms to start the fall semester.

In the same vein, even outside the Brazos Valley, you can listen to news and Aggie Sports on WTAW online; find links at wtaw.com. Tonight, the weekly Mike Sherman show returns -- A&M's football coach gets together with radio announcer Dave South each week to talk at Wings N More; you can even e-mail your questions beforehand. Tune in tonight at 7 p.m.

Both of these loyal sponsors have been helping the Fall Reception take place for years, and the reception is the engine that keeps FJSA running. New members come to see what we're about. Great journalists are honored publicly. Connections are made that help both current and former students. Publicity from the meeting helps spread the word about A&M journalism. And we connect with faculty and staff, showing by our presence and our voice that we continue to care about and support journalism education at A&M.

It isn't free -- everything from the podium and programs to the larger expenses comes from somewhere -- and that is where WTAW and the Eagle come in and make it possible. Thank you.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Arts critic Welton Jones II '58 to join FJSA Hall of Honor

FJSA will induct influential San Diego arts critic Welton Jones II '58 to its Hall of Honor on Saturday, Sept. 5 at the FJSA Fall Reception. The reception will begin at 4 p.m. in room C-1111 of Cain Hall on the Texas A&M campus (follow signs to the room, which is in the center of the building).

Please join us at the reception to honor Jones and to get caught up on journalism at A&M. The first A&M home game is that day (vs. New Mexico, kickoff at 6 p.m.), so come to campus early and hang out with us. We suggest parking on Northgate.

Here's a great article celebrating his 50th year as an arts critic (2007), written by sandiego.com's editor. The article also contains a clipping of his first arts review in the Battalion.

Congratulations, Mr. Jones!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hotel room available for Friday before reception

If anybody's planning to come in Friday night for the FJSA Fall Reception, which will be at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 5, FJSA has a room available at the new Best Western on Highway 6 in Bryan for $139 +tax. (Another FJSA'er booked it for Saturday night, but had to book for two nights, in line with most College Station-area hotels' policy on football weekends.)

Anyway, get ahold of me if you are interested in the room. If you are planning to come in for Yell Practice, say, or if you're part of the Class of '94 (whoop!) reunion that weekend and want to get started early, this'd work. I always find that "the newer the hotel, the less moldy the smell" in the ever-damp Brazos Valley. Shocking that the CVB hasn't adopted that line in their promotions.

Kickoff in the Ags' season opener, against New Mexico, is at 6 p.m. that Saturday.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bryan chemical fire news breaks fast on Twitter

When chemical smoke from a fire that began about noon today at a plant outside Bryan forced an evacuation of the area, news began flowing quickly on Twitter. Some of the most useful accounts to follow (in addition to searching for updates using the #bryanfire hashtag, or just Bryan, which began trending on Twitter about 6 p.m.):

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Dale Rice named new head of A&M journalism

Journalism veteran Dale Rice is the new director of Journalism Studies at Texas A&M University, liberal arts Associate Dean Pamela Matthews confirmed today.

Rice will start Sept. 1, Matthews said, noting that an official announcement will come soon.

In the next couple of days, we'll have a full interview with Rice up on this blog. For now, here's a bit of background:

Rice, currently a lecturer with Journalism Studies, began teaching at A&M in Fall 2008. In an interview with FJSA at that time, he talked about the need to produce journalists who can work across all media platforms and about emphasizing basic reporting skills in his classes.

"... We need journalists who can report rapidly, write quickly, think on their feet and never abandon principles such as fairness and accuracy in the process. That, to me, is why sound journalism education is as important today as it has ever been," Rice said.

Rice also leads the College of Liberal Arts' Student Reporter Project; here's an earlier post from this blog about that program.

Friday, July 24, 2009

FJSA in talks with A&M on using Roland Martin gift

Just wanted to give y'all a quick update: FJSA officers are in the early stages of planning with A&M journalism folks how best to use the $10,000 surprise donation given by Roland Martin '91 last fall.

What's next: A slate of ideas that will address a variety of needs and also help fulfill Martin's desire to have A&M graduates producing journalism fluently in new media and other platforms.

More coming as it develops!

Roussel writes of Cronkite's Houston ties

Former White House deputy press secretary Peter Roussel, who has taught at A&M, wrote a piece for the Houston Chronicle about the years when Walter Cronkite learned his craft at Houston newspapers, headlined "Cronkite never forgot Houston roots." A snippet:

In his autobiography, A Reporter's Life, Cronkite writes about those days, including his impressions when he first reported for work at the Press: “I had a feeling that I had reached the pinnacle of journalistic success.” Little did he realize the heights he would ultimately scale in the profession. He points out that that newspaper was one of the venues where he learned about accuracy in reporting, a standard that would be a hallmark of his work. “The year on the Press was a learning time … the serious lessons of daily journalism.”

For much of his career he had a front row seat at the unfolding of epic events: World War II, the Nuremberg trials, the national political conventions, the birth of the space program and men walking on the moon. It was an incredible span of time, and for good chunks of it he delivered the pages of history to our living rooms as CBS' anchorman. Through it all he never forgot Houston, including the experiences and people he had known here even as events continued to propel his way to journalistic greatness.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ryan '08: Covering Madoff for news radio in NYC

(This entry is #6 in our series on summer 2009 Aggie journalism interns.)

Recent graduate Kenny Ryan '08, who was the 2008-09 opinion editor for the Battalion and wrote for the city desk before that, is interning this summer at WOR710 in New York. I asked him to send some news about what he's doing, along with any advice he could pass along, and he kindly wrote up the following, which includes near-brushes with Bernie Madoff and Bon Jovi:

WOR710 is a news talk station located on New York City's Manhattan Island; it's just between the WTC site and Wall Street. I intern for the news desk and spend my days scampering all across the city as I cover press conferences and conduct interviews, and occasionally also take pictures or write copy for the web site. Once I'm back in the news room I edit the tape so the audio can be used for their hourly news casts. Although the internships hours are technically only 9-1, I almost never leave that early and will stay at work as long as possible until there's nothing left to cover. One morning my boss was shocked to see I had been at work 10 hours the previous night; the longer I'm working, the more I'm learning is how I figure it.

The most exciting event I've covered so far was just this last Monday (June 29) when they sent me out to cover the conclusion of the Bernie Madoff trial at the NYC federal courthouse. It was an absolute circus; the sidewalk in front of the court house was covered in journalists, the major news networks had their field stars set up across the street, helicopters were even circling overhead. I was able to finagle myself into the midst of the pack as we all interviewed the Madoff victims who had come to see the verdict, and as the trial ended there was a slight thrill to being among the first people to know that Madoff had gotten his full 150 years in jail. The only unfortunate note was that Madoff and his lawyers never came out to give us a statement; the police on scene told the collected media that Madoff had sneaked away through the back door earlier as they put away the police barriers and took away the microphone podium. Most of the journalists left at this point, but feeling diligent I decided to ask the handful of journalists who had been behind the building covering the back door if Madoff had left, which they said he hadn't. I stayed with the building until the office called me home to work on other things, but had I been able to stick around longer I would have been able to see him slinking away past the remaining cameras later on.

Best story on the job so far without a doubt came one of my first few weeks at work. NYC and other major cities up here are supplied by the AP with a Daybook that lists all the interesting events happening in the city so journalists know whats worth covering. One morning I opened it up, looking for news to cover, and I noticed that there was going to be a charity event that night featuring Bill Clinton as a keynote speaker, and more importantly Bon Jovi as entertainment. I asked my boss if I could cover it and he said that if I made the arrangements he would give me a press pass, so I made the necessary calls and voila, I spent the evening rocking out to Bon Jovi no more than 50 feet from the stage. It was unforgettable!

So yea, that's more than a few lines, but I hope it works for you! NYC itself has been a joy to live in over the summer, especially every time a Texan calls to tell me about their hundred'degree weather as I relax outdoors in the mid-70s.

Oh, and as for how did I land this internship: I've always wanted to spend some time living in a major city, especially NYC. Initially I sent out my resume looking for a job to newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations in all the major cities in the Northeast, along the west coast and around Texas. When nothing materialized, I repeated the process but this time looking for an internship. WOR called me out of the blue one day and conducted an interview over the phone. They asked me how often I check the news, and I told them every spare moment of my day I'm up on stories from my cell phone, and that sold them on the idea of taking me on for the summer.

Years ago I hosted my own local sports talk show in CS with my brother and then a friend as a cohost and I had enjoyed the experience, so getting a taste of news radio was something I had always wanted to do. This has without a doubt been a great summer experience for me. Now I just need to update my resume and land a real job out there somewhere!

Advice to students: Learn as much as you can about everything! My second day at the internship I was working as a photographer at a NY state senators press conference as one of the WOR desk assistants showed me how to use their sound equipment, that was my first time taking pictures as a journalist, and they ended up online. I also ended up writing the copy on the story with the DA that day, as well as helping edit the audio. Be familiar with as many tools as possible because you never know when you will find yourself with one in your hand and an opportunity to use it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Steffy '86 on CNBC tonight at 7:45 about economy

Houston Chronicle business writer Loren Steffy '86 has been appearing with a few other business reporters on "CNBC Reports" of late and will be doing so again tonight, as I just learned from his Twitter feed (http://twitter.com/lsteffy).

One of the topics, he says, will be "Are Americans growing impatient with Obama over the economy?"

Here's the video of his appearance from last Monday, in which health care reform was among the topics.

Looking and sounding good, big guy! I dig the scholarly setting; those appear to be real books and everything.

Turner '10: Covering serial killings in North Carolina

(This entry is #5 in our series on summer 2009 Aggie journalism interns.)

The Battalion's new media editor for this fall, Calli Turner '10, is interning at the Gastonia Gazette in Gaston, N.C., where she's reporting both features and news in addition to shooting and editing video.

Recently, in fact, she's been covering the Gaffney, S.C., serial killings: This link goes to a video overview she edited, from which more of her videos on that topic and others can be found.

I asked Turner, a senior English (rhetoric track) major and history minor who'll graduate in December, to tell us a bit about how she learned her video skills, and about herself and her internship, and she was kind enough to respond:

I learned to edit video from the 2008-2009 New Media Editor Sarah Linebaugh, who came to The Battalion from KBTX. We started the webcast together, which was our endeavor to relaunch the new media desk after a hiatus. She shot and edited, and I reported the stories. Eventually, I switched over to behind the camera and began shooting and editing, which is now my favorite place to be! In the fall I'll be able to train the editors and reporters in video, so I'm really looking forward to that.


I started at The Battalion January of my freshman year as a copy editor. After that I served as the city editor, and this past year I worked as a copy editor, designed the sports and front page, wrote for the city desk and helped to relaunch our new media desk. I always find myself falling in love with a new aspect of the newsroom, so I tend to wear many hats.

I received my internship through The Institute for Humane Studies, which primarily places interns with Freedom Communications papers. Through my internship, I attended a week-long journalism seminar in June at Bryn Mawr in Pennyslvania. I really enjoyed being able to meet and speak with such talented professionals, such as Gretchen Morgenson of The New York Times and Megan McArdle of The Atlantic. We also had former White House Senior Economic Adviser Korok Ray on hand to teach seminars in welfare economics, microeconomics, macroeconomics and the financial crisis.

I also walked away from the seminar with good news for my fellows Aggies — almost every speaker said their No. 1 advice is to not major in journalism. They said it was more valuable to go and learn something — a foreign language, economics, art history, anything. If you really love journalism, then you'll find a place that will let you develop your skills and your clips.

I'm interning at The Gaston Gazette in Gastonia, N.C. I'm writing feature stories, news reports and shooting and editing videos. I've also had the chance to help others in the newsroom learn video editing. It was a definite change to go from The Battalion to The Gazette, because my first day on the job I found myself shooting a video with just a handheld camera — not the professional camera, tripod and wireless microphone I was spoiled with before. I began shooting video simply because I like learning new things, but now I find the skill more and more in demand, so it has helped to receive many of my internship offers this summer. I really cannot say enough about how valuable multimedia skills are for today's journalists.

I write a lot of local feature stories, but I also have two in-depth projects I'm working on for this weekend. One I am really excited for is an economic analysis for Gaston County in comparison to the other 99 counties in North Carolina, and also the economic predicitions for 2013.

In the fall I will return to The Battalion and serve as the new media editor, and afterward, I'll cross my fingers and hope to find a job.

This is the link to the video I produced on my first day at The Gazette.
My favorite video this summer is a feature on a Gaston resident who turned his yard into a rose garden.
For this video/story package, I was able to ride around town in a smart car (the video is linked on the right).

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Alvarado '10, Crump '10: In NY with Dan Rather

(This entry is #4 in our series on summer 2009 Aggie journalism interns.)

Nicole Alvarado '10 and Daniel Crump '10 are interning with Dan Rather at his HDNet news program, "Dan Rather Reports," in New York. They are the first interns at the show who are not from Sam Houston State (Rather's alma mater) -- and that's due in large part to Alvarado, as you'll read below. (Alvarado was the Batt's editor-in-chief for 2008-2009; Crump has done podcasts for the Batt.)

Crump and Alvarado (pictured below with another HDNet intern and fellow Aggie Kenny Ryan in Times Square) are getting a wide range of assignments, including some directly from Rather.

From left are Heather Itzen, Daniel Crump and Nicole Alvarado, all interns at HDNet's "Dan Rather Reports," and May 2009 A&M graduate Kenny Ryan, interning at New York's WOR 710 NewsTalk Radio. Itzen is from Sam Houston State University.

I asked Alvarado to talk a little bit about the internship so far, what the best experiences have been, whether she has any advice to pass along, etc., and she was kind enough to write about it for us. Here it is!

So far, we have done a wide variety of things. As far as traditional, daily journalism goes, they just make sure that we are up-to-date on the goings-on of the world. However, they don't send us out on assignments since the show itself is more of an investigative endeavour (even though production has halted for the month of July, yet will resume in August, under mandate by Mark Cuban, the owner of HDnet), and often focuses on international pieces.

What we are mostly involved in is a wide range of learning experiences that vary from making copies of episodes to DVDs to have for a library, to running errands for Mr. Rather, to attending recording sessions with him for the show. However, our duties have mostly fallen within the department of research, as far as the show is concerned. That, and every once in a while Mr. Rather will assign us individual assignments of his own accord. For example, yesterday he had us all watch "Nothing But The Truth" and write up a 2-page response on the issues of privacy and source protection in journalism.

I am LOVING my time here in New York. This kind of journalism is exactly what I want to do and I love that this city literally never seems to sleep.

As for how I obtained this internship, the executive producer of the show, Wayne Nelson, came and talked to the staff of The Battalion, the student newspaper at A&M, for one of our 400 meetings. At the time, I was editor-in-chief of the paper, and as I was listening to him describe what the show was about, I became entranced with the idea behind it. After he spoke, I approached him about it and asked him a few more questions, then invited him back to the newsroom, where I proceeded to show him my resume and portfolio, then hound him until I had heard something back from him. Needless to say, I got the internship, which was a phenomenal opportunity because normally, there is only one intern who is secured through a program that Mr. Rather set up at Sam Houston decades ago. We are the first interns not to come through that program.

The best experience has just been how intent everyone here is to us learning how to do everything. Advice I'd give to aspiring journalists: never give up. Pursue something with all you've got, whether it be a story, a source or just a job, plain and out. Don't take "No" for an answer. I effectively got Mr. Nelson to set up an internship program that wasn't even in existence for this show, but it wasn't easy. Try and accumulate all the experience you can because if there's one thing everyone is looking for, it's someone who can do everything and do it well.

Best experience? Man....there are so many. The other day, when we went with Mr. Rather to a stand-up, when he records the introductions, segues and conclusions to the show in a studio, they allowed the interns to sit in afterwards and filmed us reading the first segment from the teleprompter. That was a really cool experience. That, and honestly, just going into work every day and realizing that holy cow, I work with Dan Rather. The man comes into the office, knows my name, seems to take a real, personal interest in his interns, is always thinking of fun stuff for us to do...one of my favorite things he does is every time he sees us, he always greets us by name and asks us what we've learned today. He seems so adamant that one never stop learning, and earnest in his efforts to help us grow. About a week ago we watched a documentary on him called "Dan Rather: A Reporter Remembers" and it was simply phenomenal. The man has seriously been present at every major historical event since Hurricane Carla--he is an icon, an integral part of history and a milestone marker for journalism. If I could ever be half the reporter he is, I'd feel fulfilled.
I have a blog that I've been keeping about the stuff we do both at work and our experiences outside of it, in New York. The link to that is: http://n16alvarado.wordpress.com. On there, I have the sites for my photos and videos blogrolled, so people can look at those as well. I update about once a week and try to keep people up-to-date on all the tasks I do at work, as well.


I personally worked on the "Private Prisons" episode that aired just a few short weeks ago, as in, the research I did directly contributed to the production of the show. Also, that was the first episode with the interns' names in the credits, which was pretty exciting, needless to say.

Friday, July 17, 2009

See where even more of your fellow Aggies are

Who's at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram? Who's at KTRK-TV Houston? KTVI in St. Louis? Crown/Random House in New York?

More than 140 folks have now joined our LinkedIn group, and we add more members every week. (There are 275 in our Facebook group, with some overlap.)

Join the group and view this page to see members listed with their occupations conveniently listed below their names.

Students are more than welcome to join! You can start making contacts early :)

Your group managers screen applications for membership with the goal in mind of not allowing the group to be used for non-Aggie purposes. (The mind boggles slightly at what "Aggie purposes" might be, but you know what I mean.)

LinkedIn now offers both Jobs and Discussions for each group, where members can post. Recent topics tossed up for discussion have been how to make Aggiecareers.com more useful for communicators and a member seeking Aggie communications professionals in South Florida.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

FJSA Fall Reception will be Sept. 5 in Cain Hall

Your FJSA officers scrambled -- since the MSC is under construction -- and got an alternate location for the Fall Reception. Over in Cain Hall, there's a room the Battalion frequently uses, and we'll be able to meet there (thanks also to Bob Wegener of Student Publications).

So mark yer calendars: Sept. 5, 2009, in Cain Hall, we'll meet, elect officers and honor the next inductee into FJSA's Hall of Honor.

That's the day the Aggies begin their football season by playing New Mexico, a game that's currently set for 6 p.m. So the FJSA events will be timed around that; and hopefully the sun will be setting on those of us sweating and fainting in the stands.

Watch this blog for details as they get nailed down as to time, events, parking, snacks, etc.!

Yours in the drive for cheese cubes,

Casanova '10: Next Batt editor at Abilene paper

(This entry is #3 in our series on summer 2009 Aggie journalism interns.)

Amanda Casanova '10, a senior English major from Lufkin and the Battalion's 2009-2010 editor-in-chief, is interning at the Abilene Reporter-News.

I asked her for a few words about the experience so far and she kindly obliged:

I had never even visited West Texas before this summer. I expected tumbleweeds, cowboy hats and scorpions. Instead, I got wind farms, great stories and some front page placements (maybe, also a tumbleweed or two). For the past month or so, I have been interning with the Abilene Reporter-News, covering mostly general assignments for the 128-year old paper.

I have managed to track storm damage in small town Big Country, chase down a pair of vacationing teachers who were in the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. when a gunman opened fire in June, interviewed a former Women Airforce Service pilot and incited community controversy with a story about a young man who posted signs around town apologizing to his ex-girlfriend.

Here are a few of my favorites:
I will be returning to Aggieland in the fall to serve as the 2009-2010 editor-in-chief of the Battalion and I am absolutely thrilled to bring back some West Texas to the Battalion.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Series on our students' summer 2009 internships

Stay tuned for this full series of posts on A&M students' summer 2009 internships:

June 27 Rojas '10 interning at the Washington Post
July 2 Woolbright '12: Working crime beat at SA Express-News
July 16 Casanova '10: Next Batt editor at Abilene paper
July 18 Alvarado '10, Crump '10: In NY with Dan Rather
July 20 Turner '10: Covering serial killings in North Carolina
July 22 Ryan '08: Covering Madoff for news radio in NYC

If you're an Aggie interning at a journalism outlet, get ahold of me! I want to write about you too :)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Woolbright '12: Working crime beat at SA Express-News

Matt Woolbright '12 is interning at the San Antonio Express-News, his hometown paper. He's on the crime team, and says he's greatly enjoying monitoring the scanners and working breaking news on tight deadlines.

Woolbright described the typical pace: He heads out to the scene with the goal of reporting back within five minutes to give enough basics to get an item up on the Web. Then he phones back every five minutes or so to add details as he develops the story.

When I talked to him Monday, he had just grabbed a bite of dinner after a day that included contributing to the E-N coverage of a gas line fire which began with an explosion that critically injured a worker; it left 87 customers without power. The E-N had the story posted online and updated at least twice before the fire was put out, and then posted the wrapup.

In addition to the cops beat, usually he'll work as a general assignment reporter one night a week, Woolbright said.

His internship began June 1, and he's had 10 bylines in the paper so far. His first story is one of his favorites: "Air Force sergeant returns early, surprises daughter." It drew community response, was picked up by national outlets and drew many comments on the paper's Web site.

The family commented afterward, Woolbright said, that "I was able to capture their joy and really translate to the outside world how happy they were."

Woolbright, a sophomore, began on the Battalion staff his freshman year, and this fall he'll be the Batt's managing editor for news.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Bishop '93, Cardinale '94, Tubularman in Hullabalog

Last month, Mike Snyder '91 started Hullabalog: The Blog for Aggie Professionals. Since June 4 he's been featuring various Aggie professionals, and recently included Jon Bishop '93, a journalism grad who is now assistant general manager for the Durham Bulls, and Boomer Cardinale '94, creator of "Tubularman," a cartoon strip that began in the Battalion in 1990.

"Tubularman" will be a regular feature of Hullabalog, and Mike is looking for contributors for the blog as well as for Aggies on Twitter (he's @msnyder4). Nice-lookin' blog, Mike!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Rojas '10 interning at the Washington Post

Watch here in upcoming days for news on other Battalion staffers' summer internships, but for right now I have some good news to share from Rick Rojas '10, whom I chatted with last week.

"I'm interning as a Metro reporter for the summer," he wrote. "I'm only a week into it, so I've only done three stories, but one made the Metro front and was the most popular local story online last week, which was pretty exciting."

Here are those first stories:

The citation story, about a man who flashed his lights to warn other drivers about a traffic enforcement zone, "created quite a bit of a stir in the community," Rojas says. "It was the most popular Metro story on the Web site for a few days, generated some letters to the editor and had local bloggers going berserk!"

Rojas started as a general assignments reporter on the Maryland desk, stationed in the Montgomery County, Md., bureau. Soon -- or maybe already -- he'll be assigned to a "local topic unit": politics, social issues, breaking news/general assignments or local development.

This spring, he was managing editor for the 2009 Aggieland and a Batt copy editor. Head of Student Publications Bob Wegener wrote in his Washington Post recommendation: "Mr. Rojas has proved to be a go-getter with a real passion for journalism. He has been a key contributor by doing something he does exceptionally well: reporting and writing. Because of his creativity and voice, his stories make readers care."

I've been happy to write about Rojas before (at the NYT Institute on Student Journalism and at the Louisville Courier-Journal last summer) and I'll be happy also to update on more Batt staffers' summer exploits soon. Send me yours!