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.”