Thursday, October 27, 2011

Rangers writer Andro '92 on breaking news/Web

Today we complete the excellent profile of Anthony Andro '92 written for us by Ruth Wedergren '85. Andro's covering the Texas Rangers right now in St. Louis as they prepare for Game Six of the 2011 World Series. He tweets: "Tonight has the chance to be the coldest first-pitch World Series since stats began being kept in 1975. Old mark is 41 in 1979"

About the author: Ruth Wedergren is a public media professional with 25 years of experience in programming, operations and educational outreach in public television and radio. View her resume at linkedin.com or contact her at tvtexas85@aim.com.

Read the rest of this story: Part 1 posted here yesterday, or the full story in one take here: http://bit.ly/andro92

Anthony Andro’s progression from print journalist to versatile multimedia reporter mirrors the changes in journalism since students of the ’80s and ’90s graduated. The one-story-per-day print model is history, replaced by multiple stories each day, updates for online editions and use of other media formats.

“You have to stay in front of what’s new in social media,” Andro says. “You have to be versatile enough to write, to tweet, to use a flip-cam, your cell phone and your tape recorder. The writing style has changed so much because you have to get your point across in less time and a lot less space.” He also says that in online reporting, there is no such thing as an inch count.

Andro recalls his boss at the Star-Telegram talking to staff a few years ago about moving toward “alternative storytelling.” He says, “I jumped on it because for one thing, it’s a lot quicker and it’s more opinionated. It doesn’t have to be lead, paragraph, quote, setup, quote, setup, quote. You can’t do that anymore. You have to be able to reach people in different ways.”

For example, Andro writes stories about the Rangers that are more opinion than fact-driven. “I’ll write a position-by-position breakdown for the World Series that won’t have a quote in it,” he says. “It’ll be my opinion on who’s better at every position.”

In place of a traditional copy editor, Andro’s stories go through four channels before they are posted online, including reviews in Houston and Los Angeles. So stories are not immediately available online. “I’ve been called on two stories from L.A. people, so I know it does get read over,” he says, “and that makes me feel good because when you’re writing in a hurry, everybody makes mistakes.”

When it comes to the future of newspapers, Andro is pessimistic. “I still get the Star-Telegram every day and it shrinks every day,” he says. “It’s sad — you want to think that newspapers will be around forever, but the way they keep shedding jobs, it’s hard to imagine how much longer it can last.”

Andro says one thing that won’t change in journalism is “you have to be able to write. It comes down to basic grammar, basic journalism stuff. I think that’s the most important thing. But you have to be versatile.”

And never underestimate the power of Twitter. “When my followers ask me a question, I’ll answer it,” he says. “I think that’s important because they connect with you and you bring that audience with you wherever you go. Every time I write a story, I’ll tweet the link to the story and that drives traffic to our website, which is the number one goal.” Andro has over 8,000 Twitter followers.

So what’s the best part of Andro’s job at FoxSportsSouthwest.com? “I get to watch baseball for a living,” he says.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Journalist tweets his way to renown covering Rangers

Ruth Wedergren '85 has written us a great profile of an Aggie journalist -- currently covering the World Series -- and how he broke national news on Twitter and adjusted to covering the team for TV and the Web.

Wedergren is a public media professional with 25 years of experience in programming, operations and educational outreach in public television and radio. And she's a hell of a writer. (Contact her at tvtexas85@aim.com)

Part One of her profile:

Texas A&M journalism graduate Anthony Andro ’92 made a name for himself during the Texas Rangers ownership auction in August 2010. He wrote about it for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and discovered a rapt audience on Twitter. And a future employer, Fox Sports Southwest.com, was also following him.

(At right: Andro with Ron Washington)

“I went into the courtroom that morning with my cell phone and my laptop and started tweeting everything that was happening in the auction,” Andro says. “I picked up 4,000 followers that day because I was giving everybody stuff that no one had access to. I was the number one trending Twitter topic in the nation that day.”

Andro was in the hallway talking with Nolan Ryan, a member of the Chuck Greenberg group hoping to own the Rangers, when the news walked right past him, literally. “The Jim Crane group came by; he just walked by Nolan, and Jim Crane said ‘Congratulations. We’re done.’ Nolan looked at me, I looked at Nolan, and I thought, ‘What the heck?’ So I tweeted that Jim Crane says we’re done.”

People in the courtroom got the news from Andro’s Twitter post, and Chuck Greenberg’s financial advisor said, “Anthony says we won it.”

Andro started covering sports for his Plano East High School paper, Panther Prints.
He also wrote for the Plano Star-Courier while in high school. “I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do,’ so I decided to go to A&M and be a journalism major,” he says.

While at Texas A&M, he was on the Battalion’s sports staff and covered everything from football to cross-country meets to baseball and basketball. “We covered it all.”

Andro says his favorite professor in the Journalism Department was Dr. Douglas Starr.
“He’s such a laid-back guy, such a good guy,” Andro says. “He cared about us more than anyone else.” That caring aspect took on special significance when Andro’s father and stepfather both died while he was in school. “I was gone from school a week each time. I came back and Dr. Starr said, ‘Anthony, what are you doing here? Just go home, don’t worry about it. Just take care of things, and you come back when you’re ready.’ You don’t find that at a lot of places or with a lot of people.”

After graduation, Andro got a job at the Port Arthur News covering sports. He also worked the desk and “did it all.” That’s where he met his wife, who’s a Longhorn. Yes, they have a house divided.

In 1999, Andro moved to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram to cover high school sports.
A few years later, they added motor sports and college sports to his beat, and he was doing less high school coverage. In 2007 he began to exclusively report on the Texas Rangers. After the paper downsized in 2008, he covered the Rangers and motor racing.

When the Rangers won the American League pennant last year, Andro shot about 50 seconds of video of the ginger ale celebration given to Josh Hamilton by his teammates. (Hamilton has battled drug and alcohol addiction.) That video was picked up by Yahoo! and MSNBC, and the Star-Telegram had lots of video views on its website.

The Rangers auction experience showed him how much you could do with social media. “I think you have to realize what people want to see in this job, because you have access that no one else does,” he says. “If you can provide it for them in different formats, you have to be able to do that.”

Andro’s Rangers ownership coverage got him noticed, and this July, he started working at FoxSportsSouthwest.com covering the Rangers. “Fox has a huge agreement with the Rangers, and they wanted to beef up their Rangers coverage to go along with everything they do on the TV side,” he said.

But working for Fox doesn’t just mean writing content for the web. “I’ve never done TV, and they said, ‘All right, you’re going on TV,’” he says. After regular season home games, he does a segment about what Ranger fans are talking about on Twitter, answers a few questions and then goes down to the clubhouse to write his story.

(At right: Andro talks with Nelson Cruz)

During the playoffs, Andro was on the online pre-game show and the post-game show on Fox Sports Southwest, all live. “For games three, four and five, I was in the studio while the Rangers were in Detroit, and we did hour-long post-game shows,” he says. “That’s a completely new world for me. I know how to conjugate verbs correctly, but I don’t know anything about this. So it’s definitely been an adjustment.”

For the World Series, Andro is doing the online pre-game show and the one-hour post-game show on Fox Sports Southwest. He talks about what was going on during the game, “the highlights and lowlights.”
Andro made his TV debut during the Big 12 Media Days this year. He says, “I went from Big 12 Media Days to the ballpark to do my regular stuff; then after that they stick a mike in your hand and say, ‘Look at the camera and smile,’ and you’re on. That was my television training.”

Since he’s been on TV, Andro has learned some tricks of the trade. “Now I own rice paper to take the shine off my forehead, and I have a little bit of powder,” he says. “It rips at your heart, the things you say you’ll never do, and then here you are doing them. You kind of walk a little sheepishly now.”

He even tweeted about the rice paper and powder after the Rangers’ general manager, Jon Daniels, walked into the bathroom and saw Andro blotting his forehead. “I reached an all-time new low,” he says.

After baseball is over, Andro will cover some college football games and then the NASCAR race at Texas World Speedway in November. “I still have a lot of ties with the racing people, so every time they’re in town, I still go out and do that kind of stuff.”

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Oct. 15 kickoff moves, so does FJSA - but with Dale!

Kickoff for the Oct. 15 A&M/Baylor game has been moved to 11 a.m. -- so FJSA will meet afterward, at 4 p.m., directly after the game. Just head straight there and we'll get started, say, 15-30 minutes after the game, at the same location (described below, in previous post).

And Dale Rice, head of Texas A&M's Journalism Studies program, will be there and speak at the reception! He'll give us an update on the program -- he's achieving quite a lot and I really encourage everybody to come meet him. Longtime newspaper reporter and editor now seriously dedicated to creating a high-quality journalism program whose graduates can go anywhere in modern news media.

Do not fear: Our guest of honor and, I understand, some of his A&M journalism classmates and cohorts will be there at 4; we'll schmooze, chat and add his plaque to the Battalion's wall. Erm, that is if they have the plaques up on the wall of the portable trailer (see discussion of Batt's temporary location due to MSC construction, also below).

Personally I kinda like having the reception after the game, because we get to take a short stroll from Kyle over to the air-conditioned room and enjoy ourselves while all the traffic clears out. Just my 2 cents!

In case my tweets were confusing (I myself am often confused), we play Tech THIS weekend in Lubbock, and Baylor next week at Kyle. C'mon down!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Meet Ian Fleming's promoter, then BTHObu!

FJSA Fall Reception
12:30 pm, Oct. 15, 2011
The Grove (map below)

Join us two hours before kickoff of the Baylor game as we get an update on the A&M journalism program and induct the newest member of our Hall of Honor: Charles Neighbors '54!

FJSA's fall reception will be at The Battalion this year, which is temporarily (due to MSC construction) housed at the Grove, next to Cain Hall where we’ve had the reception the last few years.

About Charles:

An editor and writer, Charles Neighbors '54, has had a lengthy career in publishing since earning degrees in journalism and English. He worked for McGraw-Hill business magazines, as a U.S. Air Force public information officer and at New American Library where he promoted authors such as Ian Fleming, John Dos Passos, William Gaddis, Mickey Spillane and Erskine Caldwell. He’s been director of a PR firm, an independent literary agent in New York and in San Antonio and he continues to edit manuscripts and books.

Grove map

The Batt's temporary digs are a portable building (very nice inside!) at the Grove, that little band-shell at the southwest corner of Simpson Drill Field. If you walk from the MSC to Albritton bell tower, you'll pass it on your left. (Assuming you can walk anywhere from the MSC, which is probably all cordoned off.)

This Baylor game should be a highly charged atmosphere, given the Bears' SEC realignment intrigues; it's also the day to "Wear White, Wave Maroon" in support of Aggie Wildfire Relief; buy a maroon 12th Man towel for $3 with the option to donate more, then wear a white T-shirt to the game. Proceeds go to help victims of the Central Texas fires AND to the area's firefighters. Learn more, or purchase/donate, at AggieWildfireRelief.com.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Come join our "Jobs" group! Plus, resume inspiration

Our latest venture is a private Google Group just for A&M folks seeking jobs, hiring or just wanting to keep an eye out in journalism-related fields. Freelancers, PR, marketing, TV, print, everybody: If this group can benefit you, I want you to join. Aggies only, for this one. And it's invitation-only. I expect confidentiality and the A&M honor code to apply, and indeed we've never had a problem yet in any of our more open groups, so this should be peach cake.

Send me your email address, and I'll send you an invite! (sue94 at aggienetwork dot com.) You will be able to get notifications of new posts by email or other options (just set your Groups preferences), or visit the group itself to see discussions. Posts will not appear in public Google search results or archives.

And now, to get us fired up, here are some unusual and inspiring resume tips from Mashable.com, presented as a cool infographic:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Our LinkedIn group grows, and I eat a little crow

First, I'm thrilled to say our Aggie Journalists group on LinkedIn is growing every week, and just passed 300 members. Members have posted job info, queries to the group at large, A&M memories. Come jump in the pool at http://bit.ly/AJlinkedin!

Also, my apologies to LinkedIn, because up until recently people would ask me "How is joining LinkedIn useful?" and I would say something like, "Well, for us it's great because you can go in our group and see all the different places A&M journalism grads* have gotten to, but other than that, um..."

I hereby eat my words. Here are some very useful things to do with LinkedIn, and please add comments or send me more that you know of:
  • For job-hunters: If there is a particular company or companies you want to work at, you can search the entire LinkedIn directory by company and see if you are connected to anyone there -- your friends, and your friends' friends, show up first in search results. The Advanced Search options make it pretty powerful. (Although the person you know might not have influence over hiring, often they can tell you vital stuff like what working there is like, whether the company's in trouble or doing well, what openings might be likely in the future...)
  • For job-hunters: Or, work it the other way -- see where your old colleagues have gone. If they're at a company that's in your field, your friend's inside knowledge might give you a better shot at a job there. Are they hiring? What kind of qualifications do they want?
  • My favorite things about LinkedIn spring from the fact that people maintain their own listings. Instead of having to update your Rolodex when a comrade changes corporations, now your entire roster of contacts is constantly updated without you having to do a thing. I ran a roster of A&M jour grads for a while, and just keeping that current would be a full-time job. No more! Plus it vastly increases your contacts: People you might have lost touch with after a couple moves are still reachable.

There. Three cool things about LinkedIn. Tell us more!

* I say "A&M journalism grads," but the group is open to anybody who:
  • studied, or is currently studying, jour or ag jour at A&M
  • worked, or is currently working, at the Batt or Aggieland
  • came from A&M and wound up taking a job in a journalism- or PR-related field
  • "friends" -- which to me means anyone who'd like to help the cause of journalism education at A&M
Pretty much the only people I don't approve are people who appear to be interested in using our group as an email list for spamming press releases, promotions or other profiteering. I am adamant about not letting our group and contacts be used.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Dr. Starr T-shirts, and memories of Corregidor

Some time ago, I mentioned to Dr. Starr that I'd like to put this saying of his on a shirt:
"Every time a newspaper fails, we lose a little freedom."

I finally did! Here is the early version of the shirt:

I'm ordering one to test the print quality and then I'll ship the first one to Dr. Starr. (Note: I'm slowly migrating the Aggie Journalists shirts over to Printfection, because the CafePress terms of service are untenable.)

Today being the Fourth, I offer up this bit of good reading: Dr. Starr's description of taking Corregidor in World War II, when he served on the USS Nicholas. Excerpts:
Our destroyer task group was based in Subic Bay, two hours up the coast from Manila Bay. At 0330 each morning for four days, we stood out of Subic Bay and steamed south, arriving in Manila Bay two hours later, just before dawn. Our task was to soften up Corregidor as much as possible before the paratroopers went in for the final clean-up. I did not envy them.
We bombarded Corregidor as long as it was daylight. For two days, the Nicholas and others steamed close to the cliffsides, point-blank-range close, to draw Japanese fire from the tunnel openings. The idea was to find the guns and silence them. But we had to give the Japanese first shot.
The scheme worked. We were shot at continually and we silenced quite a few of those cliffside guns.
Because it was a continuing fight, we stayed at battle stations all day every day. We took individual breaks for meals. Breakfast and supper were served during the two-hour run between Subic and Manila. Dinner was not served as such. Each unit in the ship sent one or two men at a time to eat. We ate in a hurry and hastened back to our battle stations. Mine was on the bridge, so I was witness to much of the action.
After Corregidor, the Nicholas participated in the landings at Zamboanga, Cebu, Borneo, and Okinawa, and, finally, the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay.

Dr. Starr is on Facebook, and you can tell from all the posts by his former students how highly we regard him. Go check him out!

My new gig! Same newsroom, totally different job

Hey, I wanted to let all my friends here know about my latest job switch: I could not be more happy to say I'm going to be a reporter for PolitiFact Texas!

During 16 years at the Statesman, I have done a bunch of different things, worked in news, business, sports, the Willco bureau and most recently features, as copy chief. But working on PolitiFact is a whole new animal, and I cannot wait to get started.

PolitiFact Texas was the first "franchise" of the national PolitiFact; there are now eight more in assorted states. I liked the idea from the get-go, and indeed somehow weaseled my way into the initial PolitiFact training held before the Texas edition launched in January 2010.

Truth! Democracy! Politics! ... Well, at least those things sometimes overlap. :) Wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Nominate an Aggie journalist for Hall of Honor

Hey guys -- I have been quiet on the blog lately but the folks on our Twitter list have been active. Come join us! You don't even have to register or log into Twitter: Just go to this Web page to read FJSA'ers tweets: http://twitter.com/#!/aggiejournalist/fjsa

We also have dozens of new members in our LinkedIn group, including current students, which makes me very happy. Total of 282 members and climbing every week! There are some Aggie folks working in really cool jobs -- NBC, Harvard web site, owners of Texas newspapers, ESPN, New York Times -- Get in there and swim around a little. http://bit.ly/AJlinkedin

Now, the big topic: Please send us a name, or multiple names, to be considered for the Hall of Honor. As Doug says, we'd like to build up a group of candidates.
Send nominations to dougpils (at) aol.com -- Here are the details:

The Texas A&M Former Journalism Students Association is looking for nominations for our 2011 Hall of Honor nominee. If you know an A&M journalism or ag journalism grad who has had or is still having an outstanding career in our field, please send along his or her name, year of graduation and some details about why this person should be considered. We'd like to build a good list of people this year, so we have a strong group to consider in the coming years.

Doug says you can send nominations to him at dougpils (at) aol.com.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Strange doings at Reed McDonald

A few weeks ago, ace investigator Kelly Brown '89 sent me some mysterious goodies from campus: a pic of the exterior of Reed McDonald and one of a large tank of liquid nitrogen which she says "now sits outside Reed," plus a video from inside the elevator, which she notes "got a face lift, but the building did not."

I believe what's going on here is RDMC's conversion into a snazzy new chemistry lab building. An architecture firm called PGAL has a Web page describing such a project here, and of course RDMC is right across the street from the current Chemistry building and the "Chemistry Fountain"/H2O Fountain, best known for having exuberant chemistry students turn its waters into maroon or varicolored foam.

Reed McDonald, for any of you New Army punks (I kid! I kid because I love!), is the rathole part-chemistry/part-journalism building where strange experimental happenings as well as our wonderful journalism professors and the Battalion itself were stored for many years. The Batt had upstairs offices with windows until somebody started shooting at 'em; well, I'm sure that's not the real reason, but it is true that in later years the Batt newsroom was down in the sunless, airless, joyless basement. For many years, in fact, we could say that while the A&M newspaper was put together in an ugly burnt-orange building, at least the tu paper was produced in a maroon building.

A new Humanities and Liberal Arts building is underway -- groundbreaking was set for early this year and completion is set for July 2012. It will be located in a fairly prime spot: close to the circle drive at the "front" of campus. This description (which also includes a rendering of the building) says it's between the Jack K. Williams Administration Building and the Glasscock Center. I marked those two buildings on this map, so you can see where the new Liberal Arts building might fall between the red arrow-thingies:

Monday, April 18, 2011

In memory of Judy Franklin '68

Many have written me in recent days with the sad news that Judy Franklin, Class of '68, was killed in a car wreck Sunday. From her obituary in the Bryan-College Station Eagle:

Judy was in the first class of women admitted to Texas A&M and graduated in 1968, majoring in journalism. While at A&M she was editor of the A&M Review. For this and many subsequent activities her department later named her an Outstanding Journalism Graduate. Judy went on Iowa State University, earning a master's degree in journalism in 1970. She also earned an MBA at the University of Houston in 1984.

Judy had a long and illustrious career, both in development and journalism. In addition to working with Harvard and the Texas A&M Health Science Center in development, her experiences also included teaching English at the University of Tehran until the onset of the Islamic Revolution forced her students to shelter her safely off campus.

Judy was an Aggie to the core, proudly representing A&M in everything she did, including being a past president of the Houston A&M Club. She moved back to College Station in 2000 and was working with Texas AgriLife Communications Department at the time of her death.

Our Jerry Cooper '63, who had known her since their journalism classes at A&M, says, "She was a credit to A&M journalism and will be missed." Others have spoken to me also of her spirit and humor. Our thoughts are with her many friends and family.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Staff of Aggieland takes 13 national yearbook awards

Thank you Mr. Wegener for this:

Editors and staff members for Texas A&M’s 2010 Aggieland won 13 Gold Circle Awards in national yearbook competition.

The Columbia Scholastic Press Association announced its awards for collegiate yearbooks at the 33rd annual College Media Convention on March 13. Alyssa Smith, class of 2010, Doug Klembara, senior university studies major, and Stephen Fogg, class of 2009, received first place awards for yearbook division page design, feature photo, sports page multi-page presentation, student life spread multi-page presentation, organization or Greeks spread multi-page presentation and academic spread multi-page presentation.

Other awards include:
  • Second place
Feature presentation, feature photo, academic spread multi-page presentation
  • Third place
Opening and closing spread design, sports feature photo
  • Certificate of merit
Title page design and sports feature photo.

The 2011 Gold Circles recognized superior work by student journalists produced between Oct. 31, 2009, and Nov. 1, 2010.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Choosing between news job offers: Does size matter?

I'm fixing to update my big ol' list of Texas daily newspapers ranked by size (circulation). But before I do, I'd like to pass along some wise words given to me recently.

Not too long ago, an Aggie job-hunter wrote to me trying to decide between jobs at two newspapers. One of the questions this new grad asked me was, "Which paper looks better on a resume?" For perspective, I asked a very smart person I know who recently served a good stretch as editor-in-chief of a Texas newspaper. The answer is below!

Job offers at midsize paper and small paper:
Which will look better on a resume?

In my experience, this is something people put too much emphasis on. I think there are really just three categories of newspapers in terms of the weight that a paper carries just by listing it on your resume.

At the top are papers in that New York Times/Washington Post strata. Having those on a resume means a lot, obviously. At the opposite end of the spectrum are the weeklies and the really teeny-tiny dailies. Seeing those on a resume tells me you were working your butt off every day but you were probably never getting coached or even edited, so you’ve probably got a great work ethic but still have a lot to learn. Every other paper falls into a middle category where the name or size of the paper doesn’t really tell me much about you either way. All those papers in the middle, whether they are the size of the Bryan Eagle or the Dallas Morning News, have plenty of people working there who are studs and plenty who are duds. It is much more about the quality of your portfolio, the strength of your references and how well you do in the interview than it is about which paper looks better on your resume.

Read more about what editors at Texas newspapers are looking for in job candidates in this Aggie Journalists series of interviews.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Byerly '99 again is NASA's voice on shuttle launch

Josh Byerly '99, right, who visited A&M this fall to talk with journalism students, served Thursday as the ascent commentator for Discovery's final launch. Video below.

At left is Byerly with Buzz Aldrin and NASA flight director Ron Spencer. (Photos courtesy of NASA)

Byerly spoke to students in September and again in November – he even brought an astronaut helmet with him; pretty cool :) If you'd like to have Byerly come speak to a group, you can contact him through his Web site, JoshByerly.com.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Steffy '86 signs BP book March 5 at A&M

"A carefully and powerfully written story."
Financial Times

The Houston Chronicle's Loren Steffy '86, all-around good dude and a past president of FJSA, will be signing copies of his book about BP, "Drowning in Oil," in College Station on March 5. He'll be at the Barnes & Noble on Texas Avenue across from campus from 1-3 p.m. (Map)

Booklist says:
"Steffy, business columnist for the Houston Chronicle, first began covering British Petroleum in 2005 after the deadly explosion at their Texas City refinery killed 15 people and injured 170 others. His investigations reveal a corporate culture of cost-cutting initiatives that put profits ahead of workers' lives and the environment."

More good words (I got all this off the book's Amazon page. Look, it's only $14.87 on Kindle!):

"When an author uses a loaded word like 'reckless' in a book's title, the burden of proof is high. . . . Steffy meets the burden by demonstrating that corporate behemoth BP . . . could have prevented the 11 deaths on April 20, 2010, aboard the Deepwater Horizon."
San Antonio Express-News

"Steffy has produced a fascinating, gripping, revealing account. . . . The book details events aboard the Deepwater Horizon in April of 2010 to start, but it digs deeper into what is revealed as a culture of cost-cutting boiling over within BP. Steffy documents years of incidents and poor management decisions."
Seattle Post Intelligencer

Get more Loren on his Chronicle blog, on Twitter and at this index of his blog posts.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Update on A&M's nascent SPJ chapter: events, trips

Head of Texas A&M Journalism Studies Dale Rice e-mailed me this nice bit of info about the students who make up A&M's SPJ chapter, which was revived in fall 2009. These are folks who are seriously interested in journalism careers, and seeking internships and jobs in the field:
Sixteen students came to the last SPJ meeting earlier this month. Small? Yes. But that's great when we didn't have a campus chapter a year and a half ago. They're co-hosting events, getting together socially, talking about careers, going on fieldtrips. They're even participating as a group in the Big Event next month.
I've asked Dale to extend an invitation to these students to join our LinkedIn group (at http://bit.ly/AJlinkedin), where they can maybe prowl around and make connections with Aggie professionals in the areas they're interested in.

Here's the A&M chapter's home page, Student Activities page and Facebook page.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Update on journalism at A&M: More classes coming

At the Fall Reception, head of Journalism Studies Dale Rice gave FJSA an update on the program that includes a Pulitzer-winner's visit, a high-tech political reporting class for the 2012 election cycle, and my new favorite fact: "We will have 16 journalism courses in the catalog next year, compared with eight a year ago." Read on for more!

The 2010-2011 academic year is off to a great start for Journalism Studies. Here are some examples of our progress:
  • We’re continuing to raise the profile of Journalism Studies within the College of Liberal Arts and the university at large. We co-hosted, with American Studies, Pulitzer Prize winner Sonia Nazario in September. Her book, “Enrique’s Journey,” was selected by the college as this year’s Common Ground read for all incoming freshmen. Besides exposing a wide audience to an award-winning journalist, Sonia’s visit allowed time for her to spend several hours with journalism students, both in and out of classroom settings.
  • Our newly reformed student chapter of SPJ has been officially recognized by both the national organization and the university. SPJ members are working hard to recruit new folks and build the organization. For example, they are meeting next week to build sandwich boards to place on campus, one of the perks that come with being an official student organization.
  • We’re working to broaden the Journalism Studies program. We currently have six new course listings winding their way up the approval chain. They include five cross-listed courses (one of which is the blogging course I created with that purpose in mind) and a new course in political reporting.
  • With two courses added to the books this year, we will have 16 journalism courses in the catalog next year, compared with eight a year ago.
  • I am working now with Charlie Madigan, a former journalist at the Chicago Tribune and now professor at Roosevelt University in Chicago to jointly teach a course in political reporting via videoconference, with half the students in the class from Roosevelt and half from A&M. It was the suggestion of Charles Middleton, president of Roosevelt, who I met when he was here as the keynote speaker for a conference on campus. We will launch the course in the 2012 election cycle, which should offer lots of great reporting opportunities for the students.
  • We are exploring with the university and Rick Dunham, the Washington Bureau chief for Hearst Newspapers, the possibility of placing a journalism student in Washington each semester as part of the Public Policy Internship Program. Working with Dunham, the students would report and write stories dealing with public policy issues for the Hearst wire.
  • Finally, on a personal note, I’m really excited to see interest growing in journalism on campus. I’m teaching a one-hour freshmen seminar on food writing, part of the university’s effort to provide a small-class setting for first-year students who are mostly in very large classes. On Wednesday, after class, two of the students stayed behind to discuss the program and said they were going to apply now. That’s what makes this job fulfilling: to see freshmen joining Journalism Studies because they’re interested in a career in the profession. In just a few years’ time, you are going to look at those students who came into the program early and made use of our expanded offerings to obtain a first-rate journalism education and you are going to be very proud of them. FJSA’s support of the program has been a critical factor in our rebuilding effort, and we can’t thank you enough for that.

Recapping the flap: A&M System re-examines FOIA rule

Toward the close of 2010, A&M journalism was in the news in a negative light: An A&M System policy suddenly became a source of controversy when the System's general counsel wrote a letter interpreting the long-dormant rule to mean faculty could not direct students to file FOIAs on System schools.

System officials are taking another look at the ruling, which brought angry rebukes from former students as well as Texas newspapers and national journalism groups.

For the full story, I encourage everyone to read San Antonio Express-News writer and past FJSA president Roy Bragg's examination of the issue.

Where has your blogger been? Pretty much underwater

Hey guys, I'm writing this to apologize for getting behind with the blog here. It's been an unusually busy December/January for me both personally and at work. So I'm going to catch up quickly on a couple items I should have posted long ago (see next two posts).

And after that, I will get back in touch with some of the great people I've asked for interviews for the blog... and then failed to follow up with. Kind people like Anthony Andro, who covered the Rangers' amazing ride to the World Series; Joe Ruiz, a Texas State grad who agreed to share the story of how his online coverage helped the Seattle Times to a Pulitzer; and Aggies who are starting all kinds of successful endeavors online and off.

So I hope these folks forgive me too, and I will be scrambling to catch up!

Yours from somewhere underwater (but rising to the surface!),

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Memorial info for Hargrove '66; services are Saturday

Tom Hargrove '66 will be laid to rest Saturday in Rotan, northwest of Abilene, near the farm where he grew up. Here are today's stories about him from the Houston Chronicle and Bryan-College Station Eagle:

Thomas Hargrove risked his life to feed world's poor
Aggie who inspired "Proof of Life" dies at 66

The family has said that donations/flowers are not expected, but if people wish to make a donation, the family has given it a lot of thought and they suggest donations could go to the Borlaug International Scholars Fund at A&M. The fund has a touching note up on its website about Dr. Hargrove.

We are deeply saddened by the death of Dr. Tom Hargrove – scientist, humanitarian, author, friend, husband, and father. Dr. Hargrove dedicated his life to communicating the needs of international agriculture development. He was a long-time friend of Dr. Borlaug and the entire staff of the Borlaug Institute. He will be missed. The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, memorials be made to the Borlaug International Scholars Fund. Details can be found below. For more about the incredible life of Dr. Hargrove, two of his books can be found at the Texas A&M University Press: Dragon Lives Forever about his agriculture development work in Vietnam during the war and Long March to Freedom about his hostage experience in Columbia.

Memorials can be made to:

Borlaug International Scholars Fund
401 George Bush Drive
College Station, TX 77840

Submit online memorials at http://givenow.tamu.edu/.
From the two drop-down menus, select “College of Agriculture and Life Sciences” and “Borlaug International Scholars.”

Our love and respect go out to Dr. Hargrove's family.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tom Hargrove '66 dies of heart attack

A brief report earlier today from the Eagle on Twitter gave news that Tom Hargrove '66 died Sunday of a heart attack. I'll look for more news to come, but I wanted to post here the text of our plaque honoring Hargrove, who in 1996 was the first journalist inducted by Texas A&M's Former Journalism Students Association into its Hall of Honor.

Please leave me news, updates or tributes in the comments or send to aggiejournalists (at) gmail (dot) com.
(photo of plaque, above, taken by Jerry Cooper '63)

The plaque reads:

Tom Hargrove is a distinguished writer and publisher whose life work has involved finding ways to get practical agricultural publications into the hands of farmers throughout the Third World.

He worked for 18 years as a writer and editor with the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines. By 1989, under his leadership, the institute had published 33 books in more than 40 languages in 29 countries. This included "A Farmer's Primer on Growing Rice," the world's most widely published agricultural book. He left the Philippines for Cali, Colombia, in 1992 where he headed the communications unit for the International Center for Tropical Agriculture.

On his way to work one day in September 1994, Hargrove was kidnapped by Colombian rebels and held for ransom. For 11 months, he lived in chains in primitive camps in the Andes. In an extraordinary display of courage and tenacity, Hargrove survived his ordeal and, starving, stumbled out to the mountains after his family had negotiated his release. Hargrove kept a daily journal, scribbled on checkbook stubs and other scraps of paper. His diary became an inspiring book, "Long March to Freedom: Tom Hargrove's own story of his kidnaping by Colombian Narco-Guerrillas."

Hargrove grew up on a cotton farm in Rotan, Texas, and graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in agricultural journalism in 1966.