TPA President

Small town living, neighborly concern: Priceless

I love working at community newspapers.
Most of all, small-town newspapers are true reflections of the communities they serve. Those small towns and cities are all things hyper-local.
Everyone pretty much knows everyone else. Or if they don’t, they know “his brother’s sister-in-law’s son’s cousin.”
Move into a new neighborhood and don’t be surprised if a new neighbor knocks at your door holding a chicken-and-spaghetti casserole, offering a warm welcome and politely inquiring, “Have y’all found a new church home yet?”

AG spokesman suggests public officials slow-ball FOIA requests

Well, it’s been about a month since Texas Attorney General spokesman Marc Rylander bloviated his way into the headlines.
 I find myself still seething over his remarks during an AG’s training conference, in which he slandered our profession and essentially encouraged public information officers for governmental entities to slow-ball public information requests from the news media.
Nearly every day, I find myself turning the whole episode over in my mind. His remarks have me reacting in so many ways. Let me count some of them.

Food for the journalism soul in crazy times

We live in truly crazy and sophomoric times.
I don’t care who you voted for in the last presidential election; I don’t care where you fall on the political spectrum. At the national level, it’s become a big mudslinging match with all sides involved, including some of our Beltway news media brethren.
All too often, people have allowed their ideology to overwhelm their intellect – and their tempers to run roughshod over reason and accommodation.
And if you’re like me, you’ve noticed some of that mud has splattered on us hometown newspapers.

Need a lift? Spend career day with third graders

A lot of us love newspapering because of all the challenges the business presents us each day. But from time to time, all those challenges can have us feeling really down in the dumps.
We continue to grapple with how we communicate our journalism and advertising to an increasingly diffused and finicky market. Revenue challenges mean we have to work even harder in an attempt to deliver more with tighter budgets. And we always seem to hear from those who are all too quick to hate us for what we do or don’t do.

Learning, loving the newspaper business

Do you remember your first real assignment? I do.
It was my first day as a summer intern at the old San Antonio Light. Up walked Bend Segal, a gruff, seasoned assistant city editor who had weaned many a cub reporter. He handed me a six-page press release. “Rewrite it,” he said. “And let me know when you’re done.”
Seems like it took me forever to rewrite that press release. But I finally managed to finish it, reducing the six-page release to three. I handed the copy to Ben, who took his red marker and quickly circled a typo and handed it back to me, saying, “Do it again.”

The horrible hurricane that was Harvey showed us a lot

Once again, Mother Nature showed us just how brutal and indiscriminate she can be. The storm raked the Texas coast in late August, devastating places like Rockport, Port Aransas and Aransas Pass. And then its leftovers tried to drown cities such as Houston, Beaumont and Port Arthur.
It turned the lives of so many upside down – literally destroyed some. People will be spending the coming months and years trying to put everything back together as best as possible.

Summer meeting musings

Well, we just wrapped up what I like to call the Texas Press Association’s very first “international conference” — the TPA Summer Leadership Retreat in Ruidoso, NM. Heck, we were even in a different time zone!
As always, the gathering was a great success. It featured great programs and discussion. And it gave us the opportunity to offer a huge “Thank You!” to outgoing TPA President Randy Keck for the stellar job he did for the organization this past year.