Monday, February 25, 2008

Endorsing candidates

In this week's issue of The South Texan, the editorial board of the newspaper will endorse candidates for the Democratic and Republican Texas primaries March 4. The editorial board of The South Texan will announce that it will endorse Barack Obama (pictured with this posting) for the Democratic Primary presidential bid, John McCain for the Republican presidential bid, and longtime state representative Juan Escobar for the District 43 seat. Some of the students in our journalism and RTV program questioned the ethics of this move. They feel as if the media's role is to inform and not to tell people how they should exercise their right to vote. They are correct, of course. Information is presented in news pages. Opinions are presented in editorial or op-ed pages. It is in the op-ed pages where newspaper staffs are allowed to take positions on a variety of issues, including elections. Endorsing candidates for office is a long-held American newspaper tradition. In most cases, the decision is arrived at after long discussion and consideration of the candidates' merits by an editorial board. Often, the editorial boards personally interview each candidate (this is a must rule for local races) before reaching a consensus and endorsing a candidate. In rare instances, the publisher or editor of the newspaper make the decision for the editorial staff. For The South Texan, the process of selecting whom was to be endorsed by the staff was handed by Juan Carlos Reyes, Editorial Page Editor and Associate Editor for the newspaper. He polled each member of the editorial staff - composed of editor Dominique Garcia, all the pages editors plus the advertising manger - and then informed them what the decision was. This is not an easy chore. Often, like in an election, the vote is close. The key here is that the newspaper endorses the candidate who received the most votes in the endorsement process. Consensus is reached and a candidate is chosen. Never do we say, flip a coin. They're both so wonderful, etc. An editorial is then written supporting this candidate. The opinion will appear in the newspaper without a byline. In other words, no one person will take credit for that article. The opinion, instead, is that of the entire newspaper staff or newspaper editorial board - a consensus that the candidate is the best person for the job. Editorials are never "signed." Editorials are never the opinion of one person. Editorials also should never use the pronoun "I." We joke about it in class that sometimes writers for an ed-op piece sound like a Mexican mariachi "I, I, I, I . . ." While this is allowed in columns, it is never allowed in editorials. One of the jobs of the newspaper in the editorial page is to add to the element of debate. Endorsing candidates adds to this. And, just for the record, every major daily newspaper in Texas has endorsed Barack Obama for the March 4 Democratic primary. I wonder how that will impact the election? Check and see whom the staff of The South Texan supports. The paper will be out Tuesday, Feb. 26, and online at that same day. Who are you supporting and, will you vote?

Friday, February 22, 2008

TAMUK student journalists on the road again

As Sen. Ted Kennedy, Sen. Barack Obama and former president Bill Clinton brought their campaign rhetoric to South Texas this week, student journalists from the journalism and radio-television programs from Texas A&M University-Kingsville were there to take photos, shoot video, do interviews, take notes and report news that impacts our university, South Texas and, of course, our state, nation and the world. It has been a pleasure to see the excitement in our students' eyes as they get the next "BIG" assignment and to get a taste of "real world" journalism. During these events, they get to "mingle" with the national press corps and touch shoulders, literally, with many of the area's professional journalists. They are there and I know it's a privilege they do not abuse.

It's great to cover TAMUK events and activities and our student journalists relish that experience, too. However, to be present for a speech delivered by a former or future president in a dynamic manner is inspiring and helps our students understand that - as journalists - that is their mission. It's their job to report what great minds think and to analyze how those great minds can impact us - the citizens.

During the past week, The South Texan sent reporter and Spanish Page Editor Edwin Vasquez to report on Sen. Ted Kennedy's visit to Corpus Christi. On Friday, a team of reporters was sent to cover Barack Obama's speech at the cavernous American Bank Center in Corpus Christi. That team included Juan Carlos Reyes, Kristie Ann Vela, Keiona Ausbie, Roberta Flores and Michelle Leal. All were under the direction of journalism lab instructor Adriana Garza, a staffer and columnist for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, as well. On Saturday, J.R. Quintanilla and Edwin Vasquez will report on former president Bill Clinton's visit to South Texas Vasquez's photo of Clinton is featured on this post. Read their reports on the Feb. 26 issue of The South Texan, catch it all on the web and maybe even listen to it on KTAI 91.1 FM.

If there is a story in our area that impacts US, the RTV and Journalism programs of TAMUK are dedicated to go and get the facts. And, in case you miss our print edition, radio or TV news, check out our news on the web at Stay tuned......

KUDOs for Hillary Issue

During the past two years, we have had several good to great issues of The South Texan. The last issue (Feb. 19, 2008), however, stands out as one of the most outstanding. Staff members of The South Texan - under the leadership of editor Dominique Garcia - sent teams to McAllen and Robstown to cover the presidential campaign visit of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. The reporting was excellent and the photographs of top quality. For that reason, KUDOs this week goes to all of the TAMUK student journalists who made this coverage of Clinton's visit possible. KUDOs goes to Dominique Garcia, Rubi Reyes, Catherine Myers, Edwin Vasquez and Ellie Tamez (whose video was used on our website). Cat Myers' excellent photo of Hillary at the Nueces County Showbarn in Robstown is featured on this post. But, the quality of the newspaper did not stop there. Mary Beth Cleavlin had an excellent on TAMUK President Rumaldo Juarez stepping down. Edwin had a solid story on the battle for the State Representative battle between Juan Escobar and Tara Rios Ybarra. Our Page 2, designed by Roberta Flores, had some excellent items on the NAACP Image Awards. Kristie Ann Vela gets special recognition, too. While covering a story on the flu epidemic on campus, guess what? Kristie got the flu. Now, that's getting into the story. Angela Palacios, Lorraine Rodriguez, Jaime Gonzalez and Juan Carlos Reyes also had excellent stories. Jaime, our sports editor, continues to improve and is doing a solid job. Another special mention goes to our ed-ops writers. Carlos Alvarado had a timely and poignant piece on the shootings at Northern Illinois. Any other week - without the Hillary campaign coverage - Carlos would have won KUDOs all by himself and being in the pot for the $100 scholarship drawing at the end of the year. Still, Carlos, well done. All of these items and photos, of course, can be enjoyed in print and on our Internet site. Our Internet Editor Bob Pena has done a superb job. Visit us at We'll see you there. Until then, congratulations to the KUDOs winners. You're in the pot for the $100.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

TAMUK students to attend ADDY Awards

Journalism, design and RTV students from Texas A&M University-Kingsville will be attending the ADDYS 2007 Awards Banquet in Corpus Christi American Bank Center, Feb. 21. The students attending are part of TAMUK's American Advertising Federation National Student Advertising Competition team. The team is trying to raise money to attend the District 10 collegiate competition in Dallas, Texas, in April. There they will be competiting against some of the strongest universities in the nation with advertising, marketing and public relations programs. The group needs to raise $8,000 to $10,000 to make the trip possible. Any one wishing to donate to the group's fund-raising effort please contact Dr. Manuel Flores at 361-593-3913 or on the cell at 361-813-7808.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Hero Worship not a journalistic thing to do

In this celebrity-crazed world, it is difficult to not do a little "hero worshipping" when a celebrity appears. This may have been the case for some young journalists who covered the visit of Hillary Clinton to South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley as she drummed up support for her Democratic bid for president. Even professionals have a problem with this and, reportedly,  with visits from Barack Obama (whose photo is fetured with this post), Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy and other politicos in the horizon, the possibilities of someone getting a case of the "heroes" is more prevalent than ever. Young reporters must focus when covering important stories like a visit of a top presidential candidate to the area. They must remember that they are there on an assignment and not on a leisurely stroll down ga-ga land. To be able to accomplish this, a young reporter must prepare throughly for the assignment. Because there is a chance he or she may get "tongue-tied (a case or the heroes will do this)," questions must be prepared in advance. It is advisable, also, to carry a digital recorder just in case the "heroes" turn into jitters. Being prepared, for a journalist, is nothing new. Getting a case of the "heroes," however, can foil even a veteran reporter's attempt to get the story. So, stay calm, stay focused and get that story. Enjoy the moment. And, remember, nothing can replace the feeling of seeing your byline on an important story. Now, if you remember that, you can do your own hero worshipping. So, be a hero and get that story, no matter who or what is staring you in the face.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

KUDOS for 1st 3 weeks

One of the traditions at The South Texan is to name a "Staffer or Staffers of the Week." This honor is called "KUDOS." Each KUDOS recipient becomes eligible for the drawing of $100 scholarship at the end of the semester during The South Texan and Javelina Press Club annual "-30- Party" or end-of-the-year gathering. The KUDOS winner will have displayed dedication to their fellow staffers and the newspaper and should have gone above and beyond their required duties.
Managing Editor Roberta Flores exemplified the KUDOS spirit for this year's first issue of The South Texan. She covered one page one story, one campus news story and designed a page. her leadership is a critical part of The South Texan newsroom. KUDOS to you, Bobbie!
Graphic designer Cat Myers is the recipient of the KUDOS award for week two of The South Texan. Cat took on the story of alumna Carmen Lomas Garza's visit to the campus. The art work with this blog is one of Lomas Garza's most recognizable cultural works. A mother is trying to cure her child's earache with an old-fashioned home remedy. Cat also took the initiative of helping to add some "flair" to the page one package. Cat has also been a reliable leader in the newsroom this semester. Her efforts in all areas have not gone unnoticed. KUDOS to you, Cat!
The third week of The South Texan saw the ushering in of a new look to our Sports page. As the new sports editor, Jaime's vision for the sports page included a very professional look, including Jav-a-Stats. Jaime has taken possession of the sports page and made it his own. KUDOS to you, Jaime.

The staff has started off well this semester. This week the paper was mostly finished by Monday morning. This was a great effort by all. Keep up the good work, all and remember-- work hard enough and you could be $100 bucks richer at the end of the year!

Student Journalists Cover Hillary Clinton's visit to S. Texas

The South Texan staff was busy covering the visit of Sen. Hillary Clinton to South Texas as she tried to drum support for the Texas primary. South Texan staffers Ellie Tamez and Rubi Reyes left early in the morning Feb. 13 to cover Clinton's speech and press conference in McAllen, where she was courting Rio Grande Valley voters. Meanwhile, South Texan editor Dominique Garcia and reporters Catherine Myers and Edwin Vasquez  travelled to Robstown later that day to cover Clinton's visit to Nueces County. The reports will be published in the Feb. 19 issue of The South Texan but may be on-line sooner.  Reporting on events like this from a student interest viewpoint is part of The South Texan's mission. Let us know what you think of this effort.

Spring Semester Issues

The first three issues of The South Texan have been produced and are now history. Editor Dominique Garcia and her staff have done an admirable job with limited resources and with much volunteer effort. The last two issues, in particular, have been outstanding. The new page 2 design has brought a new level of interaction with the student body with a new feature that includes questions and answers on a variety of topics. The Jav-a-Bit section includes news TAMUK students would not usually read in a student newspaper - like the premier of alumna Eva Longoria Parker's new movie. Eva's picture is featured with this posting. It's hard to imagine that not too long ago she was taking a Structure of the Arts class here at TAMUK, was elected Miss TAMUK and was a cheerleader for the Javelinas. The "briefly" section and "police blotter" are also designed very well and have interesting information for out students. The staff continues to do a good job with its news coverage, features, layouts and design. Our new associate editor - Juan Carlos Reyes - is revamping the ed-ops page so that it includes more poignant controversial issues. Our new sports editor - Jaime Gonzalez - is revamping the sports section to include Jav-A-Stats so that the student body has a vehicle to see Lone Star Conference standings and other reports which normally do not appear in media in South Texas. Overall, it's a good start for the semester and more is in store.

Conflict of Interest Lesson

In a recent edition of The South Texan, we ran a review on the university's drama production of "Sleeping Beauty." While the critical review was well presented and written well, it did not completely meet ethical standards for journalism. The review was done by a student who had tried out for the production and was not chosen as one of the cast members. That presents an automatic bias and the staff (and adviser) should have prevented that student from doing the review. While this was not a serious breach of ethics, it could have been. The review was critical and to the point, but it should have been written by another student journalist.

South Texan now on KTAI radio

The South Texan staff has joined forces with KTAI 91.1 FM, the university's radio station, to provide news updates on a daily basis. South Texan reporters record daily updates every afternoon for a session called "91 Seconds of News with the South Texan."  The reports run every 91 minutes from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. and contain news and information about university and community activities. The reports can also be heard daily on The South Texan's website - Keep up with  news of Texas A&M University-Kingsville through our weekly print edition, our daily radio broadcasts or popular website.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Javelina Journalism

UIL Journalism Workshop a Big Success
Thanks to the 12 high school that attended the second annual Javelina Press Club UIL High School Journalism Workshop on the campus of Texas A&M University-Kingsville. More than 125 high school students attended the day-long workshop which had all the attending students attend every session on UIL events such as headline writing, feature writing, newswriting and editorial writing. We hope that those students learned some of the basics and that they will do well in their contests later this Spring. The 12 high schools attending were: Corpus Christi Moody, Corpus Christi Carroll, Corpus Christi Tuloso-Midway, Corpus Christi Calallen, Hebbronville, Hidalgo, Orange Grove, Edinburg North, San Isidro, Banquete, Falfurrias and Freer. Also, a big thanks to TAMUK Students Services Staff led by Nino and Crispin. Thanks for helping us make this a success.

First issue TAMUK Communicator is out
The first issue of the TAMUK Communicator, the magazine produced by the Communications/Theatre Arts Department of Texas A&M University-Kingsville has been published and has been distributed to alumni, high school journalism programs in South Texas and selected media outlets. The magazine features the latest news from TAMUK's Comm-TA Department, focuses on the activities of the different programs and highlights what some of the students are doing, including internships and research. Also, it features five Comm-TA Alumni and where they are now in their careers and also announces the creation of the Friends of Javelina Journalism account to raise funds for scholarships and other activities of the department. If you would like to receive a copy of this first issue, please contact the Comm-TA Department at 361-593-3401 and talk to our Office Administrator Ilda. Also, you can email a request either to or Thos 000 are zeroes. Okay? Bueno, good luck!
Dr. Manuel Flores
Associate Professor of Journalism/Communications
Texas A&M University-Kingsville