Saturday, August 30, 2008

KUDOs and Special Awards - Back to School Issue and Aug. 26 issue

The first issue of the semester was our "Back to School" special edition which was published Aug. 21. This issue is always hard to produce because many of the students have not yet returned to campus or to their Kingsville apartments. As a result, a skeleton staff does most of the work while some assignments are produced from the students' homes and are digitally sent to the staff in charge. While meeting deadline was hard, South Texan Lab Director Adriana Garza rallied our staffers to complete all their tasks and the result was a pretty decent publication.
Back to School KUDOs: Jeremy Martinez, Yamira Gonzalez-Mendiola, Kristie Vela, Jaime Gonzalez
This year's issue was not as "pretty" as last year's, because of a lack of funds. Last year's issue was published in higher-quality paper and, thus, had the slick look to it that made it seem a bit "more special." This year's edition was published on good, ol' newsprint and it looks like a tabloid newspaper. While not as fancy, the product was as good or better.
The cover was especially well done by staff artist and cartoonist Jeremy Martinez. Featuring the traditional "Porky" Javelina logo and the College Hall Tower replica on the cover prominently, ensured that students and other readers knew that we respected the past traditions. But, then, adding "A Renewed Sprit" for a theme and having the new "screaming Javelina" logo coming from out of the word spirit, signified the future and spoke of the changing face of our university as we undergo a major construction project and embark in a new era of leadership under a new president, who is expected to be announced in September. For his magnificent cover, Jeremy Martinez gains a KUDOs to start out the year. He is "in the pot" for the $100 scholarship to be drawn from KUDOs winners at the end of the semester during the Javelina Press Club's annual "-15- Party" or Holiday Party. Good luck to him and thank you Jeremy for an excellent product. Jeremy worked on this cover several days and came up with several versions before approval. Jeremy is already an award-winning cartoonist with The South Texan, having claimed first place for cartoon in Texas Intercollegiate Press Association competition last year. Evidently, more awards await Jeremy this year.
Another person who deserves mention for this issue was our new advertising manager/spanish page editor. When funds were short and our advertising revenues from last year did not have enough money to even pay for this issue, Yamira volunteered to take charge of advertising for "at least" the Back to School issue. Her efforts - along with that of her advertising team of Jaime Gonzalez and Kristie Vela - resulted on at least 50 percent of the edition being paid for from advertising funds. She and her advertising team did an excellent job. So, they too gets KUDOs. Yamira is a transfer student from Del Mar College and she hit the road running. Yamira, you're in the pot and welcome to TAMUK Journalism. Your spirit, hard work and passion are appreciated. And, as a bonus, Jaime and Kristie also make KUDOs for their efforts in advertising as well as in the production and story flow of the Back to School issue. Congratulations to the KUDOs winners for the Back to School issue. Other staffers like Angela Palacios, Carlos Alvarado, Mary Beth Cleavlin and Bob Pena made sure this Back to School issue was a good one. Thanks, again.
First Issue KUDOs: Jaime Gonzalez, Adrian Trevino
While the "Back to School" issue is hard to produce because of many of the staffers have yet to return, the first issue of the semester is even harder to produce. Okay, so now we are all mainly together. But, there are new faces and new assignments, we must cope with a new editor and adjust again to meeting deadlines that at times seem as hard as climbing Mount Everest. Such was the case that first week as the staffers struggled to make deadline and the dreaded phrase Dr. Flores issues each week - "We're not going to make it!" - was about to be fulfilled. Through the hard work of our Lab Director - Adriana Garza - and the dedication of our editor Juan Carlos Reyes and some key staff members, the day was saved. We missed deadline, but only by an hour, according to Cecil at the Alice Publishing Co., and we did not miss our print window. The paper was published and delivered on time and was "good" for a first issue. There were many mistakes and several layout and copy editing errors, but it was a good first effort and a learning experience that will only help to make us stronger in the coming weeks. Before we go on to the KUDOs portion of this blog comment, I would like to go over some items I feel we can improve on for the coming weeks.
First, we need to finalize our style sheets. Let's make sure the same style sheets are being used on every page.
Second, let's think about using decks. For example, on the front page, we did not use Dr. Tallant's name in the headline. It's okay, but the story called for a deck, at least.
Third, the weather feature is nice, but can we maybe promote this on our web? Bob, can we get a better weather web site.
Fourth, on the front page, we have to have a kick ass photo, a good one. Yamira salvaged this by using a PDF she was given. Also, why didn't we use those PDFs elsewhere to talk about the construction? JC, you have to make sure we have a SOLID photo. Kiki, that's your help JC get a solid photo.
Fifth, when we talk about someone as important as Gene Upshaw and don't have a photo, we just at the very least run a mug shot.
Sixth, on page 2...this was a nice first effort. we need to finalize this potpourri design and come up with some standing features. Do we want to run Our South Texas there or do we move it to features? Kristie, your call. Talk to Angela and Katrina about this. You can run it every other week. I prefer the student stuff and I liked JR's stuff on internships. Also, Kristie, we must have a distinctive photo each week. You are to assign this each week and Kiki is to make it happen, somehow. Get solid information for this feature. Also, you said we will be getting the Chupi cartoon every week. Good. Nice feature for this page. And, as far the Q&A that we had last year on this page, we don't need it if you don't want it. Move it to the editorial page. Talk to Kiki about it. That's your job, just make sure that JC knows about what you're doing and that you also talk to Adriana about this.
Seventh, we missed an opportunity for a great photo with the student lenders and financial aid line story. Are you kidding me? We get photos of people's behinds and they're not even in focus. Whoa, that's not what I meant. We have three state-of-art digital cameras and Photoshop, there is no excuse for this. JC and Kiki and any other page editor, do not let photos like this get in our paper!
Eighth, the Campus News Page had a solid story and an okay picture on the Fallen Heroes. Good job JC and Bob, that was good photo once we understood. Nice artistic work. We, however, embarrassed ourselves with the story on the Oaxacan culture and exhibit. This was a major story becasue the work they did is going to be used to decorate Bishop Hall, and we ran a story that had more than 20 mistakes. We have to read every thing that goes in our paper. I know this story was late, but it was one of the most embarrassing stories we have ever run, because of the mistakes. There's no excuse. There are people in Oaxaca, freaking Mexico, laughing at us beause of this. Come on! Please do better!
Ninth, I know we have U Wire,but I can't help but think that using material like this just means we're lazy. Editorial and columns, with the experience we have, should be one of the easier chores around. U Wire is "last resort" stuff, as far as I'm concerned. There were some good points here. Jaime's Upshaw column is very good and J.C. transition column kind of got better as it went along. And, of course, the Upshaw artwork by Jeremy is wonderful. Well done. This page must be planned ahead. We must have editorial board meetings and we must write the material ourselves, if at all possible. JC and Jaime, you work with Kiki to make this page work better. Also, start plannng the election stuff now.
Tenth, the features page was an intersting one. Nice photos and an interesting column(?) by Adrian. Angela, this is your page. You noticed that Adrian, one of our new reporters, used a little bit too much commentary in his article and you decided to run his mug with an editor's note. Good job. However, you are a veteran here. As a veteran you have the responsibility to train the new staffers. Work with Adrian and others and tell them we need to cover stories as objectively as possible. I know you can do this. You have the authority to do this, so help them get better. Adrian, by the way, did an excellent job and your solution, Angela, was a good one. Good job. Also, nice attempt at having strong photos, Jaime.
Eleventh, well done on the picks and on the layouts for pages 7 and 8. I would have liked a more polished and finished layout on Gene Upshaw but both these pages were very functional and a very "sporty" feel to them with stats and other material. Juan Carlos, good job on the Atterberry story. Now, sports guys, you need to think about what makes sports interesting to our students. What we have is excellent. But, the WIIFM factor is even more alluring to the sports aficionado than others who read the paper. What do the sports nuts want to know? Oh, well, let's see, how is the quarterbck battle coming? Who is this Billy the Kid guy? Who are the better players on the volleyball team. Photos, photos, features, features, quotes, quotes about and from our players is what we need. We need to sell our players to our students so that they can be excited about being Javelinas and go cheer for those who represent us on the field of play.
Bueno, enough.
Now, for KUDOs.....Very good work by many of our students. Juan Carlos Reyes, our editor, tried to pull us all together for this first issue. It wasn't easy. Again, through the help of our South Texan Lab Director, Adriana, we salvaged deadline. Thanks. But good stories were written by Yamira, Kristie, Angela, Katrina, Mary Beth and Carlos. We did have a short staff, so several of you all wrote more than one story. Believe me, that dedication is appreciated. Many of you showed much passion in meeting deadline and turning in a story on time for us to read and correct and even rewrite if we had to do that. Some of us turned our material and layout in much too late. Please don't do that. I'll leave it at that...please don't do that. When it comes to KUDOs, it's hard for JC, Adriana and I not to be impressed by the work of our managing editor Jaime Gonzalez. In that position, he must serve as an example to others. Jaime does this by taking on more than he can chew, at times. As a result, his only fault was not having everything ready by deadline, but that was more because of first-issue consequencs then lack of effort and hard work. Jaime had a solid front page story, a solid column, three photos, four sports stories and much more. For that, Jaime gets KUDOs. Another person who was impressive this first week was cub reporter Adrian Trevino. Seldom has a freshman stepped in and just taken off running covering stories and taking pictures. He did. He did well and showed passion. Thanks, Adrian. You have a bit to go but your effort is appreciated. For that reason, you're in the KUDOs pool as well.
Bueno, this was a mouthful. Please take the suggestions to heart. Please work to make OUR newspaper better and please work to be a team. Thank you for an exciting first two weeks and, if we keep improving, I promise to stop saying "We're not going to make it!" again. Nah, just kidding.

KTAI working on reformat

As the semester started, the university radio station - KTAI-FM 91.1, The One - has been busy working on a reformat that will make its debut sometime in September and October. The reformat will keep the same type of alternative, eclectic and oldies format Monday-Friday, but will add a "Sabado en Espanol" on Saturday and "Sunday is for Country" formats on Sunday. Dr. Carl Saltarelli and Kirk Notorianni will have more on this later. Meanwhile, the station will be broadcasting the Javelina football games as scheduled and has plans to do volleyball and basketball broadcasts as well.
Meanwhile, the radio station staff has announced it will again run its popular sports talk show - "The Bench Warmers" - again this semester. With two of the mainstays of that program either graduating and/or transferring (i.e. Larry Garza and Sean Rosales), the show will now be hosted by Juan Carlos Reyes and Jaime Gonzalez with different guests appearing each week. A third host is expected to be announced next week. Plans are for the show to start this coming Tuesday with a broadcast from the station on campus. In the future, the broadcast will move to businesses to be announced. It set for each Tuesday afternoon. Good luck to the bench warmers who will get some "PT (i.e. play time, ha) at least on the airwaves emitting from the KTAI tower - that's about a five mile area for sure and, with a strong wind from the Gulf of Mexico, you can get them in Ben Bolt, Premont, Driscoll and even Alice. Go Hogs!

Getting Started

The new school year has started and the staff of Texas A&M University-Kingsville student newspaper - The South Texan - is off and running. The semester started with new editor Juan Carlos Reyes and South Texan Lab Supervisor Adriana Garza leading the staff in a couple of "J-Camps" (i.e. Journalism Camps) to familiarize the staff with deadlines, style, interviewing and writing tips, office policy, key requests, etc. etc. The meetings went well. The highlight came with Dr. Teresa Remilus, VP for Student Affairs at TAMUK, addressed the staff and listed a myriad of activities that were going on in the university. She was a refreshing change to the stifling atmosphere that has dominated that area in the past and ensured us that her office would run every thing with the student in mind and that she would have a policy of transparency to make sure that communication channels would be open among the administration and the student. She said she saw the university newspaper and online editions as a key to that communication and transparency and we agree with that.
Meanwhile, the new staff is off and running. As we start the semester, here are the assignments as detailed by our editor, Mr. Reyes:
Jaime Gonzalez - Managing Editor, will be in charge of story flow, staff morale, planning and training new staffers. He will be laying out and designing the Sports pages and contributing to the opinion pages. Jaime is also in charge when Juan Carlos is otherwise occupied being "Mr. Fantastic" - as he likes to call himself on his MySpace account. Jaime will also help plan, organize and run the weekly South Texan Budget Meetings. He and Juan Carlos will both oversee and direct the weekly Editorial Board meetings, which include every page editor as well the chief reporter and on-line editor. Jaime is in charge of story production during the week and makes sure that every story assigned is turned in on time and runs in the paper. He can assign students to cover stories at any time a story develops, without the authority of the editor. He runs the newsroom. He has the authority to ask staffers to re-write stories.
Kristie Vela - Associate Editor, will be in charge of developing our "potpourri page", Page 2, and covering major stories. She is third in the chain of command. She will serve as Juan Carlos' top assistant and will help him develop and plan each issue. She has the authority to ask staffers to re-write stories or re-take photos.
Keiona "Kiki" E. Ausbie - Chief Photographer and Ed-Ops Page Designer, will be in charge of all photographic assignments, maintaining all camera equipment (i.e. making sure they are charged and properly working, cables are ready to download, etc.), develop and maintain a checkout format for cameras, designing the ed-ops page and assuring that columns and editorials are turned in in a timely manner. AS Chief Photographer, all photo assignments must be approved by her and all photographers must report to her. She must also ensure that at least one the cameras is available in The South Texan office every day. She will also assist Juan Carlos and Jaime with the weekly Editorial Board meetings. In addition, Kiki will be in charge of any special layouts or editions having to do with politics and elections and of developing a weekly question that can run on the editorial or opinions page.
Angela Palacios - Features and Entertainment Page Editor - in charge of all feature layouts, writing features and supervising feature stories turned in for use on the Features and Entertainment pages. It is her duty also to develop enterprise feature stories and to plan for feature stories ahead of time. She is the fourth in chain of command and is in charge of the newsroom whenever Jaime, Juan Carlos and Kristie are not around. Angela is also in charge of developing graphics for "bugs", "logos" or ads that are not ready for publication. Because of her experience, she has also been put in charge of ensuring that style (i.e. the cutlines, headlines, quoteouts and other design elements) are consistent throughout the newspaper. She also has the authority to ask staffers to re-write stories that appear on her assigned pages.
Yamira Gonzalez Mendiola - Advertising Manager and Spanish Page Editor, is in charge of all local and regional advertising (retail or local accounts) and of developing, designing and producing a Spanish Page at least once a month and on special occasions, i.e. Hispanic Heritage Month activities. As Advertising Manager, Yamira is to make sure all retail (local) ads are ready for publication, billing and maintaining a client list. She also works with Ms. Garza on ensuring prompt payment is made by our open accounts. As Spanish Page editor she is in charge of preparing and reviewing all copy and photographs which run on that page.
Robert Pena - Web Designer and Online Editor, will be in charge of all online media content and assuring that the newspaper put on the web on a timely manner, including PDFs of the current issue. He will also work with others in the department to develop online video and Podcasts. He reports directly to the editor and to the Lab Director.
Michele Leal - National and Regional Advertising Representative, will be in charge of all national and regional advertising (i.e. advertising from the Corpus Christi area). Will help coordinate billing of all advertising while working with the Editor, the Lab Director and the Advertising Manager for local (i.e. Kingsville area ads). She will also be in charge of maintaining contacts with Media Mate, the U.S. Army, Texas Army National Guard and other major accounts. She will be in charge of all insertion orders for national accounts and must maintain a contact email and fax number where these insertion orders can be sent to. She will work with the Lab Director - Adriana - to maintain these contacts.
Carlos Alvarado - Front Page Designer, will be in charge of developing a cohesive and attractive layout and design for the front page, every week. He is in charge of developing all layout and design elements on the Front Page, including the teasers and the lead photographs. Carlos will also assist with columns and editorial when needed.
Mary Beth Cleavlin - Chief Reporter, will usually be in charge of the lead story for the week. She also must develop enterprise (or in-depth) stories for the front page and campus news pages. She will get all her assignments from either Juan Carlos or from the Lab Director.
Adrian Trevino - Reporter, will be in charge of developing stories as assigned.
Katrina Alejandro - Features Writer, will be in charge of developing and maintaining stories for the "Our South Texas Feature" and also working with Angela in other assigned features.
Serbrina Salinas - Photographer, will take photos as assigned by the Chief Photographer and Editor and also will assist the Chief Photographer in maintaining photo equipment and equipment sign-out sheet.
Sabrina Reyna - Photographer, will take photos as assigned by the Chief Photographer and Editor and also will assist the Chief Photographer in maintaining photo equipment and equipment sign-out sheet.
Clavens Charles -Photographer, will take photos as assigned by the Chief Photographer and Editor and also will assist the Chief Photographer in maintaining photo equipment and equipment sign-out sheet.
NOTE: All page editors and designers are responsible for: (1) preparing the photos that appear on their pages by using Photoshop, (2)transferring the approved copy that appears on their pages to a new MS Word file that Bob Pena can use to upload into our website, (3) PDFing and archiving their page. Of course, meeting deadlines is essential.
As the semester progresses, other staffers will join our group. Their assignments will be delineated at the appropriate time.
For now, this is the working and volunteer staff. They represent a solid group of student journalist who have both the passion and the expertise to give our students a good product in both our print and online editions of The South Texan.