Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The role of the critic

One of the jobs that a newspaper has is to serve as the eyes and ears of people when it comes to things such as drama productions, musical performances, movies and eateries (restaurants). It is not uncommon for staffers of The South Texan to attend one of the university's drama productions and write a "review." Also, from time-to-time, the reporters will review a university concert or a new album a group has released. It is at this time that many ask, "What qualifies these students as experts?" Well, they are not "experts." They represent the common citizen or student who is being subjected to the performances and they often review the action from a layman's point of view. This is especially true at the collegiate level where student reviewers (critics) are just honing their skills. As they progress into the professional ranks, they become more familiar with what makes a good drama production, good music or even good custom-making and scenery. Reviewing drama or musical productions is just part of the work we do at The South Texan and our students regularly look forward to these assignments. Having said that, it is important to note that the students who are chosen usually have a background in the area they have been picked to review or have been doing this for some time. The Advanced Reporting class offers a section of "critical reviews" for students and prepares them for this chore. In addition, the Structure of the Arts class gives students a background in many areas. Once on staff, students are coached as to what to look for when assigned to do a review. The reviews, while critical, are not intended to be personal assaults on any one and never should reflect that character. From time-to-time student reviewers will assert things such as a certain actor should speak louder or the scenery was not appropriate. Other times the review will ask why sound systems were not improved. All are done in a positive manner, supposedly. The reviews are not supposed to offend, and we hope none have. Also, we have learned that the reviews often help the student actors get better and improve their skills. Whether this happened because of the review or because the student just improved, we can't tell. Also, the reviews serve as a learning experience for the drama students who must get used to "critical reviews." Pictured with this blog is a scene from the Drama Program's last play, "Somewhere in the Middle."
Having said, the last drama production of the season - "Steel Magnolias" - was awesome. It was one of the best that I (Dr. Manuel Flores) have ever since at this university, dating back to the 1950s when I saw a King Lear production. Congratulations to all the cast members.

Let us know what you think of the reviews by our South Texan reporters. And, are you interested in joining our staff to do this type of story? Call. That's all.

KUDOS for March 11 issue

Some of you may not have noticed it, but the March 11 issue (which was missing a folio on the front page) was published at a new site. The South Texan staff, under the direction of editor Dominique Garcia, decided to try Kingsville Publishing Co. this week after a four-year stay with Alice Publishing Co. The results are not visible to the untrained eye but, overall, the quality seems better. It is up to Dominique and her staff to decide whether to publish there at the rest of the semester. Poor production from the previous publisher was only one of the issues on the switch last week. Other factors involved delivery time due to the trip to and from Alice and failure to get our FTP process to work properly. The cost of gas was also getting prohibitive. So, for having the courage to make a switch and try something new, KUDOs this week goes to our editor - Dominique Garcia. I'm sure she will share this with her staff. Congratulations Dom, you are in the pot for the $100. Featured on this post is a photo of Mariachi Javelina by staffer J.R. Quintanilla.
Also, this week, KUDOs is being awarded to Bob Pena, our website editor. If you haven't seen our website at tamuk.edu/southtexan, you are truly missing a treat. Over the past year, Bob has been working on improving our site and finally, this semester, he has it at a point where it has to be one of the best student newspaper websites in the state and nation. The site features not only archived PDFs of past issues, but also photo galleries, a radio newscast in conjunction with KTAI and video. It's excellent. For that, Bob is in the pot for the $100 scholarship to be awarded during the Javelina Press Club's and The South Texan's "-30- Party."

Congratulations to Dom and Bob for their efforts and thanks for the hard work of all the staff.