"Rambling" by Russel Skiles, TPA President 2012-13
It is hard to express just what an honor it is to be representing you, the newspapers of Texas, as president of such a great organization as the Texas Press Association.
That honor, as several of my predecessors have noted, particularly strikes home when the TPA president has the privilege of carrying the Texas flag into the room during the opening breakfast at the National Newspaper Association’s annual convention.
Making the opportunity even more special for me at the recent NNA convention in Charleston, S.C., was the fact that our own Roy Eaton, a former NNA president from the Wise County Messenger in Decatur, was at the podium calling the roll of states for the flag ceremony.
Another NNA past president from Texas, Jerry Tidwell of the Hood County News, led the Texas delegation in giving a rousing welcome as our flag entered the room.
That certainly had everyone taking notice that Texas again was well represented at the national convention.
Texas normally has one of the largest delegations at the event, and about 20 TPA members and associates made the trip to historic Charleston in early October.
TPA Past President Chad Ferguson, the Texas standard-bearer last year, was pressed into duty this year to carry the flag of one of the states that didn’t have any representation at the convention.
Making the rounds of the booths at the NNA’s trade show, TPA Advertising Director Dwight McKenzie recruited several to participate in our own trade show during the upcoming Texas Press Midwinter Conference in Houston.
Following the Charleston convention, NNA officials announced the organization will be bringing its annual convention to Texas in 2014.
A committee of mostly Texans will be formed next year to help organize and host that event at the Grand Hyatt in San Antonio.
I hope TPA members across the state will take the opportunity to attend that convention and get to know a little more about NNA and what it is doing for community newspapers in Texas and across the nation.
TPA and NNA have a long history of working together on items of importance at the national level for both organizations.
NNA currently is leading the way for the newspaper industry in dealing with the Postal Service on a number of issues ranging from plans to close mailing facilities to the sweetheart deal postal officials have made with one of our competitors in distributing advertising circulars.
TPA also received a bit of additional recognition on the national level recently when Fred Anders, our information technology director, served as an instructor at the Institute of Newspaper Technology hosted by Kevin Slimp in Tennessee.
Anders, who provides training to Texas newspapers upon request in his role with TPA, did such a good job in Tennessee that he already has been invited for a return engagement next year.
Also on the subject of TPA staffers, it is exciting to have Donnis Baggett stepping into the new position of executive vice president.
In that role Baggett will be leading TPA’s lobbying efforts at the state level on a variety of issues ranging from open government to taxes affecting our industry.
Baggett, former publisher of the Waco Tribune-Herald, is a natural fit for that position. He not only has worked in Texas newspapers for some 40 years but has filled active roles with the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas and the TPA/TDNA Legislative Advisory Committee.
Baggett chaired the LAC during two state legislative sessions and served as president of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association in 2004.
In making the announcement, Executive Director Mike Hodges said Baggett is equally comfortable whether talking to the speaker of the house or visiting with the publishers of the smallest or largest newspapers in Texas.
In fact, Baggett will be visiting many newspapers across the state to help familiarize them with some of the legislative efforts and enlist their support in the open-government battles that newspapers fight on a regular basis.
Baggett’s work will supplement and complement that of Laura Prather, who was chosen earlier this year to represent Texas newspapers in a lobbying effort to ensure that public notices continue to be published in newspapers where they can readily be seen by the people they are designed to reach.
Anyone wanting to take an active role in the TPA’s legislative work is invited to get involved with the Legislative Advisory Committee.
The group, representing newspapers of all sizes across the state, will get organized in early December. Beginning in January, they will be meeting almost every other week through March to keep track of bills that could impact Texas newspapers or the public’s right to know about the workings of its government bodies.
If you would like to join that group or get more information, give TPA Member Services Director Ed Sterling a call. He, too, is a key member of the team that keeps watch on our legislators while they are in session.
The Texas newspaper industry is facing plenty of challenges but at the same time it is exciting be a part of the organization that is working to help ensure we meet and overcome those obstacles.