Q: Our school district board of trustees hired a search firm to look for a new superintendent. Our reporter feels like they have a plan mapped out that will keep the public out of the loop as far as naming possible candidates for the job. How can we get the names of the finalists, and what's the definition of finalists? Are they candidates who are interviewed more than once or candidates who interview in person? Can the district put us off and name only one finalist, the person who gets the job?
A: School districts may pay a search firm to find a sole finalist. Many choose the Texas Association of School Boards to conduct the search through its Executive Search Services. The interview and selection process needs to be completed and the name of a finalist or finalists must be made public — "at least 21 days before the date of the meeting at which a final action or vote is to be taken on the employment of the person" — as required by the Texas Public Information Act, Government Code Section 552.126: Confidentiality of Name of Applicant for Superintendent of Public School District.
There is no definition of "finalist" in the law. Arguably, 552.126 is more about protecting applicants' identifying information than informing the public.
Give us some details about yourself. Where are you from? How long have you worked in the newspaper industry? Where did you get your start?
I am a San Antonio native, who obtained my bachelor's degree from what was at the time East Texas State University. I have worked in the newspaper business for more than 32 years. I started my career fresh out of college at the San Antonio Light, in my hometown. I started out as a night police reporter and worked my way up through the ranks, covering beats at the county courthouse and City Hall. I even did a stint as a "rewrite man" before going on to serve as an assistant city editor and ultimately the newspaper's Sunday/special projects editor. The paper closed in 1993 and I was appointed editor of the Valley Morning Star in Harlingen. I went on to take on my first publisher's job in 1997 at the Porterville Recorder, a small, six days-a-week paper in California's San Joaquin Valley. After four years there I was promoted to a position at the corporate headquarters in Orange County, California, where I served as director of training and special projects for the community newspaper division. When the publisher's job opened up in Odessa back in 2003 I finally got to come "back home" to Texas. Never felt so lonesome as the time I had to surrender my Texas drivers license and obtain a California license when I moved out to the West Coast. I currently serve as publisher for the Odessa American and a regional vice president for AIM Media Texas LLC, which purchased the paper a few years back. I absolutely love it.
Tell us about your community and the life of a publisher. What's it like to work at the Odessa American?
Living and helping run a community paper in Odessa is about as fun and challenging as it gets. The region is going through its biggest oil boom ever and the hyper-growth experienced here presents incredible challenges and opportunities. It's hard to hire staff since our area has a labor deficit, but all of this growth means nothing but upside potential for us to grow this newspaper's audience and revenues. I see my role as publisher as more than just the "head bean counter." I consider myself the face of my newspaper in the community we serve and am very involved in many aspects of Odessa, ranging from serving on various boards to serving as current president of one of the local Rotary Clubs. I think it helps me in my job as publisher and helps the community see that this newspaper is engaged in Odessa life.
Glen Rose Reporter
Brent Addleman has been named managing editor of the Glen Rose Reporter. He comes to the newspaper with 18 years of experience in community, service-minded journalism. "With the better part of two decades in the industry, Brent brings his passion for community journalism and leadership to the community of Glen Rose. We are proud to introduce him as the new managing editor," Publisher David Compton said.
Addleman began his career as a sports reporter in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and New York. He served as group editor of three daily newspapers based in St. Mary's, Pennsylvania, before becoming group editor for Tioga Publishing Company's four newspapers in north central Pennsylvania. He most recently served as page designer in Paxton Media Group's creative division in Owensboro, Kentucky.
Laredo Morning Times
Selma Gonzalez has been promoted to city editor of the Laredo Morning Times.
"Gonzalez has been an asset to this newspaper ever since she joined us as an editorial assistant," LMT Managing Editor Nick Georgiou said.
Gonzalez has been with LMT since 2012. As city editor, Gonzalez will oversee news reporters, coordinate local day-to-day coverage and assist with special projects. Gonzalez graduated from Texas A&M International University in May 2012 with a bachelor's degree in English and a minor in dance.
BY CAROLINE LITTLE
PRESIDENT & CEO, NNA
The sky is always falling and newspapers are always dying.
For more than a decade, that has been a common and constant refrain. While working at washingtonpost.com, the Guardian US, and now, the Newspaper Association of America, I have been asked frequently about the state of the industry as people search for the worst.
Though newspaper media is enjoying the largest audiences ever as well as continuing to play a unique and critical role in our communities, there is one fact that always tends to be obscured or outright ignored – newspapers are still making money and newspapers remain a good investment.
A year ago at this time, John Henry and Jeff Bezos made high-profile acquisitions of The Boston Globe and The Washington Post, respectively, which confirmed that newspapers are viable investment options with the ability to grow. Earlier this month, The Washington Post announced record web traffic for July as well as hiring more than 60 people in the first seven months of the year.
A company hiring 60 people in seven months sounds like a healthy one to me.
This summer, the newspaper industry has seen a wave of spin-offs, with Tribune and Gannett both forming publishing-only companies. E.W. Scripps and Journal Communications spun their combined publications off into a new company, Journal Media Group. This is an exciting time for the newspaper industry as these companies will now devote their undivided attention to their publications.
However, as with the investments last year, these spin-offs have been spun into more gloom and doom for the industry. It is simply not accurate.
In fact, buried in the depths of one particular article that signaled the death of newspapers is this gem of a sentence: "Newspapers continue to generate cash and solid earnings."
First Amendment and open government advocates will address court access, social media usage and updates to public records laws when the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas hosts its state conference Sept. 12.
This year's conference, "A Road Map to Open Government," takes place at the Hilton Austin and includes speakers and attendees from throughout Texas.
"It's an opportunity for Texans who are devoted to open government - whether at the state Capitol, city hall or the courts – to come together to learn and exchange ideas," said Kelley Shannon, executive director of the FOI Foundation of Texas. "We adhere to the principle put forth by our nation's founders that the people's participation in democracy is paramount, and citizens need access to participate."
Nick West, longtime publisher of the Palacios Beacon, died July 27. He was 61. Born on Dec. 14, 1952, in Rushville, Indiana, West was a career newspaperman. One of his proudest chapters in life was working at the Beacon with his father, Bert, and son, Ryan.A member of the U.S. Marine Corps and a transplant to Palacios, West took over publisher and editor duties at the Beacon on July 4, 1981. Under his management, he transformed the Beacon into one of the premier small-town newspapers in the state, winning multiple awards from Texas Press Association, South Texas Press Association and Texas Gulf Coast Press Association. West had served as the intern chairman for South Texas Press Association. The internship program has been renamed the Nick West Internship in his honor.
Veteran newsman Bobby Glen "Bob" Runyon, 62, of Omaha, Texas, died July 15, in a Mount Pleasant hospital.Runyon was born Dec. 26, 1951, in Gainesville. He was editor of the Gladewater Mirror for many years, a Promise Keeper, a member of the Associated Press, Lions Club, David Elliott Masonic Lodge and Concord Missionary Baptist Church, Omaha, and was a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.Survivors include his wife, Saundra Runyon of Omaha; son and daughter-in-law, Bryan and Melissa Runyon of Omaha; daughter, Samantha Gray of Omaha; father and stepmother, Kenneth and Mildred Runyon of Plano; brothers, Michael Runyon of Vilseck, Germany, and David Runyon of North Carolina; sisters, Debbie Fellwock of Plano and Delores Anderson of Canton; and a number of other relatives.
Dozens of journalists gathered at Texas Christian University for smart-phone journalism workshops conducted July 31 to Aug. 1 and Aug. 14-15.
The former session was geared toward iPhones, while the latter was tailored for Androids. Each attendee was provided with a smartphone tripod, a useful tool in capturing stable footage.
Andrew Chavez, former associate director/digital initiatives with TCU's Texas Center for Community Journalism, presented instruction on applications that make reporting easier, such as FiLMiC and Camera+ that capture better videos and photos than preloaded applications that come with smartphones.
Attendees received pointers on gathering video content and editing video clips to create compelling story packages.
"From learning how to take better pictures to edit videos, the class taught me skills that I can use every day to provide complete coverage of Gillespie County," said Austin Eck, reporter/photographer for the Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post.
Cheyenne Bereuter, editor of The Stamford Star, said, "The small class size was perfect for interacting with other journalists, and the apps, camera tips, and the video capture and editing will help me bring new, exciting elements to our web presence."
"It was exciting to see how quickly the reporters and editors learned to put together their news packages," said Tommy Thomason, TCCJ director. "The training went beyond just the technology, too — that technology comes with a mindset — that newspapers are no longer just newsPAPERS. Instead, they are news sources for their community."
To view completed video packages, visit TCCJ's Facebook page.
Volunteers are needed to serve on the TPA Better Newspaper Contest Committee.
The transition to online judging of the contest has been successful, but questions and concerns need to be addressed earlier than in the past so that changes can be coded into the contest website.
Decisions need to be made well before the midwinter conference in January 2015.
Contest Committee Chair Sue Brown of the Pleasanton Express is calling for TPA members to volunteer to serve on the committee, and to provide input on contest-related matters without delay. Committee members will not need to travel long distances to meet: the committee will conduct business via listserver, with an occasional conference call as necessary. To volunteer, contact TPA President Randy Mankin or Contest Committee Chair Sue Brown for more information.
Newspapers are encouraged to run this advertisement in an effort to locate missing photos of Vietnam veterans. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation (VVMF) project "Faces Never Forgotten" is in need of help obtaining missing photos of fallen Vietnam veterans across Texas and the nation. Newspaper participation in this project will help VVMF locate the photos of all of the soldiers listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C.
The goal is to locate all missing pictures by Nov. 11, 2014. Your support with this nationwide effort is not only impactful for the families who lost loved ones, but also for the history involved with the documentation in remembering their dedication.
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TEXAS PRESS ASSOCIATION
305 S. Congress Ave
AUSTIN, TX 78704
PHONE: (512) 477-6755
FAX: (512) 477-6759