Columns

Food for the journalism soul in crazy times

We live in truly crazy and sophomoric times.
I don’t care who you voted for in the last presidential election; I don’t care where you fall on the political spectrum. At the national level, it’s become a big mudslinging match with all sides involved, including some of our Beltway news media brethren.
All too often, people have allowed their ideology to overwhelm their intellect – and their tempers to run roughshod over reason and accommodation.
And if you’re like me, you’ve noticed some of that mud has splattered on us hometown newspapers.

AG opinion says regular meetings not required for general law city

Q: Our general law city council does not meet on a weekly or even a monthly basis. So I asked the city secretary how bills get approved for payment. I was told that each councilperson comes to city hall and looks through the bills and gives the okay. I think the council should meet, as a body, in an open meeting, even if it’s just to approve the bills. I wrote a letter to the city administrator and to the mayor regarding this trend of not meeting. What do you think about it?

Executive session must be held in a location accessible to public

Q: If a city council convenes in open session at city hall and then adjourns, travels to a remote, private, controlled-access site, then conducts an executive session to interview city manager applicants, does the open meetings law allow that?
A: Let’s confine our search for an answer to the handy Texas Attorney General’s 2016 Open Meetings Handbook. The following language appears on page 40 under the header and paragraph, VIII. Open Sessions, A. Conducting the Meeting: 

Need a lift? Spend career day with third graders

A lot of us love newspapering because of all the challenges the business presents us each day. But from time to time, all those challenges can have us feeling really down in the dumps.
We continue to grapple with how we communicate our journalism and advertising to an increasingly diffused and finicky market. Revenue challenges mean we have to work even harder in an attempt to deliver more with tighter budgets. And we always seem to hear from those who are all too quick to hate us for what we do or don’t do.

Learning, loving the newspaper business

Do you remember your first real assignment? I do.
It was my first day as a summer intern at the old San Antonio Light. Up walked Bend Segal, a gruff, seasoned assistant city editor who had weaned many a cub reporter. He handed me a six-page press release. “Rewrite it,” he said. “And let me know when you’re done.”
Seems like it took me forever to rewrite that press release. But I finally managed to finish it, reducing the six-page release to three. I handed the copy to Ben, who took his red marker and quickly circled a typo and handed it back to me, saying, “Do it again.”