Shown at the new location for the Texas Center for Community Journalism at Tarleton State University are (from left) Founding Director Tommy Thomason, now retired from teaching at TCU; the center’s new directors Kathryn Jones and Dan Malone, both professors at Tarleton; and TPA Executive Director Mike Hodges.
STEPHENVILLE — Support for almost 400 small-town newspapers in Texas now comes from Tarleton State University, the new home of the Texas Center for Community Journalism, which was formerly housed at TCU.
The center’s new co-directors are Tarleton faculty members Dan Malone and Kathryn Jones.
The change was announced at a reception Feb. 20 in the communication studies newsroom in the O.A. Grant Building in Stephenville.
“We are excited to welcome the Texas Center for Community Journalism to Tarleton,” said Dr. Eric Morrow, dean of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts. “The center will connect our students with journalism professionals throughout the state and open career opportunities for them.”
“The Texas Center for Community Journalism will bring recognition to the university as a statewide supporter of journalism in small towns and rural communities,” Dr. Christopher Gearhart, department head of communication studies at Tarleton, said. “These organizations have played an important role in these communities for decades and are grossly underserved as compared to large metropolitan news outlets.
“Many of our journalism graduates go on to community news organizations, so the center will be there to continue to support them in their careers.”
The TCCJ opened in Fort Worth more than a decade ago and “really flourished at TCU under the direction of Tommy Thomason,” said Jones, a former editor of the Glen Rose Reporter and currently a journalism instructor at Tarleton. “Tommy was getting ready to retire and asked if we’d be interested in taking over.”
“Tarleton is excited about this,” said Malone, also a newspaper veteran and assistant professor of journalism. “It’s a great fit for our program because most of our students come from areas served by community newspapers and that’s where most of them start their careers.”
The new co-directors attended the Texas Press Association Convention and Trade Show in January. Input from TPA members at the TCCJ booth helped define ideas for upcoming workshops. “Folks told us they wanted training on helping younger reporters foster closer connections with the communities they cover; training on using public records, Census data and other records to better tell local stories; and, of course, how to make more money,” Jones said in a Facebook post.
The first workshop covering reporting skills will be offered on the Tarleton campus on May 1. A summer revenue conference is planned June 11 at the Hangar Hotel in Fredericksburg.
Other anticipated workshop topics vary from photography and page design to website promotion.
Tarleton University, a founding member of The Texas A&M University System, offers degree programs to more than 13,000 students at Stephenville, Fort Worth, Waco, Midlothian, the RELLIS Academic Alliance in Bryan, and online. The institution emphases real-world learning experiences that address societal needs while maintaining its core values of tradition, integrity, civility, excellence, leadership and service.