GIDDINGS – Texas Gulf Coast Press Association members enjoyed programs featuring state officials as well as noted journalists during their 83rd convention at Tejas Camp & Retreat near Giddings. Speakers included a trio of Texas A&M graduates and college buddies, former Gov. Rick Perry, Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp and Fayette County Judge Joe Weber; and Concordia University Professor Dr. Mike Wallace, a former journalism teacher at La Grange High School. Perry, Sharp and Weber reunited for a discussion about media, politics and other topics — including some old stories, according to coverage by Jeff Wick in The Fayette County Record. When asked about his future plans for public office, Perry, a former presidential candidate who served as secretary of energy during the Trump administration, said that time had passed. “But mostly the trio talked about the media – the polarizing effect cable television news has had on the nation, and how much they respect small rural newspapers,” Wick wrote. “Corporate entities are interested more in the bottom line than they are about the truth,” Perry told the attendees. “Small-town rural newspapers are the last bastion of integrity (in the media). What you do is important to the future of the republic. Thank you for what you are doing. Your work has continued to give me hope for the future of our state.” In his program, Wallace spoke about the current state of journalism and gave some history and updates about his uncle, famed broadcaster Dan Rather. In addition, TGCPA members discussed topics such as COVID coverage and revenue ideas. Among the entertainment and banquet activities was the annual hospitality event called “Chad’s Pad” in memory of Chad Ferguson. Sweepstakes winners in the contest awards announced at the highlight event of the convention were the Flatonia Argus in Division I, the Port Aransas South Jerry in Division II and the Polk County Enterprise in Division III. Full contest results are on the TGCPA website, txgulfcoastpress.com. New officers include Tania French, Something More Media, chairman; Becky Weise, The Fayette County Record, president; Kelli Barnes, Polk County Enterprise, first vice president; Paul Prause, The Flatonia Argus, second vice president; Nonnie Barton, The Fayette County Record, treasurer; Sonya Timpone, The Cuero Record, secretary; and Mary Judson, Port Aransas South Jetty, assistant to the president. Committee chairmen include Tania French, site selection; Ashley Kontnier, sponsorship; Jeff Wick, internship; and Sue Brown, scholarship. Board members are Ashley Kontnier, Something More Media; Ramona Ferguson, The Banner Press Newspaper, Columbus; Ryan West, Palacious Beacon; Shannon Crabtree, El Campo Leader-News; Sonya Timpone, The Cuero Record; and Melanie Berger, The Flatonia Argus. The next convention is planned for May 12 - 14, 2022, in Sugarland.