We all deserve a break...

If the mail service has improved, you should be reading this column before heading out to the 141st Texas Press Association Convention in Denton June 10-12.

You are coming, aren’t you?

After all you’ve been through this past year you really deserve a convention and some newspaper fellowship! And I promise this won’t be one of those Chicken Little conventions where all we talk about is how the “sky is falling.”

I don’t know about you, but I need some newspaper spiritual uplifting and some fun. I want people to tell me how important our industry is and how privileged we are to get to record our community’s history and champion causes – big and small.

Sure, it’s long hours and low pay, but we chose this line of work. Work that allows us to go places and do things no one else gets to go and do. That’s pretty cool.

When my son Josh was little he didn’t understand why all the kids didn’t get to stand on the sideline of a football game or sit in the press box. It was normal for him.

So, with a vaccine in place – I hope you all got your shot - we are ready to move forward and offer you some great programs and activities at the convention. One major difference this year you have already noticed from the mailouts is we are meeting in the summer instead of in January.

We plan to still have just one convention per year, but we hope to – with membership approval – shift our convention back to the summer. I hope you will agree with this decision. We think it will benefit everyone in the long run.

I hope you will come early and join us on the links for the Robert Burns Memorial Golf Tournament held Thursday morning. You don’t even have to play good golf to participate. Ask the guys who have to play with me.

I’m excited about the roundtable discussion on “Improving the value of your paper.” And who couldn’t use that these days? I sure could.

As always, the convention will feature the popular trade show and silent auction, which will begin Thursday evening and run through Friday morning. You should find products and services of value to you and your newspaper.

Please stop by the booths and thank the vendors for their support of TPA! Without them we would have no trade show and no free great stuff to take back to our staff.

Our silent auction benefits the Texas Newspaper Foundation, which, in turn, benefits Texas newspapers. Be sure to bid early and often. And don’t forget to bid on the “Robert Burns Bag of Air,” which has a whole crazy story all its on – one I’ll be happy to share with you over a cocktail or two.

As you make the rounds, take time to introduce yourself to people you may not know. Shaking hands with a stranger could be worth $50 to you, so don’t be shy. That’s right, you may actually get paid for saying “how do you do?”

With just one convention, we’ve done some shoehorning to accommodate all the great programs that previously took two conventions to cover. For example, our Friday luncheon with guest speaker Grant Moise, publisher of The Dallas Morning News, will pay tribute to this year’s crop of Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame honorees:  Morris Roberts of the  Victoria Advocate; Charles Moser of the Brenham Banner-Press; Tommy Thomason from the Texas Center for Community Journalism, and Don Richards, a media attorney and former newspaper publisher. Please join me in recognizing this year’s slate of distinguished men from our newspaper industry.    

Friday afternoon will be packed with general sessions such as Don Richards, Legal Q&A; Max Kabat, Ideas from a first-time newspaper owner; Ken Cooke, Adding Video Online for New Revenue; Jack Stallard, Writing Sports when no one is competing; Bill Crist, Lessons Learned during a Pandemic; Jason Chlapek, Multiple Schools, One Sports Writer; and exploring the value of Census data.

Other sessions I think you will find helpful will come on Saturday as Bill Patterson gives us a Legislative Update, followed by yours truly discussing Political Consultants and Unbiased Reporting, followed by Ron Speechly’s take on the State of Obituaries in print. Finally, Kay Ellington and Barbara Brannon will share information about the “Texas Treasure Awards.” My Gladewater newspaper received the Texas Treasure Award many years ago and we are very proud to be the oldest business in our town.

On Saturday, we will present the Golden 50 award to those who have survived 50 years in this business and we will present the Frank W. Mayborn Award for Community Leadership to one very deserving person. Shhhhh… I can’t tell you who now. You’ll have to show up to find out who it is.

Finally, we will have what you all have been waiting for. It’s been 18 months since we had our Better Newspaper Contest Awards Brunch, so the food is sure to be tastier and the awards are sure to be even more deserving.

Maybe if I’m lucky someone won’t show up and I’ll get to accept an award for them. That’s one way of winning an award.

So, here’s to a great summer convention – a belated convention we all need and deserve. Thank you for being a part of the TPA Family. I look forward to seeing you in Denton.