media organization

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

In all honesty, I have not been at the Texan a very long time. I stayed away for almost two years before I finally made my way into the basement. But now, I’ve made it to the end of the line, and I have no regrets about working here. 

The Texan allowed me to grow in so many ways. Reporting made me more aware of the world we live in and sharpened my thinking and writing. Editing — and working as news editor, especially — taught me so much about being a leader and working well with others.

The Texan is a special place where students — a good number of them studying subjects other than journalism — give up their free time every week and work together to run a media organization. And that’s just it: The Texan works because it is by students and for students.

My time here has not always been an easy one; there was a point when I never wanted to come back. But the best part of all of it will always be the people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working with. When I started, there was Bobby, who first hired me and later became a close friend. Next, I met Christine, whom I quickly developed a crush on. We’ve been together for more than a year, and she still makes me smile.

There are so many people I can’t help but mention. Thank you, Amanda, for always having my back and doing the podcast. Jordan, thank you for bringing me back to the Texan, and good luck being the boss. Sam, thank you for always having a good attitude, even in bad situations. Pu, you were the world’s coolest boss. Elisabeth, thank you for running the show, even when you didn’t want to. Brett and Omar, it has been a blast. I will miss putting the paper together with you guys.

Andy and Toni, thank you for all the fun nights. Julia, Madlin and Nicole, never stop learning and growing. Alex, Elly, Jackie and Natalie, you are all incredibly talented reporters. It was truly a privilege to work with you all this semester. You guys have set the bar high for the department going forward. Keep it up in whatever you do next.

Finally, thank you, R.G., for sharing your wisdom with us this semester.

The Texan’s future is full of uncertainties. College newspapers across the country have had to make some difficult choices. What I have come to realize is that the Texan isn’t really a college newspaper or even a media organization. Rather, the Texan is a place for students to grow, whether that be as reporter, writer, editor, designer, artist, photographer, videographer, leader or just as a person in general. 

That doesn’t mean the Texan can’t produce high quality journalism — because it can and does. But here, students get to learn from their own mistakes and take responsibility for their own actions in a way that can’t be replicated in a classroom. Not that the journalism school isn’t valuable, but the Texan is too. As long as the Texan is student-run, it will be able to teach its students in the best way possible.

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Editor’s note: Per the TSM election code Section 7.45B, Daily Texan editor-in-chief candidates have the opportunity to publish two columns during their campaigns. The candidates were asked to write one column on the topic specified below and another on a topic of their choice. The columns had to be between 580-620 words. The candidates were responsible for writing their own headlines. For their first columns below, the candidates were asked to answer the following questions: The Daily Texan and Texas Student Media confront financial challenges due in part to major, uncharted changes in the publishing industry with the growth of the web. How should The Daily Texan address the changing habits of its readers? How will you, as editor-in-chief, ensure it remains a relevant platform for student voices?  

I will be honest — that feels strange to say. But it is true. Newspapers do not exist anymore in the traditional sense. Instead, The Daily Texan is a media organization that publishes on multiple platforms. We publish in print and we publish online. We write articles and we shoot video. We record podcasts and we review movies. We investigate corruption and we blog about Ryan Gosling. 

If we are to stay relevant to students and if we are to continue expressing the voices of the entire student body, then we must treat our digital and print enterprises with equal dedication. We must remember that we are living in the year 2013, a time when the best media organizations have newspapers and websites that tango together and not alone.

It would be foolish to treat our website as a supplement to the print product. We must treat the two as equals. At the same time, it would be equally foolish to reduce our respect and regard for the print product. The paper represents our image, our credibility and our history. 

If we are to remain relevant to students then we have to keep our print product a priority. Some would argue that our print production is a diseased appendage that we need to sever off before it destroys the rest of our enterprise. But reductions in print may be detrimental to our image, credibility and advertising revenue. The print product is crucial to our future.

At the same time, we must also adapt to new technologies. These are tools students use and tools older generations are rapidly picking up as well. We cannot treat the website as a simple dumping site for the content we run in print. Reporters need to tweet first and then write. Articles need to have multiple components and mediums of storytelling. Written words are not enough by themselves.

We cannot dawdle our thumbs and hope readers will come flocking to us. We have to bring The Daily Texan to students. This means increasing our online presence, which translates to invading Twitter feeds. This means becoming more digital-savvy and reconsidering how we write our website’s headlines in order to take full advantage of search engine optimization (SEO). This means doing more with the multimedia tools that are available to us. This means more collaboration with our sisters and brothers in Texas Student Media.

We also have to remember that The Daily Texan is for students. We must stay as student-focused and student-oriented as possible. This is something we cannot achieve alone. With a staff that is composed of less than 200 people, The Daily Texan is trying the impossible task of representing and covering a student body of more than 50,000. The Daily Texan and its editor must focus on outreach and reaching more student groups and student leaders. We cannot remain in our basement-office forever. Not only is the lack of sunlight detrimental to our health, but a lack of correspondence to students outside The Daily Texan is harmful to our mission to maintain a medium for student voices.

The Daily Texan is a 113-year-old media organization that reports on student issues and concerns at this University unlike any other enterprise. We are a media organization that takes students seriously. This is student news and student opinion produced by students for students.

But The Daily Texan is not a newspaper. We are something much better. And if we are going to remain relevant to the student body, then we will have to remember this going forward.

Blanchard is a journalism sophomore from Pearland, Texas.