Claire Smith

See you this summer!

This blog is going on hiatus for a few weeks, but it will be back in early June under the leadership of incoming editor-in-chief Claire Smith.

In the meantime, feel free to peruse our previous content or keep up with our ongoing news coverage!

Brands is editor-in-chief.

Editor’s Note: This year two candidates are running for editor-in-chief of The Daily Texan in the campus-wide elections. The editor of the Texan, elected by the entire student body, has three primary responsibilities: 1) to oversee the paper’s opinion content, 2) to set policy for the paper and 3) to serve as the paper’s representative to the campus community and beyond. Per the TSM election code, the candidates, David Davis Jr. and Claire Smith, have been asked to write two 500-word columns, the first on the following question: What role should fundraising play in the Texan’s future? And what risks does the paper run by actively pursuing such alternative sources of revenue? Candidates wrote their own headlines. Only light typographical corrections were made. For more information on the candidates, please visit our candidate database here.

Much like other print news organizations, the Internet revolution has created new challenges for the future of The Daily Texan. Last year, President Powers’ office promised Texas Student Media up to of $250,000 annually for the next three years to buffer TSM’s recent financial aches and provided a written guarantee of imminent financial support two weeks ago. But that may not be enough. The next editor-in-chief should be expected to pursue fundraising opportunities to ensure the Texan’s future within and beyond the next three years but take care to avoid risks to the Texan’s integrity as a news agency.

In lieu of falling advertising revenues, fundraising has played a modest yet vital role in the Texan’s ability to stay in print. The recently-formed alumni group, Friends of the Texan, has taken an active role in the Texan’s finances in the past, but those efforts do not altogether remedy our empty wallet. As a reflection of this, in 2013, TSM discussed changing the Texan’s traditional five-day printing schedule to four days a week, and last year, discussed reducing the print schedule to once a week. The Daily Texan is struggling just to maintain the “daily” in its name. For the immediate future, independent fundraising for the Texan is a necessity.

I am excited to think outside the box to find healthy ways to finance the Texan, but it is important for the editor-in-chief to work with the TSM Board to pinpoint appropriate fundraising endeavors. Fundraising for media entities inevitably raises questions of propriety, but under my leadership, fundraising would never come at the cost of the paper’s or the staff’s integrity.

I believe the Texas Tribune could serve as a model of fundraising that does not infringe upon the paper’s independence. The Tribune collected $750,000 in grant money in 2009 alone. In 2011, the Tribune was granted $975,000 for a project with the nonprofit news organization the Bay Citizen from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a private, non-profit foundation that promotes journalism and media innovation. Fundraising opportunities can co-exist with journalism ethics and the Texan’s staunch standards for fair and factual reporting. But I understand the path to these grants may not be easy. The University of Texas’ large endowment may complicate assuring grant-giving foundations of our need. That should not stop the Texan from pursuing external funding. The University of Texas is a flagship institution; it deserves a flagship student newspaper. With the administration’s support for the next three years, I will work with TSM to find viable, appropriate fundraising options to put the Texan’s long-term health on track despite the changing landscape of print media.

While keeping the Texan in print five days a week will be my chief goal, I am not willing to do so at any cost and certainly not at the expense of the Texan’s independence. During my tenure as editor-in-chief, independent fundraising would be doggedly sought but will never impair editorial discretion.

Smith is a history and humanities junior from Austin. She is running for editor-in-chief of The Daily Texan. Follow Smith on Twitter @claireseysmith.

Members of the TSM Board discuss the upcoming election for editor-in-chief of The Daily Texan.
Photo Credit: Chris Foxx | Daily Texan Staff

The Texas Student Media Board certified David Davis Jr. and Claire Smith to run for editor-in-chief of The Daily Texan in a contentions meeting Friday.

A third applicant, David Maly, was not certified because he did not meet the qualifications specified in the Texas Student Media (TSM) handbook. Maly worked for the Texan for three semesters as a reporter and copy editor, but has not worked for The Daily Texan since January 2013. 

The handbook specifies that each candidate must have experience of one semester as a permanent staff member in The Daily Texan’s opinion section as well as experience of one semester in another section. In the past, these qualifications have been waived by a two-thirds vote from the TSM Board. 

The TSM Board, which manages five student-produced media properties — Cactus Yearbook, Texas Travesty, Texas Student TV, KVRX 91.7 FM and The Daily Texan — voted to amend the handbook in November, altering the application requirements for editor-in-chief. Candidates who do not meet all of the requirements can now only be certified if no other fully qualified candidates have applied. 

In a meeting Thursday, board members — finance senior lecturer Heidi Toprac, journalism senior lecturer Robert Quigley and Adam Alloy — recommended the Board “roll back” November’s decision. 

At the meeting, Maly presented written concerns to the Board regarding November’s decision to amend the requirements for certification. Maly said that although he had not served as a permanent staffer in the opinion department, he had significant work in opinion departments at other publications, including The Horn and The Odyssey. Maly serves as editor-in-chief at both publications, according to a resume he submitted as part of his application.

Board President Mary Dunn said she thought the Board was correct to amend the certification process.

The debate between Board members about maintaining or discarding the November changes was, at times, contentious.

“I want to be very clear on this. I was aiming for clarity. I was aiming for consistency. I was not out on a personal vendetta against anyone,” Dunn said.

Five Board members, including Toprac, voted to uphold the decision. Only Quigley voted in opposition. 

“Our intent was to not add a new roadblock [to being certified],” Quigley said. “I don’t deny that, as a Board, we made a mistake in the fall — it was a ‘dunderheaded’ mistake … I think the solution should be that we to try to fix the mistake.” 

Board Vice President Arjun Mocherla said he didn’t see the merit in having qualifications if those qualifications could be easily waived.

“I think the qualifications of one semester in opinion and one semester not in opinion — at least from my outside perspective — seem fairly reasonable,” Mocherla said.  

Smith and Davis will begin campaigning Wednesday.

Three UT students apply for Daily Texan editor-in-chief position

Three UT students have applied to run for editor-in-chief of The Daily Texan. On Wednesday, Texas Student Media released the applicants' names and applications, including letters of recommendation and statements to the Board. The TSM Board must certify each applicant before the applicant's name can go on the ballot.

The three applicants are David Davis, French and international relations and global studies senior, David Maly, journalism and economics senior, and Claire Smith, history and humanities junior. The editor-in-chief position is a year-long role. 

Certified candidates are required to have completed at least one semester as a permanent staff member in opinion, according to the TSM Handbook. Smith and Davis are the only applicants who meet this requirement. 

Davis spent three of his five semesters at the Texan in opinion as a columnist and associate editor and currently serves as associate news editor. Maly spent one semester as a copy editor and two semesters in the news department as a reporter, but he has not worked for The Daily Texan since 2013. Smith joined the Texan for the first time in the fall as an opinion columnist and has since been promoted to senior columnist. She will begin working as a copy editor Thursday.

In his letter to the board, Maly said he would work to make the Texan's opinion section less inclusive.

"Along with content, as Daily Texan editor a priority for me would be to make the Opinion Section less inclusive," Maly said. "Furthermore, I would like to make the section less inclusive in terms of staff and coverage."

All three candidates also acknowledged TSM's ongoing financial woes.

Board-certified candidates will run in the campuswide election on March 4 and 5. If necessary, a runoff election will be held March 11 and 12.  

Davis, Maly and Smith will discuss their applications with the Board at Friday’s meeting. To read the candidates' application documents, click here.

Senior Associate Editor Noah M. Horwitz discusses Legislative updates pertaining to UT, as well as campus news with guests Chuck Matula and Claire Smith, two opinion columnists.