editor-in-chief

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.

Alison Stoos and Chris Gilman

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

The technological-biological singularity. Terraforming Mars. Hip-hop hologram concerts. Steak dinners the size of a pill. Pill dinners the size of a steak. 3-D printed children. Cars that can fly. Airplanes that can’t. A coup de grâce to the heart of print media.

What do these all have in common? They are the future, and it’s vital that each of Texas Student Media’s entities knows that they are coming fast (especially the last one).

My tenure serving as the Texas Travesty Editor-in-Chief is coming to an end, and after a year of making a concerted effort to bring back the Travesty’s prominence on campus, I feel confident saying we owe much of our success to our online initiatives, and that the future of TSM will rely on how effective its entities can be digitally.

To make college students pay attention to any student-generated media, you need to be brief, relevant, free of charge, and make the content as easy as possible to access. Doing this online is by far the most efficient way of hitting these, and the most cost-effective way of making each TSM entity the best it can be. 

Fortunately for the Travesty, humor happens to be the greasiest grease there is to get the social media wheels rolling on a year-round basis. The unprecedented growth we’ve seen this year was made possible by transforming our social media pages into constant streams of our articles, one-liners, listicles, event promotions, Bill Powers pictures, Longhorns of the Week, etc. In less time than it typically takes for a child to develop in the womb, we were able to outdo almost every other college humor publication in terms of page numbers and user engagement. Suck it, Harvard Lampoon. Suck it. 

Our RotMan 2015 campaign’s videos and social media presence (including Tinder and Grindr) were the biggest factors in winning 59 percent of the vote. By the end of the campaign, RotMan was the subject of something like 12 out of 15 of the top YikYak posts every day. In this day and age, if your digital presence is strong and likable enough you won’t even need to leave your home to win an election.

The Daily Texan, TSTV, Cactus, and KVRX have each had a fantastic year as well, and are home to some of the most talented and creative people at UT. A common complaint I hear across the board is that each entity is missing is a proper, versatile website that can hold a candle to the content TSM publishes. The current Travesty website is like Dale Earnhardt Jr. racing the Indy 500 in a 1991 Honda Odyssey, or Vin Diesel chasing a bad guy in a 1991 Honda Odyssey, or Gordon Ramsay cooking a beef wellington in a 1991 Honda Odyssey. We all deserve better, and I’m glad it’s become a priority for TSM to look into remedying. 

But we can’t wait for new websites. We have the resources to engage the student body readily available to us. If we don’t all get creative with the many free platforms that the majority of UT students are already using (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.), we’re going to fall behind, and fast.

I love holding and smelling and gently caressing physical copies of the Travesty in my boy hands. There will always be an irreplaceable charm to owning your work as a tangible object that you can throw at someone looking at you the wrong way. It’s a beautiful thing, and we’re lucky to be able to do it. I hope TSM finds a way to continue printing into the distant future until all colleges become obsolete after the singularity. But there’s no guarantee, and every year inches closer to the possibility of being totally print-less.

We have to be honest here. On an industry level, print media has been dead. The Travesty is an extended open casket funeral. Have you ever seen Weekend at Bernie’s? We are doing to print media what Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman did to the titular Bernie’s deceased corpse, and while the Texas Travesty is having a great time doing so, we have to utilize every digital resource we have before rigor mortis sets in.

Gilman is a radio-television-film senior from Scotch Plains, New Jersey. He is the current editor-in-chief of the Texas Travesty.

Photo Credit: Daily Texan Staff

Thanks for watching our live stream of the SG debate. For more coverage,  Click here to view our interactive database of all campus-wide candidates and their platforms and follow us on Twitter for the latest news.

Tonight at 7:00 p.m., watch as Daily Texan editor-in-chief Riley Brands moderates a debate between the Executive Alliance and University-Wide Representative candidates for the 2015 Student Government elections. For live-tweets from the debate, follow news editor Julia Brouillette at @juliakbrou

Want to get caught up on each candidate? Click here to view our interactive database of all campus-wide candidates and their platforms.

Voting will take place on Wednesday and Thursday at utexasvote.org.

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 second column focuses on a topic of the candidate’s choosing relating to their campaign. Candidates wrote their own headlines. Only light typographical corrections were made. For more information on the candidates, please visit our candidate database here.

 

When I first tried out for The Daily Texan, I did not feel confident in being hired because my personal beliefs did not match the viewpoint often expressed in the Texan in past years. 

Soon after I was hired, I wrote a column about the difficulty in starting a national dialogue about race in the wake of rioting in Ferguson, Missouri.  It was a challenging column because there are many people who know the issue more personally and more acutely than I do. 

Although called upon to express my opinion, I worried that it would not be valued because my personal experience is less direct. Whether on Ferguson or any other burning issue, I believe many students on campus feel the same way  --  our opinions on the important issues of our day and on the issues most important to our campus aren’t worthy of expression in our own student newspaper.  That’s why I’m running for editor-in-chief. If I am elected, I will do everything in my power to build an inclusive opinion page that opens the door to the broad diversity of opinion on campus.  I want you to be heard.

Inclusiveness means opening the editorial door to all thoughtfully considered, well-expressed opinions. We don’t have to look too far in the news to find things that will affect people on campus. And UT students ought to be heard on those issues. We don’t share a two-dimensional campus either. There are more opinions than those that come only from the right or from the left.  Those opinions deserve to be expressed too. I will fight to make sure that all legitimate opinions get a fair hearing without entertaining expressions of hate or uninformed vitriol.

To me, inclusiveness means growth.  A vibrant opinion page encourages the expression of different and competing viewpoints. Too often editorial pages are slanted and biased, and the Texan has been guilty of that in the past. On my watch, the opinion page will be an open forum where ideas can be debated, the diversity of campus opinion can be expressed, and consensus opinions can be challenged and defended.

There are people on campus who don’t want the opinion page to be more inclusive. They’re satisfied in “safe” expressions of opinion, preferably their own.  But we are better than that. 

We shouldn’t be afraid of ideas. Our ideas are what make The Daily Texan matter. The free expression of those ideas opens our understanding of ourselves, our community and our world. That is worth protecting and celebrating.

My editorship will be dedicated to ensuring all the diversity of opinion on our campus can be expressed in our student newspaper, because it’s our newspaper. My opinion page will be inclusive.  It will empower students to thoughtfully express their own beliefs, to challenge other beliefs, and to grow.  Our University exists for all of us, and so must The Daily Texan. 

As editor-in-chief, I will be your advocate, fight for your voice, and make this your Daily Texan.

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

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.

TSM Board member Heidi Toprac listens at Thursday’s TSM election committee meeting. Toprac recommended rescinding the Board’s previous qualifications decision.
Photo Credit: Andy Nguyen | Daily Texan Staff

Three members of the Texas Student Media election committee recommended the board “roll back” a previous, unanimous decision to amend requirements for The Daily Texan editor-in-chief applicants in a meeting Thursday.

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 — postponed certifying candidates in a meeting last week after questions arose about the qualifications each candidate needed to meet.

“It did not occur to me that we could have a situation where we have many candidates, some of whom do and some of whom do not meet the requirements,” board member Heidi Toprac, a finance senior lecturer, said.

The Board voted to amend qualifications for the editor-in-chief position at their November meeting. Candidates are now required to have completed at least one semester as a permanent staff member in opinion to be certified, according to the TSM Handbook. Three students applied to run for editor-in-chief, only two of whom met all the requirements.

Board members Toprac, Robert Quigley and Adam Alloy expressed concern over the decision in the meeting Thursday, saying the Board may have unintentionally narrowed the applicant pool. 

The handbook states the Board may certify a candidate by waiving requirements only if no qualified candidate for editor-in-chief applies by the deadline. Toprac recommended the committee request the Board “strike out” the first clause of the requirement, which would make it possible for any candidate to be certified, regardless of whether any qualified candidates applied. 

The three candidates — David Davis, Claire Smith and David Maly — will discuss their applications with the Board at a meeting Friday. Davis said he thinks the qualifications should be upheld.

“Why have qualifications if you’re just going to waive them,” Davis said. 

Board vice president Arjun Mocherla said waiving the requirements universally might be unfair to other Texan employees, who may have wanted to apply for editor-in-chief, but did not meet the requirements. 

“If we decide that we’re going to waive say the opinion requirement or something like that, I feel like every person at The Daily Texan could have filed at that point,” Mocherla said.

Toprac said she thinks November’s decision did not reflect the intention of the board, which was to increase the number of applicants.

“We never contemplated a circumstance that has now arisen,” Toprac said. 

Candidates will not be able to begin campaigning until they are certified. The deadline for certification is Tuesday. 

TSM election committee members Arjun Mocherla, Adam Alloy and Heidi Toprac discuss election issues in the Hearst Student Media Building.

Photo Credit: Andy Nguyen | Daily Texan Staff

If history’s greatest lesson is never to make the same mistake twice, TSM Board members Heidi Toprac, Robert Quigley and Adam Alloy are its worst students. 

At a meeting of the Texas Student Media election committee Thursday, these three dunderheads voted to recommend to the full board, which is meeting Friday to certify candidates for the upcoming Daily Texan editor-in-chief election, a “rolling back” of a previous unanimous decision by the board to change certain parts of the qualification process for the position. Their justification was to open up the position to a broader pool of applicants on the assumption that certain years would see no applicants (a situation that has not occurred any time in recent memory).

If the full board votes to approve this recommendation, it could allow for the certification of a candidate whose victory in the upcoming campus-wide elections could spell disaster for the Texan and TSM as a whole.

Over the course of the fall semester, the board voted to amend qualifications for both the managing editor and editor-in-chief position, respectively, of this paper. As a Texan reporter caught in a recording of the November meeting, the members of the board, including Toprac, Quigley and Alloy, voted unanimously to accept changes which would force the board to reject any candidates who did not meet all the qualifications, unless no fully qualified candidates came forward.

This year, candidates have come forward who meet all the qualifications as listed on the application. Another, David Maly, does not. Specifically, he lacks the editorial (opinion-writing) requirement that is absolutely crucial to the discharge of this job. Maly, who left the Texan two years ago, has since then maligned or threatened to malign numerous members of the organization, including last year’s board president, Dave Player, and has consistently brought negative attention to this organization.

Now, Maly dangerously wants to lead the largest entity within that organization.

Admittedly, the current board, which unfortunately suffers from high turnover, may not understand the unabridged version of the drama Maly has caused. 

At the very least, however, they do understand his obstreperousness and irascibility. They have seen him attack current board President Mary Dunn and request her removal for the flimsiest of reasons, mostly revolving around his failure to be certified for the editor-in-chief position last year, when he was also deemed ineligible for failing to meet certain requirements. They have seen him childishly stamp his feet when he didn’t get his way and go on a bad-mouthing rampage against the organization. Finally, they have seen him drag this organization, which has long protected the student voice on this campus, through more than a year of time-consuming administrative headaches.

Maly has sought multiple remedies from the board, including the already-mentioned removal of Dunn as well as a special election when the board rightfully denied his application to run for editor-in-chief last year. He is convinced that the board is corrupt, but the board has previously been cleared of all wrongdoing. 

Two fundamental questions remain, then. Why does a student so hell-bent on crippling this organization want to lead its flagship publication? And why are certain board members allowing themselves to be bullied into certifying an unqualified candidate?

Luckily, no damage has been done yet. The full board will have a chance to hash out its disagreements when it meets Friday at 1 p.m. in HSM 3.302. 

We urge any member of the UT community with concerns about this situation to attend the meeting or to write to the board, which may be contacted through TSM Operations Manager Frank Serpas atserpas@austin.utexas.edu.   

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.

John Schwartz, UT alumnus and national correspondent for The New York Times, gives a talk at Belo Center for New Media on Monday. Schwartz believes the survival of journalism depends on journalists’ ability to adapt to the digital revolution.

Photo Credit: Michelle Toussaint | Daily Texan Staff

The field of journalism is not dwindling because of the digitalization of media but is instead adapting and thriving, according to John Schwartz, UT alumnus and national correspondent for The New York Times.

Schwartz spoke at Belo Center for New Media on Monday about the current state of journalism and the “chaos” of the changes that accompany the consistent introduction of new technology.

According to Schwartz, the change is demonstrated by which New York Times story attracted the most readers this year: “How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk,” which was not a typical “narrative” story but an interactive graphic. Schwartz also said he has become a part of the digital transition by creating web features, writing blog posts and tweeting out quotes.

“All of it was journalism,” said Schwartz, who served as editor-in-chief of The Daily Texan in the 1980s.  “All of it deepens the story. There’s a mini renaissance going on. I’m the generation that has to give way to the people who know how to do data visualization, and that’s fine. … It’s up to us to reinvent journalism.”

The survival of journalism depends on journalists’ ability to adapt, Schwartz said. Glenn Frankel, journalism professor and director of the school of journalism, who introduced Schwartz at the lecture, said it is a time of transition for journalism, and those involved must learn to change their methods accordingly.

“This is such a dynamic, fluid time,” Frankel said. “The digital revolution has changed almost everything about journalism. … It’s both an exciting and scary time. … I do think that young journalists — all journalists — need to develop a curious and inquisitive sensibility about the new media and about how to use the new media to tell stories.”

Sidrah Syed, communication science and disorders freshman who attended Schwartz’s lecture, said she can understand how the change within the field of journalism can fill the public demand for accessible information.

“I was editor-in-chief [of the school newspaper] in high school, so stuff in print is valuable to me,” Syed said. “I think it’s becoming a lost art, but I also think it’s great that we’re using so many new techniques and technologies to get stories across to people, because that’s what I think news is supposed to be — tangible to everyone.”