Charles Dickens had it right more than a century and a half ago: These are the best of times…and the worst of times, for community journalism.
As metro dailies hemorrhage profits and lay off staffers, they look at community papers and try to emulate the hyper-local emphasis and the ability to target advertising to the right consumers. But no longer do community newspapers hold the franchise on news – going into competition with a community newspaper no longer means establishing another newspaper to go up against the established paper. Anyone who can put up a Web site becomes a publisher and can attract the readership of long-established community papers.
Enter the Texas Center for Community Journalism. We’re all about community newspapers in Texas. Our mission is to provide support and training for community newspapers – on our Web site, in our workshops and seminars, and even one-on-one in your newsroom.
We want to provide the training you need, to answer questions, to provide options, and to help you find additional resources – whether you’re trying to improve your Web site, to get an answer to a tricky legal question, or to hire a new staff member.
Bottom line: We’re here for you. So call us with your questions, and watch our Web site as we add services and respond to the needs of Texas newspapers.
The Texas Center for Community Journalism is committed to making a positive difference in the development of community journalism in Texas. The Center will strengthen Texas community newspapers through affordable training, consulting services, and meeting practical needs through linking newspapers with available resources. The Center will also encourage scholarly research that addresses the current needs and future opportunities of Texas community journalism.
Tommy Thomason (director)
Tommy Thomason is the founding director of the Texas Center for Community Journalism. Thomason began his career in journalism in the early 1970s with the Associated Press, working as a sportswriter in Arkadelphia and Little Rock, Ark. He has also worked in public relations in Dallas and as a copyeditor for several regional magazines.
Dr. Thomason has taught journalism at five universities and has been at TCU since 1984. In 1987, he was one of the winners of a national Teaching Award in Journalism Ethics from the Poynter Institute of Media Studies in St. Petersburg, Fla. He was the founding director of the TCU Schieffer School of Journalism and stepped down from that position in 2009 to found TCCJ.
He has been one of the nation's most active researchers on the media's treatment of crime victims. His research has been presented at both regional and national symposia and has cited in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Time magazine, Presstime and the Columbia Journalism Review.
Dr. Thomason was co-director of the first national symposium on crime victims and the news media, which was televised nationally on C-SPAN, and a symposium on coverage of sex crimes, Sex in the Media: The Public's Right to Know vs. the Victim's Right to Privacy.
He maintains an interest in writing at all academic levels, and frequently speaks to elementary school teachers about writing workshops for children. He is the author of More than a Writing Teacher: How to Become a Teacher Who Writes, Writer to Writer: How to Conference Young Authors, Write On Target: How to Prepare Young Writers for Success on Writing Achievement Tests, Absolutely Write: Teaching the Craft Elements of Writing and Writeaerobics: 40 Exercises to Improve Your Writing Teaching, and Tools, not Rules: Teaching Grammar in the Writing Classroom.
He is listed in Who's Who in the South and Southwest, Who's Who in American Education, Men of Achievement, Who's Who in the World and Dictionary of International Biography.
Andrew Chavez (associate director/digital initiatives)
Besides his work with the Center, Andrew Chavez is the director of digital media for the Schieffer School of Journalism at TCU.
Chavez has won numerous college journalism awards for his reporting and photography. As a two-term editor in chief of the TCU Daily Skiff, the campus daily, his oversaw the development of the online presence of the DailySkiff.com web site, twice selected by SPJ as the top college news site in Texas and Oklahoma. Under his leadership, the newspaper's coverage of the controversy surrounding the Rev. Jeremiah Wright attracted national media attention.
He has also worked as a staff photographer at the Clovis (N.M.) News Journal and as a reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Andrew holds an M.S. in journalism from TCU.
Roy Eaton (publisher in residence)
Roy J. Eaton retired in 2009 as president and publisher of the Wise County Messenger, a newspaper he had owned and published for 33 years.
He began his journalism career as a part-time reporter for a Fort Worth radio station in 1956 following his freshman year at TCU. While still a student, he was named news director of the station in 1958.
He became news director of the NBC radio affiliate in Dallas-Fort Worth in 1968 and later became director of television news coverage and news anchorman for the Dallas-Fort Worth NBC television affiliate.
He returned to his home town and purchased the Wise County Messenger in 1973 when it was a weekly publication of 2,500 circulation. The paper began publishing twice-weekly in 1980 and now has a paid circulation of more than 7,000. Combined with a Total Market Coverage publication "All Around Wise" the Messenger has a mid-week circulation of more than 21,000.
The Messenger won more than 150 awards for excellence in news coverage, advertising and design, including 21 awards in the National Newspaper Association Better Newspaper contests in 2008. The Messenger won NNA's coveted "General Excellence" award for twice-weekly newspapers in 2005.
Eaton was elected to the National Newspaper Association board of directors in 1992 representing Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and New Mexico. He was president of NNA in 1996-97 and has also served as chairman of the NNA Postal and Membership committees.
He is a past president of the Texas Press Association and the Texas Newspaper Foundation and the Fort Worth Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He is a past director of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. Eaton has received the Harold Hudson Memorial Award from the West Texas Press Association and the Sam C. Holloway Award from the North and East Texas Press Association. For the past 40 years, he has served as a livestock show and parade announcer for the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show in Fort Worth.
He was presented the 2005 Ethics Award by the Schieffer School of Journalism. The award was presented "in recognition of a career dedicated to achieving and demanding the highest ethical standards in the profession of journalism."
Chip Stewart (law)
Dr. Chip Stewart joined the Schieffer School from the University of Missouri, where he finished his Ph.D. while teaching and working at the Columbia Missourian.
Stewart is currently editor-in-chief of Dispute Resolution Magazine, a quarterly publication of the Dispute Resolution Section of the American Bar Association.
His journalism experience includes working as city editor of the Missourian. He is also a sports freelance writer and has worked as a sports public relations assistant at Southern Methodist University.
Stewart earned his law degree at the University of Texas and is licensed to practice both by the Texas bar and the Missouri bar. He worked as an attorney in Killeen in the late 1990s, practicing criminal, bankruptcy and family law. He also clerked in the Travis County Attorney's office.
Broc Sears (publication design)
Broc Sears has been involved with publications for over 30 years. He a former Senior Editor for Design and Graphics at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, where he and supervised a creative team of 35 editors, designers and artists who are responsible for the daily visual report of the paper. He is currently a professional in residence at the TCU Schieffer School of Journalism and has also taught at UTA and SMU. He was Art Director of the Dallas Times Herald, Dallas Morning News and University of North Texas Public Information Office.
He has been responsible for three redesigns at the Star-Telegram, the Dallas Times Herald in the mid 1980s and directed the redesign team of the Dallas Morning News in the early 1980s.
He has received recognition as an editor, designer, illustrator and art director by the Society of News Design, Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, Print Magazine, Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, Graphis, Art Director's Club of NYC, Associated Press Managing Editors of Texas and Dallas Press Club.
He has been a featured speaker and guest lecturer at numerous schools and seminars including Texas A&M, University of Missouri, University of North Texas, Louisiana Press Association, Society of Newspaper Design, API, APME, APSE, Texas Press Association and others.
Robert Bohler (writing)
Robert Bohler is a veteran of Georgia community journalism. He now advises the TCU Daily Skiff laboratory newspaper at TCU and the quarterly Image Magazine, and he also oversees their production and advertising operations.
He has worked in, written about, or taught how to practice journalism since 1981, when he began his career at a weekly newspaper in Georgia. His professional experiences range from that of managing editor at that small weekly newspaper to general assignment and public affairs reporting at medium-sized and metropolitan dailies. Bohler has reported for The Lanier County (Ga.) News, The Valdosta (Ga.) Daily Times, The Athens (Ga.) Banner-Herald and The Athens Daily News, The Greenville (S.C.) News, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
His commentaries on the ethics scandals at newspapers and the national news coverage of the deaths of Princess Diana and John F. Kennedy Jr. have been published in Editor & Publisher magazine, and other essays on news coverage and popular culture have been published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Bohler joined the Schieffer School of Journalism in 2000 after 10 years as a journalism faculty member at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Ga., where he also served as adviser to news operations at The George-Anne, the student newspaper.
He is actively involved with the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association and College Media Advisers, the nation's largest group of student media advisers. He is editor of College Media Review, the quarterly magazine of popular and peer-reviewed articles published by CMA and from 2002 until 2006 was coordinator of publication critiques at the CMA national conventions. He has also served as editor or co-editor of several student-staffed daily newspapers that have covered the national conventions of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Association of Educators in Journalism and Mass Communication.
Chuck Nau (advertising sales)
Chuck Nau, of Murray & Nau, Inc., is a publishing consultant with over
25 years of experience, having served the Seattle Times, Knight-Ridder Newspapers and the Chicago Tribune in a number of management, marketing, media and sales capacities.
Nau’s work as a publishing consultant includes clients who are newspapers, publishing associations and niche publications. His practice enables him to put his
wide range of publishing experience to work for publishers, sales management teams and senior managers on both a day to day and special project basis. He has assisted clients as a management consultant, sales trainer, facilitator and coach/mentor in advertising, circulation and marketing areas.
In addition to his consulting practice, Nau has spoken to and conducted workshops for a number of national publishing groups, state press associations, and newspaper organizations throughout North America. He has written a series of columns covering topics in advertising, management, marketing, and sales which have appeared in various newspaper industry and press association publications.
Max Heath (postal issues)
Max Heath is a semi-retired postal consultant for Publishing Group of America (American Profile/Relish/Spry), and for Landmark Community Newspapers, Inc., a division of Landmark Communications. For 21 years he was executive editor and for 23 years corporate circulation director as well.
In his 28th year as chair of the Postal Committee of the National Newspaper Association, Heath writes a monthly Postal Tips column for Publisher's Auxiliary. He was named to the Postal Service Mailer's Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) representing NNA in 1989 and is also on the national Periodical Operations Advisory Committee, and the rule-making Periodicals Advisory Group.
He received the NNA President's Award in 1989 and 1997, Ambassador Award in 1992, and coveted Amos Award for service to NNA in 1994, and a President’s Award in 2007. The Postal Service presented him a Special Achievement Award Sept. 2, 1998, at the National Postal Forum.
He conducts seminars on "Maximizing Postal Savings and Delivery" for newspaper associations and groups as part of NNA's outreach to the industry. He is past NNA director for Region 3.
Dianna Hunt (freedom of information)
Dianna Hunt, a reporter/editor at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and former co-owner of the weekly Bosque County News, spent more than 25 years at some of the largest newspapers in Texas before venturing into community journalism.
She has worked at The Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, covering a variety of government beats, including multiple City Halls, federal courts, public education and the Texas Legislature.
Many of those years were also spent as a watchdog/investigative reporter producing stories on racial profiling in the Houston area and throughout Texas, improprieties among nonprofits, failure of federal emergency funding to reach the neediest victims of a tornado, and problems within suburban fire departments in North Texas.
She won the Texas APME Freedom of Information award twice and the national Brechner Award for Freedom of Information for packages of stories about open government, and she has also won state and national awards for feature writing, short features and spot news.
She moved into editing in 2001 to oversee the government reporters at the Star-Telegram, and later moved to the business department as an assistant business editor. She recently returned to reporting in a combined reporting/editing role.
She is a former board member of the Investigative Reporters & Editors organization, and is a member of the Native American Journalists Association. She received a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1981 from the University of Texas at Austin.
Steve Buttry (innovative approaches to community journalism)
Steve Buttry, a 1976 graduate of TCU, is director of community engagement at Albritton Communications. He came to Albritton for his position as C3 Innovation Coach for Gazette Communications, where he guided the company’s pursuit of the Complete Community Connection and a Mobile-First Strategy, Steve’s vision for a new business model for local media companies. He joined The Gazette and GazetteOnline as editor in 2008 and directed coverage of a flood that was the biggest natural disaster in Iowa history. The Gazette staff won the Sigma Delta Chi Award for deadline reporting for its flood coverage. Steve was recently named Editor of the Year by Editor & Publisher magazine.
Steve has spent 38 years in journalism, starting his senior year of high school as a sports writer at The Evening Sentinel in Shenandoah, Iowa. He has been a reporter, editor and writing coach for the Des Moines Register, Kansas City Star and Times, Minot Daily News and Omaha World-Herald. Steve has pursued his journalism career in newsrooms, news stories and events in 43 states, eight Canadian provinces, Russia, Ecuador, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. He has taught journalists and media executives in more than 300 newsrooms, seminars, conferences, universities and webinars.
Before joining The Gazette, he spent three years with the American Press Institute, focusing mostly on teaching and research in the Newspaper Next innovation project. He remains affiliated with API, conducting the Upholding and Updating Ethical Standards seminar series.
Michael Sherrod (media economics)
Michael Sherrod has been a pioneer in the online world since 1985. At the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he created and sold one of the world's first electronic advertisements to AT&T through an innovative video-text news service he helped manage. In his career Sherrod founded or co-founded 10 companies, including DigitalCity.com, as well as served in senior management roles at AMR Information Services, AOL, Ancestry.com, and examiner.com where he was founding president & CEO. He recently served as the first publisher of the paradigm-busting and highly successful TexasTribune.org, a non-profit, non-partisan media site covering Texas Government, politics and policy.
Sherrod is chairman of the board of Umbel.com, a web start-up that provides digital genome analysis for companies and brands. Additionally, Sherrod is chairman of the board of trustees of the Kinsey Institute, the world's leading research institute for sex, gender and reproduction. He is co-founder and director of Black Dove Media, LLC, a media think tank and experimental publisher devoted to developing new and innovative publishing models. He also serves as board member and adviser to a number of online organizations and is an author and frequent speaker on online, cultural and media issues.
Sherrod holds a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame, where he studied in the interdisciplinary Great Books Program, and M.A. in Journalism from the University of Missouri at Columbia and an M.B.A. from the Neeley School of Business at TCU.