Categories
Front Page

TCCJ hosts sports coverage workshop

: Sierra Wells/TCCJ Contributor

 

Journalists from newspapers around Texas joined the Texas Center for Community Journalism (TCCJ) on Sept. 28-30 for a workshop about covering sports at community newspapers.

“The mission of the center is to provide training to folks like y’all, mid-level professional journalists who are out in the trenches doing the work. That’s our main goal,” TCCJ Director Austin Lewter said.

Eastern Illinois University Professor of Journalism Joe Gisondi started the workshop with a presentation about multimedia sports coverage.

He highlighted the importance of finding your newspaper’s audience. Whether it be on your website, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, post where people follow and consume your content most.

“Too often we think of the website as the main feed, just like for the print edition. It’s not all about the print, it’s not all about the website,” Gisondi said. “It’s about wherever you can find them. Like back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, you could see newspaper boxes in every corner because that’s where people were.”

Gisondi also stressed the importance of visuals in sports reporting, such as photos and videos, because they aid in storytelling.

“We want to have a visual every time for a couple of reasons,” Gisondi said. “When you put it on Facebook, when you put it on Twitter, when you put it on social media, there’s nothing more unprofessional or clunky looking than to have your masthead of your paper as the main thing for your story. That doesn’t help tell the story.”

Professional photographer Brian Braun joined later and gave further insight into sports photography.

Throughout the rest of the workshop, multiple speakers discussed how to best cover sports events.

Denise Squier, the editor for the Burleson County Tribune, went over volleyball coverage, which journalists can struggle with due to the complex rules and terminology.

Squier thinks reporters need to understand the team structure and rules to adequately cover a game.

“It’s hard to write about something you don’t know anything about,” she said.

Hood County News publisher Sam Houston gave a presentation on how to rethink traditional sports coverage.

“Young people now, the last thing they want to do is take a vacation to California and go to Chili’s,” Houston said. “Anybody in here agree with me on that? They want to go to someplace that’s unique, different and special. That’s the mindset now.”

Houston says sports results in print newspapers are old news because people can receive that information online more quickly.

“That’s why you have Facebook,” he said. “That’s why you have online. People need it instantly. That’s where you want to drive it.”

Due to a recent cultural shift toward technology, Houston thinks it is important to exist not only in print but on online and social media platforms as well.

Lewter closed out the workshop by encouraging the journalists to put what they learned into action but only if it works with their newspaper’s dynamic.

“You’re not going to implement everything you learn. You’re not going to want to implement everything you learn,” Lewter said. “Some of y’all just listened to Sam talk for an hour and were inspired, and some of y’all were like, ‘that’s not going to work for me,’ and that’s fine. We’re not here to dictate what you do. We’re here to give you those ideas. I always said that if you come away from these things with one or two things that you can put into action, then it’s worth your time.”

The upcoming TCCJ workshop in November will cover social media marketing and harnessing the power of social media through community newspapers.

Founded in 2008, the TCCJ is housed at Tarleton State University and is dedicated to training community journalists at no charge to them or their employers.

Categories
Front Page

Naples newspaper returns after year-long hiatus

Sierra Wells/TCCJ contributor

Despite facing unexpected obstacles over the past few years, local newspaper in Naples, Texas, has persevered and is continuing to print new editions after a nearly a year out of print.

“The Naples Monitor was established in 1886 and is the oldest continuing business in Naples, Texas,” Owner Morris Craig said.

Morris and Melba Craig took over ownership of The Monitor in 1972.

The Monitor covers all types of news from Bowie, Cass, Morris and Titus County. They print about 1,200 papers each week, as well as the occasional special edition.

“Special editions are always put together at Christmas, Easter and some local Naples Watermelon Festival specials,” Morris said. “We also did a sports special edition a couple of times when the Paul H. Pewitt Brahmas won the Class AA football State Championship and then another time when the Bulls made it to the State Finals,”

In 2010, the Texas Press Association presented Morris with their Golden 50 Award, honoring his long career in the news industry.

However, the Craigs’ service in the news industry was interrupted when Morris was diagnosed with stage four cancer. During this time, their last set of papers for a while printed on July 15, 2021.

“We were not sure about the future at that time, and we had The Monitor on the For Sale market,” Morris said.

Months passed without a new edition. This, however, was not the end of The Monitor. Over time, things started looking up for Melba and Morris.

After receiving good news from the oncologist, the Craigs decided to return to their newspaper and start printing again.

“We had a couple of bedrooms that were not being used since our children had gone out into the world on their own. We moved the needed equipment from the downtown area to our remodeled rooms at our home,” Morris said. “New equipment was purchased and a grandson was offering to help with the new typesetting equipment and new programs.”

Their first edition back from hiatus printed in July 2022, marking the official return of The Monitor.

Categories
Front Page

Metroport Messenger brings hope for the future of printed news

Sierra Wells/TCCJ contributor

During a time when many newspapers have had to permanently close their doors, Mary Rampellini was inspired to open her own newspaper, the Metroport Messenger, in Roanoke, Texas.

“I know it’s been very tough for those in print. Part of opening this was wanting to have something tangible in people’s hands, so their histories are recorded,” Rampellini said.

Publishing its first edition in July 2020, the Metroport Messenger covers school news, economic developments and public services in Roanoke, Westlake, Justin and Trophy Club.

“Serving others is one of the features I try to have every issue. And that’s someone who goes out and is working to better the lives of somebody else. They’re serving others, and that’s very important to me,” Rampellini said.

When the newspaper was first getting started, the COVID-19 pandemic posed various challenges with advertising.

“I really felt that it’s proper that I not go into a lot of stores face-to-face to business owners, so I made calls, phone calls, to try to sell ads, out of respect for others,” Rampellini said. “So that was probably limiting not meeting people face-to-face. We’ve been able to move beyond that.”

The Metroport Messenger prints five to six times a year, with approximately 10 editions already out. Rampellini hopes to grow the newspaper to print monthly in the future.

Rampellini previously opened a newspaper in Roanoke when she was 19 years old. However, after selling it, the newspaper eventually shut down.

“At that time there were about 5,000 addresses in the community; it’s the same communities that I’m doing, and now there’s over 15,000, so the growth has been incredible,” Rampellini said. “I think part of the challenge is uniting a larger amount of addresses and people with a community newspaper. I think it was easier when there were 5,000.”

Despite the popularity of printed news wavering, the Metroport Messenger has been consistently growing since opening.

“Our sales were the highest they’ve been this last edition, and I would say, generally speaking, we’ve climbed with each edition with sales. So, it’s been a very slow but steady growth,” Rampellini said.

Along with the print edition, community members can find links to the paper on the Metroport Messenger’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

“I certainly know its very tough to compete with the electronic world. We do put out a digital edition; we post that on social media,” Rampellini said. “I realize that has to be an aspect of business nowadays, but I was just really hoping that throwing it back, going a little old school might be a hit.”

“I think it’s very tough for print, but I’m hoping that there’s places for all of us that have newspapers to still have enough people supporting us in the print that we can carry on,” Rampellini said.

Sierra Wells is a senior journalism major at Tarleton State University. She is the Managing Editor of the Texan News Service and is a TCCJ contributor. 

 

 

Categories
Front Page

Who is the caretaker of your local newspaper?

Christa Wilson/TCCJ Staff

The warmup of summer has just begun during the first sighting of June.

School is out, but not for everyone. One classroom at the University of Texas in Austin was filled and bustling with ideas last week.

June 1-3 marked the calendars of many newspaper professionals, a crash course, and an opportunity for networking and sharing ideas.

These were the dates that the Texas Center for Community Journalism kicked off its Newspaper Management Bootcamp.

There were more than 30 participants at this year’s session. They represented papers from all over, some within the state, and some as far as Minnesota.

Gathering from all age groups and diverse backgrounds, they traveled to Austin. One thing brought them all together, a deep love and commitment for community journalism.

So, who are these people that write about the events in your communities week in and week out?

What are some of the problems that they overcome in their day-to-day jobs?

If you’d like to know the answers to these questions, read on.

What are some of the challenges that Community Newspaper Professionals face?

One of the battles that newspaper employees face is the fight to keep the papers expanding and growing. As technology continues to advance, newspaper owners and managers must collaborate and find new ways to grow and adapt.

The importance and necessity of community journalism has not changed, but the way that we consume our information has.

“It’s not tough times for the newspapers, it’s different times. How can we navigate and embrace these different times?” Austin Lewter, Director of the Center said.

This can be accomplished by “embracing the mundane,” said Lewter.

Diversity and inclusion are some additional important issues. There was also a discussion regarding the need for proper representation in newsrooms as well as in the stories journalists cover.

Alesia Woolridge, Juwan Lee and Soya Roberts-Woods participated in a panel discussion to address how the industry can bring more diversity into newsrooms.

Some very powerful and thought-provoking points were brought up.

The consensus was to hire people from various ethnicities and backgrounds as starting point to solving this problem.

The topic of trauma and covering traumatic events was also addressed. Listening to several discussions, I learned about the struggle that reporters and journalists face when covering tragedies.

There was an immense level empathy, care, concern and attentiveness involving this topic.

Sometimes local reporters may personally know the people involved in these catastrophic events, which can make reporting on them immensely difficult.

There was the ever-present dilemma between discretion and concern for the families involved, versus the need to inform citizens and the public about the incidents.

I overheard several people talk about their struggle with such issues and how it affected them both mentally and emotionally.

These are just a few of the dilemmas that community journalism professionals face on a daily basis.

These issues affect everyone differently and some make it their mission to find solutions to the problems.

Who are they?

They are pioneers.

Woolridge has some major accomplishments under her belt.

These include, being the first African American managing editor of two separate newspapers and later becoming the first African American publisher of both of those papers.

They have amazing stories.

Hugh Lewis of the Jefferson Jimplecute has interviewed some of the world’s most prominent political figures throughout his career.

This list includes, President Bill Clinton, President Barak Obama and Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, to name a few.

They are writers, authors and businesspeople.

They need to be everything short of lawyers to keep up with liable and copyright laws.

“Every time you publish a story, you are taking a chance that you will get sued,” Dr. Chip Stewart said.

Stewart is an attorney, professor and former editor, who specializes in media law.

I learned this week that community journalists are the know-alls and be-alls of the business, yet still modest enough to scoop up trash next to the intern.

They are researchers and academics.

Jim Moser manages 32 community newspapers and is the equivalent of a data analyst.

He is working on an important research project with Kathleen McElroy, Iris Chyl, Christian McDonald and Christopher Assaf.

McElroy is the Director of the UT School of Journalism.

She also worked at the New York Times for 20 years.

Their project focuses on the vitality of community newspapers and planning for the future.

They are representatives.

They write stories on issues that are import to the community. They stand up for what they believe in and report stories that speak out on important issues like bullying, city council policies and racial inclusion, to name a few.

They are teachers and mentors.

Lewter inspires leadership by coordinating and bringing events like this one to life. He serves as the Director of the Center for Community Journalism.

He is also a newspaper owner and professor who helps mentor students by introducing them to community journalism and potential employers.

They are spectators.

They keep a watchful eye on the communities and its citizens. They are there to witness the outcome of your child’s sports games and their triumphs week in and week out.

These are just a few examples of what some of the journalists in your communities do, on top of keeping the public informed about what takes place every day.

This list could go on.

As I learned this week, the takeaway is that these individuals bring so much more to the tables of your communities than just local news.

They are invaluable members of your cities and towns. They are hidden leaders, whose job it is to be as unnoticeable as possible.

So, the next time you see your local paper’s journalist, reporter, editor or owner (yes, they do all the above), out in your community working hard to keep a watchful eye, maybe offer a quick thank you.

Just a little spec of advice from an intern who knew nothing about community newspapers six months ago.

I have since gained a serious dose of humility from shadowing these individuals and learning the secret identities of your local, friendly, neighborhood journalists.

Christa Wilson graduated from Tarleton State University in May with a bachelor’s degree in communications. She served as a student intern for the Texas Center for Community Journalism in her last semester as an undergrad.  

Categories
Front Page

Tarleton student journalists participate in industry roundtable

By Abigail Allen/TCCJ Contributor

The future of Texas journalism sat in front of representatives from North and West Texas community newspapers Friday in Hamilton to discuss how to engage young people.

Six Tarleton State University students accompanied Austin Lewter, the director of the Texas Center for Community Journalism as well as a Tarleton instructor and the Texan News Service coordinator, to share their thoughts on how to reach them and their peers at the second-annual combined convention of the North and East Texas Press Association and the West Texas Press Association.

“Wyndi [Veigel] called and said, ‘Hey, would you come talk for about 45 minutes about how to engage younger people?’ and I said, ‘It would be a lot easier if I just brought you some younger people to talk to,’” Lewter said.

Those younger people were TNS Editor-in-Chief Elizabeth Guarjardo, Managing Editor Sierra Wells, Senior Producer Nicholas Ratcliff, Associate Producer Kyley Wilhite and graphic designer Taite Read as well as TCCJ’s student intern Christa Wilson.

The Texan News Service staff produces more than just a print product, Lewter said, also churning out television and video news, audio news and online news.

“These students who come out of our program come out with audio chops, with video chops, digital chops,” Lewter said. “And, by the time I’m done with them, hopefully they’ll know how to write a good story, too.”

The subjects the students tackled ranged from how they get their news and what their peers are interested in consuming, to what they’re looking for in employment and why they’re pursuing journalism.

All of them access their news online, whether through their social media feeds, Google News for the Android users or Apple News for the iPhone users, or through email.

“Social media brings it to me,” Guarjardo said.

Ratcliff is a self-proclaimed over-reader who accesses the media bias chart weekly and reads articles on the same topic from varied sources to combat issues of media bias.

He encouraged the editors, publishers and other journalists in the room to demonstrate to people his age that they are a trustworthy source of news.

Lewter also suggested that decisionmakers at local papers prioritize hiring “digital native positions”—for both editorial and advertising, when possible—to reach those online eyes.

When the discussion shifted to what publishers can do to entice young adults to work for them, the students had a few suggestions.

Those including promising a salary increase so the young journalists know they won’t be stuck at entry-level pay forever, providing a flexible work environment, and fostering an engaging and supportive newsroom.

Drawing on a practice hospitals in the Tyler and Longview area are using, Jim Bardwell, the Texas Press Association president and publisher of the Gladewater Mirror, Lindale News and Times, and the White Oak Independent, asked whether offering to help employees repay their student loans would attract them.

Wilson said that would help give her peace of mind as she leaves school and has to start making those payments.

Barbara Brannon, who is the editor and associate publisher of The Texas Spur, who also works with The Caprock Courier and the Floyd County Hesperian Beacon, brought up the “creative fringe benefit” of providing housing as a way to attract young reporters.

The students also talked about the responses they’ve had, either from peers or professors, to their work.

Wells talked about getting the most response on something that had a big impact on the culture of the school—a piece called “Purple Poo suspended for hazing” that discussed the spirit organization being suspended in March of 2021.

The responses can be harsh at times, Ratcliff said, with people sometimes asking how he and the TNS staff can be so critical of Tarleton.

“I love [the school] enough to do this,” he said.

Lange Svehlak, publisher of the Athens Daily Review, expressed his appreciation for the students and their willingness to be put on the spot for the roundtable.

“You give me hope, not just for the journalism industry, but also for your generation,” Svehlak said.

To see the work the Texan News Service staff creates, visit texannews.net.

Abigail Allen is the Managing Editor of the The Pilot Point Post-Signal.

Categories
Front Page Future of news

Let them print

The students studying journalism at Texas A&M University could have a valuable tool hampered by that school’s administration.

Taking away the print product produced by The Battalion’s staff by TAMU Pres. M. Katherine Banks, who at her own admission didn’t get why a paper newspaper matters, seems shortsighted.

“I’m not a professor of journalism; I don’t understand exactly why [print media] is important to the field,” The Battalion quoted Banks saying.

None of the journalism professors who work with the paper were asked for their input, according to the staff report.

Why ask an expert you trust to teach your students for their thoughts before making a sweeping announcement that you’re altering a paper that’s over 100 years old?

When I got to the University of North Texas, I had big plans for my future in journalism.

I was going to double-major in journalism and international studies and a minor in Spanish with the intention of becoming a foreign correspondent.

War had been in the news since Sept. 11, 2001. I graduated from high school in May 2007.

My history and language courses were filled with lessons about the difficulties people in third-world countries faced.

Plus, I wanted to do something that made a big impact on the world.

When I got to UNT, the way I wanted to immerse myself in the journalism world was to work for the North Texas Daily.

My professors helped us understand the value and impact our reporting could have when done well.

I got to practice my skills at news reporting, leadership, opinion writing, copy editing and various other aspects of working at a newspaper.

My work there helped me land an internship at the Dallas Morning News and led directly to the work I did with the Community Impact Newspaper after I graduated.

I’m grateful life took a turn from my aspirations of being a foreign correspondent to working for this local newspaper with a young family, but the work I do is still important. Without the practical experience I got at the Daily, I would have been lost in the transition to the work force.

The Daily was a laboratory with real accountability for any mistakes I or my fellow journalists made.

It was also a place where we as student journalists worked next to professional journalists, both still in the field and on the college’s staff.

Those professors would mercilessly tear apart our work with literal red marks coating the printed page, telling us how we could improve.

I still remember many of those comments as well as the tiny drawings in the white space that we left bare.

If such a major change is going to happen to a university newspaper, it should be done with the input and direction of the stakeholders who understand the stakes.

On Wednesday, Banks indicated that she might be changing her mind, in large part to the response to her decision.

“I care deeply about journalism at Texas A&M,” she said to The Battalion. “The reaction to this plan makes it clear that I should seek additional community feedback on the role of The Battalion and the rebuilt Department of Journalism, while also getting feedback about industry trends and future workforce needs.”

I commend her for taking the feedback, and criticism, she received and being willing to re-evaluate her decision. I hope that keeps the paper printing for years to come.

Abigail Allen is the Managing Editor editor of the Pilot Point Post-Signal. She can be reached at aallen@postsignal.com.

Categories
Front Page

Researchers seek input to help with ‘Keeping Community News Alive’

A research team at Texas Wesleyan University (TWU) is seeking input from community newspapers for a research project.

“We are working on a paper about archiving community newspapers in Texas,” Dr. Kay Colley said. “We are collecting data about how publishers are archiving at community newspapers. Based on the results, we will seek to build appropriate training to help make saving the ‘first draft of history’ easier.“

According to Colley, there is a significant lack of news archiving at community news organizations across the nation.

“When they hear the word ‘archiving’ most people automatically think of preserving the hard copy printed newspapers,” Colley said. “There is more to it than that. There is a growing need for proper archiving of our digital content and data as well. This project is geared to train community publishers how to archive better while on a budget.”

Colley is a professor of journalism at TWU where she has partnered with Librarian and Archivist Nancy Edge.
The pair have received a nod from the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Journalism to pursue research in newspaper archiving with the possibility of presenting a paper on the topic at their annual conference in Manhattan, Kansas later this year.

“We want to start with research specific to Texas newspapers and later expand to a nationwide scope,” Colley said.

As such, Colley and Edge are seeking input for Texas editors and publishers.

“If you are an editor or publisher of a community newspaper in Texas, please take my very brief survey,” Colley said. “The information we gather there will help us build case studies for the project.”

The survey is 10 short questions and can be found at:

https://txwes.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8oEfLF0hGWQrX4a?fbclid=IwAR0DpRT-abXNSQpVu84ZMM9kr8C3zC-x6Ezw7QsLZbucGVvgY9sCSW0szpg

“We are on a bit of a tight deadline though,” Colley said. “We need to receive all responses by Friday, March 4. Anyone willing to participate will be greatly appreciated.”

The proposed paper will be titled “Keeping Community News Alive: How to Create and Maintain an Archive.”

The nod from the Boyd Center means the TWU has been invited to submit the paper for approval and presentation at their next conference.

Once completed and, if approved, Colley with Edge will present their findings at Kansas State University.

For more information, contact Kolley at kcolley@txwes.edu

Categories
Front Page

Celebrating Black History Month: Woolridge is a leader in her community

Alesia Woolridge continues to make history as one of the few African American newspaper publishers in Texas.

She first made history in 2014 when she became the first African American Managing Editor of The Eagle Lake Headlight.

Eagle Lake is located in Colorado County, about an hour west of Houston.

The newspaper dates back to the 1890s.

Woolridge served as Managing Editor there until February 2016, when she accepted the same position at The Colorado County Citizen in Columbus.

She was the first African American Managing Editor there as well.

The Colorado County Citizen started publishing in 1857.

Woolridge purchased The Eagle Lake Headlight in August 2017 and became the first African American newspaper publisher in Colorado County.

That purchase also made her one of only a handful of African American newspaper publishers in the state who is not producing niche content geared toward the African American community.

In June 2020, Woolridge made history again when she returned to The Colorado County Citizen to serve as publisher.

She was the first African American to lead the county’s newspaper in its 163-year history.

“I’m the first, but I won’t be the last,” Woolridge said. “I will continue to do my best to make The Citizen the most diverse, inclusive news sources in this county, region and state.”

Woolridge is an award-winning writer.

She has won several journalism awards from the Texas Press Association, among other organizations.

She continues to serve her community through her leadership at The Citizen.

Woolridge also serves as a Fine Arts volunteer and mentor for cadets at the Rice Campus of Texas Challenge Academy.

She also volunteers with a journalism class at Rice High School. There, she mentors students on the importance of effective communication skills, telling stories with photography and finding their voice through writing.

Woolridge publishes weekly columns written by TCA cadets in The Citizen.

Her work with TCA helping students once at risk of dropping out of school discover a love for reading and writing has earned her local and statewide recognition.

According to Woolridge, the TCA campus unique in its relationship with their local newspaper.

Categories
Front Page

In-person TCCJ Workshop Returns, Fills in Record Time

Monday, November 8, 2021

STEPHENVILLE, Texas — The Texas Center for Community Journalism (TCCJ), based at Tarleton State University, is again offering face-to-face sessions with community journalists throughout the state.

The Nov. 18 “Eye on Design” workshop maxed out within 24 hours, a TCCJ record, according to Director Austin Lewter.

“To me, it’s just proof positive that we are doing work that is needed,” said Lewter, a communication studies Instructor. “Because of the pandemic, we placed workshops on hold and worked through virtual means. I think people are excited about being back in person.”

Newspaper veterans Broc Sears, Robert Bohler and Lewter will lead the design workshop in the Texan News Service newsroom on the Stephenville campus. The workshop encompasses an array of digital and print concepts geared to give attendees tools to take back to their newsrooms and use immediately.

Lewter and Bohler have taken writing workshops to community newsrooms over the last couple of months. In Snyder they worked with writers from three Texas papers. Future workshops will be in Ozona and Atlanta, Texas.

Recently, Lewter spoke with students at the Texas A&M College of Law on “The Sustainability of Local News.”

“It was a wonderful time,” he said. “The media law students were genuinely interested in the future of local news. It was inspiring.”

TCCJ’s spring workshops will include a Newspaper Management Bootcamp and a Community News Symposium. Details will be posted on the TCCJ Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/communityjournalism.

The Texas Center for Community Journalism moved to Tarleton in 2020 and partners with the nonprofit Texas Newspaper Foundation to invest in sustainable community journalism. Founded in 2009 at TCU, it provides training and professional development, industry networking and support for almost 400 small-town news outlets.

A founding member of The Texas A&M University System, Tarleton transforms generations by inspiring discovery, leadership and inclusion through teaching and research. Degree programs for more than 14,000 students in Stephenville, Fort Worth, Waco, Midlothian, at RELLIS Academic Alliance in Bryan, and online emphasize real-world learning that addresses regional needs while sustaining the values of excellence, integrity and respect.

Categories
Front Page

Founding Director inducted into Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame

TCCJ founder Tommy Thomason was inducted into the Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame in June 2021 at the Texas Press Association 141st annual convention in Denton, Texas.

Thomason retired in 2019 after teaching and mentoring journalism students for 35 years at the Texas Christian University Department of Journalism/Bob Schieffer College of Communication and the Texas Center for Community Journalism. While at the Schieffer College, Thomason taught many courses in communication, writing, history of mass media, reporting and media ethics.

Before his career at TCU, Thomason was a sportswriter with the Little Rock bureau of the Associated Press and director of sports information at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark.

He served Dallas Baptist University as director of public relations and was a columnist, copy editor and contributing editor with magazines in the DFW metroplex.

Thomason graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ouachita Baptist in 1970. He received a master’s degree and a doctorate in journalism from Texas A&M University-Commerce in 1972 and 1984, respectively. He also attended the University of Virginia and the Dallas Theological Seminary for additional graduate work.

Not only did he teach, he also applied and received $717,847 in grants over the years to support research, training and seminars. Of that amount, $509,247 was from the Texas Newspaper Foundation to conduct seminars for working journalists. Texas publishers, editors and reporters convened on the TCU campus to tackle issues common in community newspapers — refining reporting skills, utilizing the web, mobile journalism and newspaper design.

“Without question, forming the Texas Center for Community Journalism was the single best decision our Foundation has ever made. We had an idea; Tommy Thomason took it and ran with it,” said Larry Jackson, retired publisher of The Fayette County Record and Texas Newspaper Foundation board member.
Thomason has been a guest speaker at national and regional newspaper association workshops, a moderator, judge, panelist, advisor and consultant. He is the recipient of the National Teaching Award from the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, is listed in Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, Dictionary of International Biography, Who’s Who in American Education, Who’s Who in the World, Men of Achievement, Who’s Who in the Media and Communications, Who’s Who in Entertainment and Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers. He has also been a board member and held offices in many professional organizations such as International Institute of Literacy Learning, National Network for Education Improvement Initiatives and Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas.
Thomason is an author of nine books about journalism, one on music and a children’s book. He also has authored technical reports and academic papers over his career.

Thomason was inducted into the Hall of Fame by Austin Lewter, a veteran newspaperman who now serves as the director of the Center.