The allure of Austin - School of Journalism


The allure of Austin - School of Journalism
June 17-29, 2012
What we did
after class
The shopping scene
is amazing.
It has a lot
to offer.
you could
want or think of you can
find. One of my favorite
stores is Sam Moon Trading
Company, a super-sized
accessories store. It is an
amazing shopping experience. I’ve never seen such a
sea of purses and belts. —
The publication of Group B
The allure of Austin
Sheryl Barto (Colorado)
Going out
on walks
and jogs
with fellow
students at
Lady Bird
Lake, going
out for dinner and finding other people
who are as crazy as me. —
Carlos Briano (Texas)
Eating at
the Iron
and being
served by a
man with a
mustache. — Jessica Colden
Taking a
ride to Barton Springs
for $20
with Janelle
and Chelsea Gist. The pedi-cab driver
was amazing. He took us on
a three-hour tour of the city.
The evening ended with a
stop at Amy’s Ice Cream
an Austin landmark—delicious. — Jess Curry
The best of Austin: page 2
Bobby Hawthorne: page 2
Janet Elbom: page 3
He said, she said: page 3
Participant profiles: page 4
Runners line up for the Keep Austin Weird 5K on June 23. The race was part of the annual Keep Austin Weird festival. Photo by Jay Prince
by Jay Prince, staff writer
housands of gawkers line the Congress
Avenue bridge, patiently
awaiting the dusky emergence of 1.5 million Mexican
free-tail bats. They’ve been
promised something unique
and spectacular, and their
expectations are high.
The only flying mammals, bats are freaks in
a category all their own.
This colony has found
an incongruous home in
downtown Austin, seeking
not limestone caves, but mechanically precise concrete
grooves of the Congress
Avenue Bridge. They showboat and grandstand as they
emerge from their cracks to
delighted “oohs,” “ahs” and
drunken party cheers. It’s
an eccentric performance.
But Austin has always
embraced the fringe.
“I guess ever since the
60s it’s been kind of a hippie
city,” said Michael Angus,
a three-month resident of
Austin. “There’s an energy
unlike any other place in
The idea of Austin is
almost mythic because it
is so different from many
conservative cities in Texas.
It feeds into itself.
“It’s kinda like with San
Francisco- as soon as people
start hearing that [it’s cool],
like-minded people start
flocking so now it’s like this
huge place to go for music
everybody ends up here,”
Angus said.
The Keep Austin Weird
festival and slogan exemplify both the established
reputation of anti-establishment that Austin has,
as well as the ability to
self-promote. The festival
struggles between promoting local businesses and
using corporate commercialism to expand.
Local business owner
Petie Peterson saw it all
from his Hey Cupcakes!
“It’s a really good idea,”
Peterson said. “I mean, If
you want to talk dollars,
there’s evidence that local
businesses return much
more money to the community than the national ones.”
And the local business
turned out. Rows of local
vendors and food booths
line the Long Center patio.
Multinational companies
Nike and Dos Equis have
their own booths, prominently located within view
of the main music stage.
“It would be nice to
see Austin’s Pizza herethey’re local, you know.
You see Mellow Mushroom
over there, all hippie and
alternative, but they’re a
national chain,” Peterson
said. “I mean look at their
shirts. Keep Austin Mellow.
They’re plugging into our
thing here, profiting and
promoting themselves at the
same time. You know, that’s
capitalism. It’s the way it all
The slogan Keep Austin
Weird has been around for
10 years as a promotion for
the culture and independent
spirit. Its proceeds are philanthropic, directly funding
the Austin Parks Foundation which sends millions of
dollars to improve the local
But it’s been around
longer than that.
“Yeah, Keep Austin
Weird is fine, but in San
Antonio they play it off differently,” San Antonio resident Rosa Rodriguez said.
See “Weird” on pg. 4
Awesome Austin ‘Go along for the ride’
An incomplete list of unique
places & businesses to visit
• Bat Bridge: Congress Avenue Bridge over Lady Bird
Lake. Face East, away from the setting sun at dusk
and watch 1.5 million bats emerge in search of protein.
• Barton Springs: Located in Zilker Park, this 900 foot
long spring-fed pool is open to the public. A great
place to cool off in the hot Austin summer.
• Brave New Books: Claims one
of the world’s largest and most
varied collections of suppressed
information. Big Ron Paul supporters. Located at 1904 Guadalupe.
•The Driskill Hotel: This palatial
6th Street landmark is a great place
to see live music.
• G’Raj Mahal: Eat scrumptious Indian food under a
tent. You’ll forget you’re at a food truck in a parking
lot if you’re there with good company. The heavy metal
and indie rock music adds to the ambience. Find them
at 91 Red River.
• Ironworks: Real Austin Barbecue with a storied
history that registers on Austin’s historical registry. 100
Red River
• Monkeywrench Books: An independent, radical,
all-volunteer bookstore located in North Austin at 110
E. North Loop.
• Museum of the Weird: Spend
your 5 bucks to see the gallery of
weirdness. An extra $2 buys a
sword-swallowing show. 412 E. 6
• Shoal Creek Trail: A popular
walking and running trail running from 38 street south
to Lady Bird Lake. Cross through Austin via Pease
Park, Duncan Park Austin without waiting for any
• Texas Chili Parlor: Right around the corner from the
Doubletree Suites. Go on Monday for the chili, go on
Tuesday for a $5 burger. Eat well and feel like a local.
• Toy Joy: Toys and oddities from around the world.
Spend hours of fun in this independently owned toy
store located on 2900 Guadalupe St.
• Zilker Botanical Gardens: This
30 acre piece of Zilker Park is just
south of Lady Bird Lake and truly
“the Jewel in the Heart of Austin.”
page 2
Veteran reporter Bobby Hawthorne answers questions from Virginia teacher Ellen Sullivan after his session on
student reporting. Hawthorne said student writing must be compelling to its audience. Photo by Erika Mincey
writer explains
how to get a
great story
by Beth Manz, staff writer
t’s the end of a championship football season at
Boerne High School and the
new yearbook adviser asks
a student to interview the
head football coach and get
a story about the road to the
championship. The student
has no interview training. He goes out to get the
story from the football coach
about the football championship, but comes back
empty handed without a
story. The copy he turns in is
not a story about the rough
road to the state championship, but a list of rote facts,
events and statistics.
Journalism teachers have
the responsibility to equip
their students with the skill
of asking questions that
will draw out answers from
their interviewee that get
results—a great story. They
need to be confident, inquiring and fearless reporters
who will get out there and
converse with people so
they will have an interesting
story to report. They need
to be taught persistence in
asking excellent questions
until they get answers that
tell a story.
Nationally known
journalism expert, writer
and consultant Bobby
Hawthorne shared these
suggestions with the American Society of News Editors
Institute 2012 participants
at the University of Texas,
Austin and challenged them
to teach students how to be
great reporters by asking
good questions that lead to a
great story.
“It doesn’t cost any more
to write a good story rather
than a bad story. It’s your
choice,” Hawthorne said.
Students need to write to
engage their audience. The
piece needs to be engaging
so their audience will want
to read it. The best way to
do this is to tell a story. Tell
the audience something they
don’t know. Ask good questions that will evoke stories.
Whet their appetite to want
to read more.
“Your opinion does not
count—no one cares. What
does matter is your experience. Find a person who
has a real life experience
that goes with the subject.
For example, if the story is
about homeless people find
a homeless person to interview,” Hawthorne said.
It takes persistence and
patience to develop the
skills of a great reporter.
“Reporting is a process
and it takes time. Students
need to take their time and
get a story. They need to ask
people to tell the truth and
they will, if students ask
and write good questions.
Ask the obvious questions.
Help students think about
the questions they are going
to ask. Don’t send them out
blind. Students need to get
out of their comfort zones to
be good journalists. People
have stories to tell so students need to get out there
and put themselves among
them,” Hawthorne said.
ASNE Institute participants enjoyed Hawthorne’s
wit and wisdom.
“It’s a matter of talking
to the kids and using the
tips and key phrases that
Bobby gave to get beyond
the superficial,” Travis Armknecht from St. Louis said.
Ellen Sullivan from
Virginia Beach, Va. enjoyed
Hawthorne’s afternoon session better than his morning
presentation. “Hawthorne’s
formula for writing a great
story was a helpful technique that I plan to teach my
students,” Sullivan said.
Armknecht also appreciated the afternoon session.
“Hawthorne’s formula for
writing a great story full of
quotes using the ladder of
instruction is an effective
tool. The formula of lead,
quote, transition, quote, transition is going to be a really
concrete way to show kids
how to get and write great
stories,” Armknecht said.
The Austin Gazette • June 17-29, 2012 •
The end of ‘he said,
she said’ journalism
by Jamie Miller, staff writer
UT student Natasha Smith showcases some award-winning two-page
spreads from student newspapers. Photo by Jamie Miller
Lovely layout
retains readers
by Erika Mincey, staff writer
t’s not what’s on the
cover of a newspaper that
entices readers to continue
reading. Using a combination of text, photos and
graphic elements to tell a
story for both magazine
and newspaper layout has
become the driving force
behind getting readers to
read a publication from one
page to the next.
In fact, Austin LBJ High
School journalism teacher
Janet Elbom said she and
her newspaper staff use this
technique to tell convincing
stories, which has won top
state and national awards
for the school’s newspaper,
The Liberator, including
the Gold Stars from ILPC,
Pacemakers from NSPA and
Gold and Silver Crowns
from CSPA.
“Centerpieces, are also
known as a ‘double truck,’
give readers key information about what the story
is about, without having to
read the entire body of text,”
Elbom said. “It’s fun to read
things with pictures.”
Publication centerpieces
often originate from story
beats, she said.
“The two ways to generate centerpiece ideas are to
first choose an evergreen
topic or a news peg that
focuses on a local in-depth
story,” said Natasha Smith,
one of Elbom’s former journalism students. “Adding
a fresh angle and creativity
to both the writing and the
design, helps to compliment
the theme of the story.”
Depending on the story’s
topic, determines how much
writing is required to piece
together a spread. Journalist
should write enough text to
cover the meat of the story.
Dawn Begor of Pittsburgh said “writing for
spreads requires in-depth
interviewing and researching for complex topics,
unlike basic story beats.”
Katie Byrd of Oklahoma
City said the full spread allows her students to capture
more information.
“With an expanded
spread layout, my students
have additional space to
define the theme of the
story, so readers can read it
and experience it mentally,”
Byrd said. “In addition,
students have extended time
to develop their stories by
researching the topic and
interviewing good sources.”
Elbom advised teachers
to narrow the research gathered and include additional
information in graphs, secondary stories and sidebars.
“Prior to this training, I
wasn’t aware of the different
graphics students can use
to break up long bodies
of text,” said journalism
teacher Chelsea Gist of New
Orleans.“ I plan to incorporate Elbom’s advanced
layout and design techniques into my high school
journalism curriculum.”
Gist said she will change
to a very modern and sleek
look with more eye-catching
centerpieces to include creative fonts, excellent use of
filling white space, a variety
of colors and photographs.
ack in January, The New
York Times’ public editor Arthur Brisbane asked
his readers whether or not
the Times ought to be a
“truth vigilante.” The reaction was swift: readers and
critics universally bellowed
type of in-text fact-checking
is not only what readers
want but also what they expect as a basic civic function
of journalism, unlike the “he
said, she said” version that
seems so common in the
nation’s newsrooms.
Media critic and NYU
professor Jay Rosen has
defined “he said, she said”
journalism as any coverage that lacks assessment
of competing truth claims
from opposing sides. For example, a recent Los Angeles
Times story about the potential prominence of Iowa in
the 2012 election endgame
mentioned Romney’s claim
that Obama has unleashed
an unprecedented “prairie
fire of debt.” The article
went on to dutifully quote
the Obama campaign’s
response, but no effort was
made to independently
assess Romney’s statement.
That was left up to Calvin
Woodward of the Associated Press, who found that
Obama had not actually
increased the nation’s debt
nearly as much as Romney
Romney made a significant claim and the Obama
campaign rebutted it, as
expected - but isn’t it part
of a journalist’s duty to
pass along real facts to the
You don’t just report
each statement
and leave it at that.
You check
a thermometer.
public? The truth is more
than simply “Democrats
said, Republicans responded” and vice versa. As film
critic (and former journalist) Roger Ebert explained,
“If somebody says ‘it’s 72
degrees in this room,’ and
his opponent says ‘No, it’s
43 degrees,’ you don’t just
report each statement and
leave it at that. You check a
Perhaps as a result of
criticism from Rosen and
other media critics, NPR
recently announced changes
to its ethics policy which
specifically encourage
their reporters to truth-test
claims: “If our sources try
to mislead us or put a false
spin on the information
they give us, we tell our
audience. If the balance of
evidence in a matter of controversy weighs heavily on
one side, we acknowledge it
in our reports.”
All serious, professional
journalism organizations
ought to follow NPR’s lead.
Every time a politician
opens her mouth, journalists ought to be checking
the thermometer - not just
as adversaries to power,
but as essential servants of
democracy. When voters
believe all politicians are
liars, it’s up to journalists
to show who’s the worst
Educators meet editors
Carlos Briano, journalism teacher at El Dorado High School in El Paso, tries to get a good photo of Kathy Blackwell, the features editor at the Austin American-Statesman, during a morning budget meeting. Briano and his
ASNE Institute colleagues toured the Statesman’s facilities afterward. Photo by Jay Prince
The Austin Gazette • June 17-29, 2012 •
page 3
Paths to professions
ASNE participants have diverse backgrounds
by Rosa Rodriguez, staff writer
from the U.S. and abroad
who had an experience that
led them to embracing the
field of communications,
inspiring others with their
stories and shaping young
“My idea is to give
students a way into this
era where they can put out
information and feel smart,
interesting and have something to say,” said Marc
Murdock, 53, a newspaper
adviser at Kalaheo High
School in Kailua, Hawaii.
Murdock, a former chef,
says he was a challenging
student who never imagined pursuing teaching. He
calls journalism his “fantasy
job” but believes he enables
students to make a greater
impact as young communicators in journalism than
reading through essays
and corrected papers in an
English class.
As a chef, Murdock embraced giving equal opportunities to the less affluent.
His goal was to provide a
variety of ritzy foods, such
as gourmet burritos, at affordable prices. He worked
in high-end catering and believed many people weren’t
enjoying foods that only
the wealthy could afford,
something which inspired
Murdock to pursue helping
at-risk youth. He wanted to
underscore his philosophy
that people at an early age
must learn to survive and
take part in their democracy
ess Curry sketches the
picture of a car accident
she reported for the North
Texas Daily as though the
wreck happened yesterday.
Two teens flipped their
truck along Interstate 35 at
the point where the road
merges and splits into the
Dallas/Ft. Worth exits. That
was three years ago, but the
impact caused her to think
twice about her journalistic
A rookie reporter at the
time, Curry’s long-held
ambition of climbing the
Two women pose for photos before the 5K begins. Photo by Jay Prince
ranks as a journalist quickly
‘Weird’ fest draws independent spirits dissolved as her peers
displayed their emotional
continued from pg. 1
of his costume. “My wife
distance from the recent
had a real tough run of
”It’s more of conservative,
it a few years ago. They
“I couldn’t see myself
family city there. They say
wouldn’t have caught it at
covering news after that,”
Keep San Antonio Lame.”
all if my insurance wasn’t
said Curry, a 21-year-old
Time Warner Cable
so good. It was the digital
journalism teacher at RaInstaller Pat McGarnle takes mammography that made
paport Academy in Waco.
a day off to join the weirdthe difference. I have no
“It was just the attitude
ness, often sitting at the
doubt they wouldn’t have
around,” she said. “Everyfringe of the crowd with a
caught it until it was too late one hoped someone would
cigarette, a tool belt, a safety without it.”
die, and the lack of emotion
vest and the long braids
McGarnle’s wife, who is was just something that I
that are the trademark of
now fully recovered, walks
couldn’t deal with the rest
one quintessentially Austin
for the cause as well.
of my life.”
“I conned him into doCurry, whose fondness
“I’m Willie under coning it with me. But really, it for journalism began at
struction,” McGarnle said of wasn’t that hard.”
the age of six while taking
his getup.
So ‘Willie Nelson’ uses
pictures with a Crayola
And what could be more the opportunity to fill his
camera her father gave her,
Austin than that? When
personal agenda. Austin is
is one of many professionals
Willie Nelson left Nashville
paying attention because
to return to Texas, Austin
that’s what Austin does. It
gobbled him up. Nelson’s
looks closely at the fringe
long hair and imperfect
voices, not to grandstand,
voice just didn’t assimilate
but to be democratic.
are former journalists
with the traditional country
Austin is weird and
music scene coming out of
everybody knows it. It’s
Nashville, but there was
plastered on T-shirts, bumsomething different about
per stickers, mugs and magare
Austin. That differentness
nets, most made in China.
has become legend and
Individuals and organizaTexas
Austin now prides itself on
tions may use this ethos to
its unique ability to mash
promote their own agendas,
together and accept “weirdbut more often than not, the
ness” in its pure form.
agenda is selfless.
Lack of ability to fit in
This independent spirit
has been a selling point
should capture those who
in Austin for years. But
have slipped between the
Caliweirdness isn’t merely selfcracks of normal society and
are waiting for dusk. For
“Well I’ve got this QR
then is just the right time
code on my back trying to
to shriek, spread leathery
raise awareness for breast
wings and become a speccancer.” McGarnle said
tacle of oddity.
where they can work hard
to meet challenges that society places upon them and
have the necessary tools to
voice their concerns.
“Everyone has the right
to be smart and well read,
and I’m glad I can facilitate
that,” he said. “Michelle
Obama said, ‘Being smart is
cool.’ I agree with that.”
For other young communicators in the field,
creativity and storytelling is
a talent they embraced since
“I grabbed a pencil
when I was only five and
just began drawing things
that came to mind and pretty soon I was making art,”
said Oscar Gomez-Garcia,
a native of Madrid who
recently earned a Master
of Arts degree in journalism from the University
of Texas at Austin. “It was
that experience from the
time I was a little boy that
made me decide to want to
be a graphic designer and
express my creativity.”
Garcia freelanced for
several graphic design companies in his homeland and
pursued his graduate degree in the U.S. to advance
his skills as a communicator
and strengthen his local
and global connections in
the field.
“What I do I call multimedia storytelling,” he said.
“It’s telling stories graphically with videos, sound,
pictures and creativity.”
ASNE Austin by the numbers
12 are career educators
1 is
1 is

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