Featured: Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, at the rostrum (large desk) facing the Texas Senate chamber at the State Capitol Building. The portrait behind her is of Stephen F. Austin, known as the “Father of the Republic of Texas”, done shortly before his death on December 27, 1836.
Photograph By SENATE MEDIA SERVICES
Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, is one of six 2016 inductees into The Daily Texan Hall of Fame, the non-profit Friends of The Daily Texan announced recently. The organization was established in 2013 to support quality journalism and a strong future for the student newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin. While a UT undergraduate, Zaffirini served as a reporter, feature writer, copy editor, headline writer, assistant editor and special issue editor for The Daily Texan. “This award is especially meaningful to me because working for The Daily Texan was an amazing experience that strengthened my resolve to pursue a career in communication and public service,” Zaffirini said. “What’s more, I am grateful to the Friends of The Daily Texan not only for this honor, but also for their work to promote quality journalism and to ensure the success of The Daily Texan in the digital world. I share their belief in the power of student journalism, and, equally important, their commitment to freedom of speech and freedom of the press.”
Sen. Zaffirini named to UT campus newspaper’s The Daily Texan Hall of Fame; award ceremony scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday, September 16, 2016
By WILL KRUEGER
Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, is one of six 2016 inductees into The Daily Texan Hall of Fame, the nonprofit Friends of The Daily Texan announced recently.
The organization was established in 2013 to support quality journalism and a strong future for the student newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin.
According to Wikipedia, The Daily Texan is the student newspaper of the University of Texas at Austin. It is entirely student-run and independent from the university. It is one of the largest college newspapers in the United States, with a daily circulation of roughly 30,000 during the fall and spring semesters, and it is among the oldest student newspapers in the South. The Texan has won more national, regional and state awards than any other college newspaper in America and counts 10 Pulitzer Prize winners among its former staff.
As a UT undergraduate, Zaffirini served as a reporter, feature writer, copy editor, headline writer, assistant editor and special issue editor for The Daily Texan. The owner of Zaffirini Communications, she began her journalism career as a weekly columnist for the Laredo Morning Times when she was a high school student and, later, a UT student.
While a journalism and speech education major at UT Austin from 1965 to 1967, Zaffirini wrote a weekly column for her hometown Laredo newspaper and was a reporter and headline writer for The Daily Texan. She also served as assistant editor and special edition editor for The Texan in the summer of 1966.
The senator holds B.S., M.A. and PhD degrees in communication from UT, which named her the 2016 Outstanding Communication Alumna, 2013 Presidential Citation recipient, 2009 Distinguished Hispanic Alumna and 2003 UT Distinguished Alumna.
“This award is especially meaningful to me because working for The Daily Texan was an amazing experience that strengthened my resolve to pursue a career in communication and public service,” Zaffirini said. “What’s more, I am grateful to the Friends of The Daily Texan not only for this honor, but also for their work to promote quality journalism and to ensure the success of The Daily Texan in the digital world. I share their belief in the power of student journalism, and, equally important, their commitment to freedom of speech and freedom of the press.”
In 2015, Zaffirini supported numerous open meetings and public information state measures that became law, including two key proposals that she authored:
Senate Bill 27, by Zaffirini, requiring live broadcast over the internet of conference call meetings of the governing board of an institution of higher education to increase transparency and public access; and
Senate Bill 1844, establishing the Interagency Data Transparency Commission to study the current public data structure, classification, sharing, and reporting protocols for state agencies and the possibility of collecting and posting data from state agencies online in an open source format easily accessible by the public.
The awards ceremony will take place on Friday, September 16, 2016 at the Student Union, located on the campus of UT-Austin. The evening starts with a reception at 6 p.m.
First elected to the Texas Senate in 1986, Zaffirini now ranks second in seniority. She has passed more bills than any legislator in the history of the State of Texas and has cast 55,666 consecutive votes since January of 1987.
The owner of Zaffirini Communications, Zaffirini has won more than 900 awards for her legislative, public service and professional accomplishments.
She is the namesake of Texas A&M International University’s Senator Judith Zaffirini Student Success Center, United ISD’s Senator Judith Zaffirini Elementary School, Laredo Community College’s Senator Judith Zaffirini Library, Lake Casa Blanca International State Park’s Senator Judith Zaffirini Road and Edinburg’s Judith Zaffirini Residential Treatment Center that focuses on fighting drug addiction.
Reflecting her passion for higher education, her son, Carlos Zaffirini Jr., endowed scholarships in her honor at The University of Texas at Austin and Baylor College of Medicine. The Beaumont Foundation endowed a scholarship honoring her and Carlos Sr. at Texas A&M International University.
Tickets for the Friends of The Daily Texan awards ceremony are available via http://www.friendsofthedailytexan.org
The other 2016 Hall of Fame inductees include the late Deborah Howell, one of the first women to become the top editor at a major American newspaper; Kaye Northcott, former editor of the Texas Observer; Larry Price, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist; the late Mike Quinn, a former reporter and beloved UT journalism professor; and Gayle Reaves, a Pulitzer Prize-winning editor and journalist.
Two former UT journalism faculty members, Ron Gibson and Paul J. Thompson, will be honored posthumously with the Griff Singer Award, and New York Times reporter Emma Graves Fitzsimmons will receive the Rising Star Award.
“Take a moment and read every word of their bios,” said Friends President John Reetz. “In an time when the press faces challenges from every quarter, understanding what these journalists have done, and all journalists are doing, make you appreciate the contribution of journalism to our society, and the importance of The Daily Texan as their launching pad. And even better, come in person to celebrate journalism, September 16 at The Union.”
Each of the nine award recipients will be honored at that time.
In addition, attendees will hear from the current editor of The Daily Texan about the paper’s challenges and efforts today. Former State Senator Don Adams will be recognized for his support of a free press, and his selection as 2015 James Madison Award winner by the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. A book sale event featuring the work of former Texan staffers will also be a part of the evening, along with a Silent Auction of Texan-focused memorabilia.
Other speakers will be announced soon.
This is the fourth annual event sponsored by FOTDT.
‘Every year we reach more people, and we look forward to seeing you there. This is not only a time to recognize outstanding journalists, but to gather as a Daily Texan family, re-connect, and also meet other Texan supporters,” Reetz added.
One of the first women to become the top editor of a large American newspaper, Deborah Howell followed in the path set by her parents when they met in a newsroom. After working on The Texan and graduating from UT Austin in 1962, she worked for the Austin American-Statesman and the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.
At age 34, Howell became city editor of the Minneapolis Star, and four years later moved to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, where she would serve as managing editor and executive editor.
While at the Pioneer Press, she oversaw two projects that led to the newspaper winning the first Pulitzer Prizes in its history. In 1986, the newspaper was awarded the Pulitzer for Feature Writing for a five-part series examining the life of an American farm family “faced with the worst U.S. agricultural crisis since the Depression.” In 1988, the newspaper again was awarded the Pulitzer for Feature Writing for a series about the life and death of an AIDS victim in a rural farm community.
In 1990, Howell became the chief of the Washington Bureau for the Newhouse newspaper chain. Newhouse News Service also won a Pulitzer during her 15 years there. From 2005 to 2008, she served as ombudsman for The Washington Post, and later was a consultant for Advance Publications. She died at age 68 on January 1, 2010.
Elected editor of The Texan in 1965, at a time when the Vietnam War was escalating, Kaye Northcott wrote editorials in opposition to the war. This did not go over well with Frank Erwin, a member (and soon to be chairman) of the UT System Board of Regents and a National Democratic Committeeman.
Erwin did not think The Texan should criticize the policies of President Johnson. The ensuing year gave Northcott many lessons in Texas politics. In the end, Erwin failed to censor The Texan, but he did influence Northcott’s political and journalistic values for the rest of her career.
Like fellow Texan editors (and Texan Hall of Famers) Ronnie Dugger and Willie Morris before her, it was a natural progression for Northcott to become associate editor and then editor of the Texas Observer. After nine years there, she spent several years freelancing and honing her writing skills.
In 1986, Northcott went to work in the Austin Bureau of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and then moved to Fort Worth to become an editor. In 2000, she became associate editor and then editor of Texas Coop Power, a cooperatively based magazine with a circulation of 1.2 million, and served there for 10 years.
Since serving as a Texan photographer in 1976 and 1977, Larry Price has worked as a photographer and director of photography for six metropolitan newspapers, including The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Baltimore Sun, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and The Denver Post. Price won the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for spot news photography for coverage of the coup in Liberia.
For The Philadelphia Inquirer he won a 1985 Pulitzer for documenting the civil wars in Angola and El Salvador. In 2015, he and the PBS NewsHour team received an Emmy award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism.
Price has been honored by the Pictures of the Year Awards, the Overseas Press Club, the World Press Photo Awards, the Pan American Press Association and the Society of News Design. He also has participated in 13 “Day in the Life” book projects, including the acclaimed “Day in the Life of America” and “Day in the Life of Africa.”
Mike Quinn wielded enormous influence over his students and colleagues during 37 years at the UT Austin School of Journalism, the Moody College of Communication, the UT Austin administration and the UT System.
His roots were planted earlier at The Texan, when he first enrolled at UT Austin in 1953 after serving as an Army journalist during the Korean War. He was sports editor and managing editor at The Texan. After two stints with The Dallas Morning News as a recognized political and governmental reporter, he returned to UT Austin in 1966 as a professor. He also served on the former Texas Students Publication Board.
Quinn earned journalism and law degrees at UT.
He also earned the respect of students. Some rose to such jobs as publisher of the Wall Street Journal, managing editor of Businessweek and editor of the Houston Chronicle, as well as hundreds of other positions at magazines and newspapers. They helped create the J. Michael Quinn Scholarship Fund in his memory at the UT School of Journalism. John Michael Quinn Jr. died at age 76 on Jan. 22, 2006.
For almost three decades, Gayle Reaves covered stories around the world for major daily papers and then moved to the award-winning Fort Worth Weekly alternative newspaper, where she was editor from 2001 to 2015. Her honors include the Pulitzer Prize in international reporting, received in 1994 as part of a team at The Dallas Morning News, and a 1991 George Polk Award for courageous regional journalism for a series on how drug trafficking affected two Texas counties.
Reaves is now a freelance editor and reporter whose recent work has appeared in the Texas Observer and American Way magazine. She also teaches journalism at the University of North Texas and is working with co-authors on a nonfiction book called “Dividing the Baby”. Her poetry chapbook “Spectral Analysis” was published in 2015.
She is a former national president of the Journalism and Women Symposium and current vice president and a former president of the Fort Worth pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. She received a BA and BJ from UT Austin in 1973, during which time she was a Texan reporter. She also received an MJ from the University of North Texas in 2015.
Griff Singer Award
From 1988 to 2000, five nights a week, Ron Gibson served as editorial manager of The Texan, reading every word that went into it. It was his job to check for style errors, typos and libelous material, while at the same time lending his experienced voice to those learning the craft of journalism. He did it without suppressing the voices of budding student journalists, but also while managing to follow UT administration rules.
Gibson shared his love for journalism with Texan staffers, something he learned while at the University of Nebraska and as a reporter and editor for the Lincoln Journal-Star. He moved to Austin in 1968 to pursue a doctorate, and soon after joined the UT Journalism faculty. It was there that he perfected his mentoring skills.
Gibson earned the trust of Texan staffers, and also shared with them his love of life — music, sports, trivia and, most of all, puns. He died at age 68 on September 24, 2002.
Paul J. Thompson
A pioneer in the academic discipline of Journalism, Paul J. Thompson graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and joined the UT Austin School of Journalism faculty in 1919, five years after it was formed.
In 1925, however, the School became a pawn of Texas politics, when Governor Miriam “Ma” Ferguson vetoed the appropriations for Journalism and Fine Arts in the UT Austin budget. When this occurred, every member of the Journalism faculty left – except Thompson. Feeling an obligation to the students already committed to a journalism degree, and convinced that the honor of journalism education was on trial, Thompson organized and taught Journalism and Advertising Courses in the College of Business Administration.
After Ferguson was defeated in 1926, UT restored Journalism as a Department under the College of Arts and Sciences, and Thompson was named chairman. He would remain in that post until 1958. During that time, he helped integrate lab work by Journalism students in reporting and editing with the work at The Texan.
At the same time, he also made certain that editorial control of The Texan was placed in the hands of The Texan staff, separate from the Journalism Department and the university administration. Thompson also helped shape and served on the board of Texas Student Publications. By placing responsibility for the content of The Texan in the hands of the student staff, while at the same time assuring continuity and financial stability through a faculty-student board of directors, Thompson made it possible for The Texan not only to survive but to achieve greatness.
After World War II, Thompson was a national leader in establishing a national accreditation program for Journalism. Under his leadership, the UT Department of Journalism was one of the first to receive accreditation, and as a result UT raised the Department to the rank of “School of Journalism.” Thompson would serve as director until 1958, and retired as a teacher the following year. He was honored as “Mr. Journalism” with a gala on the UT campus, and The Texan published a special six-page section in his honor. He died at age 73 on May 22, 1964.
Rising Star Award
Emma Graves Fitzsimmons
Since February of 2015, Emma Graves Fitzsimmons has served as a Metro reporter for The New York Times. She covers the transit beat, which includes subways, buses, Citi Bike, taxis and “everything that moves.”
Fitzsimmons worked on The Texan and received her Bachelor of Journalism degree from UT Austin in 2006. After internships with the Galveston County Daily News, the Austin American-Statesma n and the Boston Globe , she worked as a Metro reporter for the Chicago Tribune from 2006 to 2008. Prior to her assignment to the transit beat, she worked as a freelance reporter, news assistant and breaking news reporter for The New York Times .
David A. Díaz contributed to this article.