Author Archives: HSU Journalism

Journalism Club Prepares for Spring Events

Spring 2017 Journalism ClubJournalism Club President Morgan Brizee and Treasurer Race Blackwell gathered students in Bret Harte House today for the club’s first meeting of the semester. They planned a trip to San Francisco, organized entertainment and events for the spring banquet, discussed possible t-shirt design and a high school journalism contest and had a few laughs while eating pizza.


Scenes from Austin

Ten members of the HSU Journalism Club traveled to Austin for the College Media Convention. They spent a week in the city leading up to Halloween. Here are some of the scenes captured by club member James Towney.


Austin Conference Slideshow by Sam Armanino

This gallery contains 12 photos.

  The many views of Austin: cycling through the city, college students dressed up in Halloween costumes, street performers, homeless man and the city skyline. | Sam Armanino

Interviewing the Undead

Don't call me zombie

Allie Jones (left) is about to get doused in blood for forgetting to ask if filming and pictures were okay with the interviewee. Never forget the basics.

By Alexis Flores

With the aphorism “if you can interview a zombie, you can interview anyone alive,” Halloween night at the ACP/CMA conference took off. The scary session titled “Bleed for your media” began with an introduction to the undead. Without much indication as to what the zombies were seeking (“zombie” is a term they despised and a word HSU Journalism Club President Allie Jones would pay for) the participants were left with their pens and notepads to construct palatable questions. The interviewees were tired of the obvious questions – our challenge was to assemble all possible, less stereotypical inquiries. If the zombies thought the questions unworthy, they responded viciously.

Brainstorming, Jones and I– the brains behind the interview, according to Jones– observed other groups returning from their interviews drenched in fake blood. We critiqued our questions to ensure (living) success.

Proceeding onto the actual interview, Jones was uneasy as she tried to figure out what exactly the interviewee was seeking. Quickly she found out that the
undead was more alive than she was.

“Did you ask me if you could record?” the undead asked.

Strike one. However, like a true HSU journalism student, Jones shook off her nervousness and proceeded gracefully– for the most part.

Handling the short unresponsive responses of the interviewee, Jones made it
out alive– although the undead did ask if she could eat her at one point during the interview. With a conclusive goodbye and a lively hello to the rest of the night, the session was over: It was an experience like no other.

Keep Austin Weird

Dia de los MuertosDia de los Muertos characters on the streets of Austin. Photo by James Towney.

By James Towney

The beautiful city of Austin, Texas thrives on strange personalities. Nothing could prepare the Journalism Club for the topless woman asking for money on 6th Street or the homeless man with a sign that read “Fuck Obama and his momma,” while screaming “trademarked” and pointing at the sign. Things were weird in general. I slept on a wet hotel floor and woke up in the morning to Texas-shaped waffles. I drank bad coffee everyday, ate too much barbecue and was asked for a cigarette every time I left the hotel room. The weirdness was easy to embrace.

The reason we were in Austin was for the National College Media Convention. On Halloween morning, Cathy Conley presented a workshop called The DNA of an American Journalist: How to Survive and Thrive in a World of Deadlines, Death and Destruction. Conley is an established Austin newspaper reporter, radio personality and television newscaster. At the workshop, Conley told a crowded room how to avoid liability while maintaining credibility.

“Never trade integrity for celebrity,” Conley said. “Never in any case is it better to be first that it is to be right.”

To a young journalist, these words have a powerful meaning. Conley was the first journalist to break the news that mega-country star George Strait’s daughter died in a car accident. The Sheriff’s Office told Conley that Strait’s daughter was in a car with other teenagers and had been instantly killed. Before she spoke to the sheriff, Conley knew that it was likely to be true, but she had to treat the news as “untrue” until she had confirmation. Conley said she would rather risk getting scooped by the competition on the story than the integrity of her job.

Austin was an experience. The events that made the days weird, however, are personal memories that I will keep to myself. Keep Austin Weird.


HSU Presents the Student Press Wire

student press wireHSU journalism students Katelyn Roudebush, Sam Armanino and Jeff Gardner present the Student Press Wire at the National College Media Convention in Austin on Oct. 31. Photo by Miranda Hutchison.

HSU’s Student Press Wire staff gathered student conference participants together to explain the wire service initiated at HSU last year and expanding nationally this year. The Student Press Wire works just like a national wire service but serves university student press. You can learn more about it at


Covering the Legislature


By Miranda Hutchison

At the National College Media Convention last Friday, Alexa Garcia-Ditta, a staff reporter for Austin’s Observer, gave a presentation about covering the state legislature.

“It is your job to figure out what is missing in the coverage and give a unique perspective to it,” she said.

Garcia-Ditta said the state legislature’s job is to set the state budget. She said the journalist’s job is the ever important rule: follow the money. She also advised us  to get to know the legislative staffers well because they are the best sources and reachable if we establish a strong relationship with them.

She said at an early age she became interested in politics, geared towards covering healthcare issues. She said Texas is an exciting place to cover
such topics because reproductive health is a controversial subject.

Garcia-Ditta said writing about these issues is important because it holds the legislators accountable for the statements they make.

“Are lawmakers keeping the promises they made?” Garcia-Ditta asked.

I  cover campus politics for our HSU student newspaper, The Lumberjack, trying to bring attention to student government issues such as tuition increases. It was helpful to hear Garcia-Ditta’s perspective about coverage of other political issues. It gave me a look at what else is out there.

Listening to a Former Death Row Inmate

geneva and graves

Human rights speaker Anthony Graves talks to HSU journalism student Geneva Peppars after his keynote address.

By Geneva Peppars

Members of the HSU Journalism Club gathered at the College Media Association Convention to hear a keynote speech by Anthony Graves, a man exonerated from death row due in large part to the power of  investigative journalism. Graves spent 18 years behind bars for being falsely convicted of brutally murdering  four children, one teenager and their grandmother with no evidence. He spent 16 years in solitary confinement with 12 of those years on death row. He escaped two scheduled execution dates. Graves is the 138th person to be exonerated from death row in the U.S.  He is now serves on the Board of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty as well as being a captivating motivational speaker and an Emmy Award winner. During his speech, Graves had powerful words for the student journalists.

“Good Journalism saves lives,” he said.  “We  need journalists to tell the truth. No favoritism only fact finding .”

He emphasized the importance doing our homework and making sure to leave no rock unturned.

More Freedoms than We Know

Austin Convention Room
Austin convention room. Photo by Jeff Gardner
By Jeff Gardner

One of the most eye-opening and important presentations I attended during the CMA/ACP Conference was “The State of the First Amendment.” Hosted by Andrea Frantz from Buena Vista University, it took a look at the annual national State of the First Amendment survey. This survey has been conducted since 1997 and helps measure the general American public’s knowledge and understanding about their own rights regarding the First Amendment.

The findings for the 2014 survey are as follows: When asked to name the five specific freedoms in the First Amendment, 68% of Americans name freedom of speech, followed by 29% who say the freedom of religion, 14% mention the freedom of the press, 7% mention the right to assemble, and 1% name the right to petition.

Possibly the most surprising of all is that 29% of those surveyed said they couldn’t list ANY of the rights the First Amendment guarantees.

Maybe it’s because I’m a journalism major, or maybe it’s because I’ve taken a media law class in college, but these results are a bit shocking to me. The fact that people can’t name their rights means they can’t name when the government or others infringe upon those rights, and that’s a massive personal pitfall.

This presentation made me realize how important personal rights education is, and how in need of it we are in our culture. I’m very glad I went and am now taking steps to learn as much about my rights and the rights of others as I can. Not only for myself, but so I can inform others and, in turn, strengthen them.

Live from Austin

Ten members of the HSU Journalism Club attended the College Media Convention in Austin last week. A small group of students from different universities collaborated on a live newscast covering convention activities. HSU’s own Christian Galeno anchored the newscast.