Felt like 1979 to 1983 again during my weekend trek to Texas A&M, where I joined fellow alumni and current staff members of The Battalion newspaper to celebrate its 125 years as a font of bond- and experience-building for Aggie student journalists. (see what I did there? lol) I don’t get to hear howdys and whoops in the newsroom at The Dallas Morning News, where the Aggie count currently stands at 3 (Loyd Brumfield, John Lose and me … 4 if you count Kevin Lueb, who attended TAMU for like 6 years but graduated from Sam Houston). So being in the midst of over 300 grads and students at Saturday night’s gala, and seeing so many Ags while walking/driving through campus, was like being with family all over again.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I spent time in The Batt newsroom Sunday afternoon before leaving College Station. I had no idea it would be so enriching and touching for me. The newsroom’s now in the basement of the Memorial Student Center in a pretty cramped space, compared to where we produced the Batt in the old Reed McDonald Building all those years ago. I walked in, not expecting much of anyone to be around. I’d really just hoped to get a few copies of the 125th-anniversary special edition (like a doofus, I left the 4 copies I’d picked up at the gala sitting on a table at the MSC hotel bar when we left at 2 that morning).
Seven student staffers were engaged in a planning meeting and I felt awful for interrupting. But Editor-in-Chief Megan Rodriguez ’19, Managing Editor Luke Henkhaus ’20 and Photo Chief Cassie Stricker ’19 were kind enough to walk over and chat with me for a few minutes. In the photo below, that’s dark-haired Megan facing the camera, with Luke next to her and Cassie in green across from Luke. They’d heard enough at the gala from speakers exhorting them to follow their dreams and not give up on a struggling newspaper industry, but I tried to offer a few words of support, too. Megan has a post-graduation summer reporting internship lined up at her hometown San Antonio Express-News, and I could hear the excitement in her voice (she said she’d applied for internships at The DMN, but …). I gave them my name and email, and encouraged them to contact me anytime.
After they returned to their meeting, I spent a while walking around the newsroom, taking a few pics and checking out displays of past issues, including those from George H.W. Bush’s passing and his funeral, which Batt staffers covered as well and as thoroughly as any newspaper you’ll find. As I was leaving, I picked up a few editions — including those GHWB papers — among stacks that lay on a table by the door for the taking.
I won’t say being in the present-day Batt newsroom gave me chills. But it definitely built in me a sense of pride in the young women and men still coming through the TAMU journalism program and getting so much invaluable experience. And, as you can see in the photo with the #SaveStudentNewsrooms banner, they’ve also learned to fight for survival — just as many of them will start doing when they walk through the doors of their first newspaper gigs as A&M graduates.
May you all live long and prosper, Aggie journalists.