Tarleton State University hosted a reception Thursday night to celebrate the Texas Center for Community Journalism’s move from Texas Christian University to Tarleton.
Speakers included Dr. Christopher Gearhart, department head of communication studies; Mike Hodges, executive director of the Texas Press Association; Dr. Tommy Thomason, founder for the Texas Center for Community Journalism; Dan Malone and Kathryn Jones, co-directors for the Texas Center for Community Journalism; Dr. Eric Morrow, Dean of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts; and Tarleton President Dr. James Hurley.
“When you talk journalism in Texas, you are talking community journalism,” Thomason said. “These are heroes because nobody else is doing what they’re doing. We are the only ones reporting on elections, the only ones who are covering JV football games, the only ones who take pictures of the prize-winning sheep at the 4-H auction. We are the only ones who are watching out for the town. The only center in the United States that does mid-career training of working community journalists is right here in Stephenville.”
He was also proud to hand over the center to Malone and Jones.
“We came up with five universities who were interested in [taking over the center] and when I ranked them in terms of who would I like to see get the center, Tarleton was ranked one through five,” Thomason said. “All of them had a good facility and a good place and people to work in the administration. But do you know what Tarleton had? Why is the center here? One word: Passion.
Malone and Jones are journalism instructors at Tarleton and mentor students in Texan News, a student-run news team that delivers news in online, print and magazines as well as broadcasts for the Cross Timbers region.
Malone has worked for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and The Dallas Morning News. He also received a Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for investigative reporting.
Jones has had experience writing for the New York Times, the Dallas Times Herald, the Dallas Morning News and was the former managing editor of Glen Rose Reporter.
“I was a lot happier in community journalism,” Jones said. “Yes, millions of people might read my stories, but I didn’t know any of them. I have missed community journalism so when Tommy approached us about this, I thought ‘Yay, this is great. We can make a difference again in people’s lives.’”