• Old Number 7

    Junior quarterback Garrett Gilbert scans the field during the Longhorns’ win over Rice in the season opener on Sept. 3. Gilbert is out for the season after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder. (Daily Texan file photo)
    Junior quarterback Garrett Gilbert scans the field during the Longhorns’ win over Rice in the season opener on Sept. 3. Gilbert is out for the season after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder. (Daily Texan file photo)

    I guess the guy was right when he said, "Don't mess with Texas."

    But who knew he was talking about members of the Longhorns football team?

    By far the most controversial story the Texan has published so far this semester is a rather light-hearted Page One piece about No. 7 jerseys being marked down at the University Co-op after Garrett Gilbert and Nolan Brewster -- the two players to wear the number this season -- were sidelined with injuries.

    The story, which was lacking a byline because of a production error, was written by Sports editor Trey Scott and simply quoted Co-op president George H. Mitchell explaining why the jerseys were being offered at 50 percent off. 

    It also quoted a student who said he wouldn't buy the jersey, even with the discount. The story also notes that Gilbert has taken a fair amount of public criticism for the Horns lackluster season in 2010 and that sales of No. 7 jerseys have been down since then. No new ones were ordered this year.

    That's about it, folks, but the public reaction has been quite remarkable, with at least four angry "Firing Line" letters to editor published on the Texan's Opinion page, so far. The writers are uniform in criticizing the Texan for taking cheap shots at Gilbert, an unfair scapegoat.

    Here's what Scott, the Texan Sports editor has to say:

    "I understand that, after all of what Garrett's been through, people are quick to attack anybody who says anything negative about him for the sake of the kid. The point of the article, however, was that the Co-op was in a spot it has never been before, that it has to mark down jerseys that it didn't even sell last year. There are 1,000 No. 7s waiting to be sold.

    "The president of the Co-op was sad to have to put the jerseys on sale, because he feels like Garrett has taken almost all of the blame for last year's 5-7 season. But he had to do it [mark them down] because it's a business, just like Mack Brown and the co-offensive coordinators benched Gilbert for the sake of the team — that's business as well."

    I say -- get a life, people! The Texan didn't mark down the jerseys. The Co-op and Nike, the manufacturer did. The Texan noted that this is the first time this step has been taken. That's news -- and that's what we're in the business of reporting. 

    I would ask where the angry letters are about the Texan story detailing the lawsuit filed by a national fraternity organization against a renegade local chapter that alleged that exotic dancers were hired as part of an initiation ritual. Is that standard operating procedure around the Forty Acres? Is any kind of deviant behavior acceptable as long as -- god forbid -- it doesn't have a bit of harmless fun with the hallowed football program?

    The football program that has won exactly one national championship since 1970? 

    Garrett Gilbert isn't to blame for that long drought and the Texan shouldn't be blamed for simply reporting the facts.

  • Have you seen The Globe today?

    I try to share what I think are interesting developments in the media biz with you, my loyal readers.

    Of course, I assume that you all go to the Romenesko site every day for all the latest news. And some of you know things before I do, BUT, I wanted to urge you to take a look at the new site launched by my old friends and colleagues at The Boston Globe.

    It’s called bostonglobe.com, not to be confused with boston.com, the Globe’s site since 1995. The new site will have all of the Globe’s content, the old one won’t. The new site will have Web-only content that enhances Globe stories, the old one won’t. Both will have all the sports coverage of Boston teams, I believe.

    The big difference is that, starting Oct. 1, access to the new site will cost you $4 a week (well, $3.99). It’s “free” if you happen to have a subscription of any kind to the print product.

    If you have a minute, take a look around the new site and decide if you’d pay $200 a year to access it. The Globe, like every other media company around (including Texas Student Media, mothership of The Daily Texan), is trying to find ways to make more money on what it has to offer – information you won’t find anywhere else.

    Will this work? Only time will tell. But I applaud the cutting-edge effort that went in to creating the new site. Media companies have to try everything in order to survive. Let me know what you think.

  • A day to remember

    United Flight 175 from Boston heads for the south tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
    United Flight 175 from Boston heads for the south tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

    I was talking to my friend Denis O'Donnell on Thursday and the topic of Sept. 11, 2001, came up. O'Donnell, a music lover, musician and the man who keeps the bar at the Hole in the Wall humming in the afternoon, paused briefly when I asked him what he remembered about that day. 

    "I remember my then-girlfriend and now-wife and I got into a huge fight that morning," he said. "She came back to the bedroom to tell me I should get up and watch the television. I wanted to tell her to get the hell out, but I got up and saw what was happening, and that kind of ended the argument."

    Everyone has a story about what happened to them that day. Some are mundane, some are incredibly compelling. None will ever be forgotten. 

    I was at home in Milton, Mass., on my day off from working at The Boston Globe. I remember both my kids were home sick from school. My wife was upstairs. I watched the second plane hit the towers and I drove into work and was pretty much gone for the next 36 hours or so as the staff at the paper tried to get its collective head around what had happened. The planes that hit the towers came from Boston.

    I've never witnessed such intensity or emotion in a newsroom.

    Something very similar must have been happening in The Daily Texan newsroom that day 10 years ago. Thanks to the work of our Web team -- headed by Web Editor Gerald Rich and our Multimedia Adviser Jennifer Rubin -- the results of that effort by the Texan staff can be seen here. It's impressive, even 10 years on.

    Also impressive is the 10th anniversary 9/11 edition put out Friday by our current Texan staff. I particularly recommend this story as an entry point for the total package. The paper, like the one 10  years ago, shows a breadth and depth of coverage that is truly professional. I can't offer a higher compliment to Texan staffers past and present.

  • The matter is tabled

    I haven’t been around the Texan all that long, but I get the sense that in the past all we had to do to get a tidal wave of tryouts at the start of a semester was to make sure the door to the basement was unlocked.

    After all, having a key job at the Texan figure prominently on your resume was a pretty good entrée to the wild world of journalism, where the people who owned the presses seemed to print money along with papers.

    We all know how that has changed, and so has the flow of tryouts through the doors of the Texan.

    So we have to try different things to attract the interest of potential employees – and readers. Among them is the ancient art of “tabling,” which Texan staffers did Wednesday at the very popular “Party on the Plaza.”

    Thanks to assistant Texas Student Media director Jalah Goette and her team, the Texan has a table at this TSM-sponsored event to help spread the word about the good work that we do.

    I also want to thank Sports Editor Trey Scott, Photo Editor Andrew Torrey, Associate Photo Editor Ryan Edwards, Senior Photographer Thomas Allison Design Director Alexa Hart and Web Editor Gerald Rich for taking the time and making the effort to staff the table. It matters.

  • Taking to the field

    Holy smoke! It's a new semester and the start of a new era here at The Daily Texan and Texas Student Media!

    We have a new TSM Director, Gary Borders, and a new leadership team at the Texan -- Editor Viviana Aldous and Managing Editor Lena Price. We're expecting an exciting fall at the Texan as the Longhorn football team returns to the field and the campus continues to sort through the impact of budget cuts imposed by the 82nd Legislature.

    You can count on the Texan for the best coverage of all the topics of interest to the larger UT community. If you're interested in becoming part of the Texan team, stop down in the basement of the Hearst building and fill out an application. We're having tryouts through Sept. 8.

    You can count on the Talking Texan blog to keep you up to date on matters of interest to our organization's staffers and alums and people interested in media matters generally.

    For example, did you note that the Austin American-Statesman is dropping commenting on the stories appearing on its website (but not blogs)? Check it out here.

    Also of interest to media junkies everywhere is the announcement that Jim Romenesko is stepping into semi-retirement. Now what am I going to do with my spare time?

    We'll also be keeping a close eye on the Longhorn Network as it debuts and the changing curriculum at the School of Journalism

    Like I said, it should be an exciting semester!