An association for alumni and supporters of The Daily Texan

Friends of The Daily Texan

An association for alumni and supporters of The Daily Texan

Friends of The Daily Texan

An association for alumni and supporters of The Daily Texan

Friends of The Daily Texan

Contact Information
Friends of The Daily Texan, Inc.
1401 Lavaca St
Austin, TX 78701

[email protected]

Texan Life & Arts Editor Elizabeth Hlavinka pursues ‘the people aspect of journalism,’ from mental health to modern love

Daily Texan Life & Arts Editor Elizabeth Hlavinka.
Daily Texan Life & Arts Editor Elizabeth Hlavinka
Daily Texan Life & Arts Editor Elizabeth Hlavinka

Elizabeth Hlavinka worked her way up at The Texan to become editor of the Life & Arts section this fall. Daily Texan alumnus R.U. Steinberg recently talked with her to learn more about her time at the newspaper and the special projects she’s spearheaded.

How did you come to join The Texan?

I spent my first year of college at Boston College and worked for the newspaper there, The Gavel. I went to Boston to get outside Texas and try something new, but pretty quickly I realized that maybe Texas was the place for me. The weather was a little too cold, the people weren’t exactly my kind of people, and out-of-state tuition was definitely a factor. Because it’s a smaller school, they didn’t even have a journalism program, and at the time I thought I wanted to be a journalism major. UT had always been on my list of schools, so when I decided to return to Texas and go to UT, I joined The Texan because I wanted to stick with what I knew.

How did you work your way up to editor?

I started out working at the copy desk, as well as being a Life & Arts reporter. Then, I became a senior Life & Arts reporter, which meant I wrote two stories a week instead of one. This past summer, I became an associate Life & Arts editor. Then this fall, I took over the reins as editor.

Why did you choose Life & Arts?

I like telling people’s stories and was attracted to the “life” part of Life & Arts. I actually tried out for the news department as well. I’ve always been interested in writing, both creatively and journalistically. I’m an English major — not a journalism major — and because you don’t have to be a journalism major to work at The Texan, that brings in lots of different perspectives. I could tell the difference in the feeling I felt from writing feature stories — more of the people aspect of journalism.

Do any of your stories stand out as your favorite?

There are many. We do these special projects once every week or two. Toward the end of publication, we do one about every day. We cover larger topics with a package of three or four stories. Recently, we did one on mental health on campus. That stands out as one of my favorite stories that I have written. I spoke with a student who suffers from bipolar disorder and depression. I hope by getting to tell her story, our readers can relate. It’s a topic that’s not spoken of in journalism as much as it should be. We had another special project that was one of my favorites, too, where we told various love stories on campus. My story was about the experience of same-sex couples bringing home their significant other to meet their parents. Again, I think it’s something that’s not written about as often as some other things in journalism.

About how many people are on the Life & Arts team? And what do you cover?

In addition to me, there are two associate editors and about 15 staff writers. We have a couple of music writers, a couple of movie reviewers — those are beats we do a lot of content for. We also do profiles on student bands, book reviews, local museum coverage and previews to cultural events, especially around campus. Austin is a big city, so we try to focus on what the student population is interested in. We try to uncover all the potential that is on campus, and with 60,000 students, each of them has a cool story that we haven’t discovered yet.

The Texan’s Life & Arts coverage has been really good this semester. To what do you attribute your success?

I can’t take full credit. With a student newspaper, it’s kind of tricky because new people are rotating in each semester. With Life & Arts, there has been a steady progression. The special projects began during my first semester writing at The Texan. Ever since then, it has become a firm tradition. The past few editors and I have shared the same vision, which really helped to develop our section. It’s been great to carry on their legacy. They left a great platform for me to take to the next level.

What are your future plans? Are you going to stick around The Texan after your editorship ends?

You don’t have to leave after you’ve been an editor, but next semester I plan to study abroad in Barcelona through a UT exchange-student program. After that, I’m open to a lot of things. I may go on to graduate school or become a teacher. Writing for a publication would be ideal, either locally in Austin, in a different state or maybe even abroad. I hope to brush up on my Spanish in Barcelona. I just like to write. Whether journalistically or more creatively, I think I’ll find a place. When I come back to Austin, I hope to go back to working at the student radio station, KVRX, where I had a show for three semesters. This semester I had to take a little break from it because I was an editor.

What are your thoughts about working at The Texan and its future?

I think The Texan keeps getting better and better. We’re all students, and we’re trying to figure it out as we go. The fact that we’re all students makes it a community down there in the basement. Everyone is so supportive and wants what’s best for the paper. I think you can see it in the writing. Everyone cares a lot about the final product. I think that’s what sets The Daily Texan apart. And I’m happy that I got to be a part of it.

R.U. Steinberg is a writer living in Austin. By day, he works at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, ensuring that web content is accessible for people with disabilities, and he has written a weekly column, Mr. Smarty Pants Knows, in The Austin Chronicle since 1988. He worked at The Daily Texan from 1981 to 1985, as an entertainment writer, wire editor and images editor.