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]

10 selected for The Daily Texan Hall of Fame

By Griff Singer

Chairperson, Friends of The Daily Texan Hall of Fame Selection Committee

If there ever was a concern about the superb talent pool of onetime Daily Texan staffers evaporating, fear no more.

Look at the inductees for the 2021 Friends of The Daily Texan Hall of Fame and the Griff Singer Friend of The Daily Texan Award. Any concerns will vanish.

Once again, your FOTDT Board has endorsed the nominations of a stellar and diverse group of journalists and photographers — some young, some with gray or little hair. All have strong ties to The Texan. All have contributed significantly to journalism and to their communities.

The tradition of The Daily Texan super stars continues.

If COVID19,  vaccines and the UT Austin administration cooperate, inductees will be honored in real life on Friday, April 8, 2022, at our annual Friends Dinner in the Student  Union Ballroom on campus. And you are encouraged to join us. SAVE THE DATE.

The 2021 Hall of Fame Inductees:

A dedicated and talented group of honorees with an almost unbelievable range of experiences – locally to globally – comprise the 2021 Daily Texan Hall of Fame class.

Consider these outstanding honorees:

√ A talented decades-long AP reporter and economics expert who has covered 13 Treasury secretaries and five chairs of the Federal Reserve, including all 18 years of Alan Greenspan’s tenure. And has covered the administrations of eight presidents from Jimmy Carter to Joe Biden. He reported from all over the world including 18 consecutive Group of Seven leaders’ summits where world leaders would gather each year to seek solutions to global economic developments such as the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.His economic coverage along with that of his AP colleagues won two reporting awards, one for covering the October 1987 stock market crash and the other for covering the 2008 financial crisis.

√ A dedicated journalist/entrepreneur whose journalism career started at age 14 on his hometown newspaper in the piney woods of East Texas, and former Texan managing editor. His resume leaves you wondering what more could a person accomplish in a lifetime, from leading both editorial and building-wide operations for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in the city that hosted the 1996 Summer Olympics and continuing today assisting media companies transition to the digital future. To Daily Texan followers, he’s done even bigger things: Help save The Daily Texan and continue to see that the institution remains healthy while continuing to bond Texan alums as an effective organization.

√ Yet another Hall of Famer who dedicated his career to community journalism farther south down the Texas coast, succeeding as editor and publisher of his family newspaper, fighting for across the board improvement for his community,  especially in education, libraries and health care for Nueces County near Corpus Christi. But his compadres on The Daily Texan in the early 1960s will remember him as a hero, an amazing managing editor who stood jaw to jaw literally with a then super regent (an outspoken enemy of The Daily Texan) and got him to release paychecks that the regent had ordered withheld.

√ Another former Texan managing editor left Austin in 2001 with a BJ-Plan II degree and headed for Washington, D.C. She snagged an internship at The Washington  — and never left. Earlier this year, she was named the first African American managing editor of The Washington Post,  responsible for diversity and inclusion.

√ A onetime Texan photographer who has recorded news images in 65 countries on six continents. He has received so many awards in 17 years of often dangerous work that he needs an 18-wheeler to haul his trophies and plaques, including a 2005 Pulitzer for Breaking News Photography.

√ If you are looking for the expert on Texas politics, look no farther than another former Texan editor who continues to write a syndicated political column for Texas newspapers. He also is among the rarest among Texan editors: He earned his MA while Texan editor and holds a record: directing a Texan Extra in 1963 following the assassination of John Kennedy.

Here they come: Three Rising Stars

Our first Rising Star overcame great odds to achieve success. As a Mexican immigrant, she’s spoken openly about the challenges her family faced, including living in poverty and changing her name when moving to the U.S. in fear of not fitting in. Well, she fit in, changing from as a highly successful reporter on The Daily Texan. Now, at age 27, she is an award-winning reporter for The Dallas Morning News, covering one of the most scrutinized police departments in the nation.

√ While at The Daily Texan, Rising Star No. 2 helped create The Texan’s SEO strategy and oversaw digital strategy. She became a culture writer and was awarded the prestigious National Arts and Entertainment Journalism award f or Best Feature in 2015.Now based in Washington, D.C., she is co-owner of a sports blog and media company At age 30, she recently published her debut novel, God Spare the Girls.

Rising Star No. 3 never thought she would win a journalism award. Even when she got an email saying she was a finalist for a National Association of Hispanic Journalists Ñ award. What she did was write about a DACA student who dropped out of college, fearing she would be unable to go back to her hometown of Brownsville, Texas when her DACA permit expired. Because of that story for The Daily Texan and her work in so many areas of journalism as a student intern and beyond, in NPR and now as a reporter for the Austin American-Statesman, she’s the third Rising Star Awardee.


The Griff Singer Friend of The Daily Texan Award

√ This award could be renamed the “Givers Award,“ because it recognizes individuals who volunteer and maintain an interest in the wellbeing and success of the student staffs of The Daily Texan and other Texas Student Media. Our recipient has been a giver to many journalist organizations, generously giving of his time and expertise to help students aspiring to be journalists.

His generosity — in teaching and mentoring — has ranged far and wide, from Houston to Austin (and UT, where he worked on The Daily Texan and earned his BJ), and on a national scale. He was not only a giver, but a trend setter: The first minority reporter for a major East Texas daily, the first minority to write a music column at a major North Texas daily, the first minority to become assistant managing editor for news production and world news at the Houston Chronicle. Now retired, he’s now giving to  theater goers as a playwright.


The awards are sponsored annually by the Friends of The Daily Texan, a nonprofit group established in 2013 to support journalistic quality and a strong future in a digital world for The Daily Texan, student newspaper at the University of Texas at Austin.

Funds raised by the Friends group are used to support The Texan’s needs and coverage, plus scholarships  for The Daily Texan staff members each year.

Below you will find full detail on all honorees; please take the time to read the full report on their contributions to journalism and The Daily Texan.


Headshot of Martin Crutsinger

Martin Crutsinger

Marty Crutsinger was born and grew up in San Saba, Texas, which he always points out is known as the Pecan Capital of the World.

He earned a government degree from the University of Texas in 1971 which came in handy since he spent the next 50 years covering government at all levels. He started reporting on local government in Jacksonville, Fla., for the Jacksonville Journal right after graduation. He joined The Associated Press in Miami in 1973 and was transferred to Tallahassee to cover state government in 1975.

He  transferred to the AP’s Washington bureau in 1978 where he has covered the administrations of eight presidents from Jimmy Carter to Joe Biden.

For 37 of those years in Washington, Marty has covered economics, where he got the chance to write about 13 Treasury secretaries and five chairs of the Federal Reserve, including all 18 years of Alan Greenspan’s tenure.

Obama’s first Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, joked that he was still in middle school when Marty started reporting out of the Treasury press room. But Geithner said once he got to meet Marty he came to regard his reporting as “far and clear and tough.”

Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen, the two officials who followed Greenspan as Fed chairs, wrote, “Through the years, your byline in newspapers across the country and around the world has become synonymous with lucid and insightful writing on a broad array of economic and financial topics.”

For nearly two decades, Marty was the AP’s chief economics writer in Washington, which made him one of the AP’s most recognizable by-lines.  In addition to Treasury and the Fed, Marty wrote about the flood of economic reports the government issues each month, seeking to make dry government statistics relevant to people’s pocketbook concerns.

Marty reported from all over the world including doing 18 consecutive Group of Seven leaders’ summits where world leaders would gather each year to seek solutions to global economic developments such as the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.

His economic coverage along with that of his AP colleagues won two reporting awards, one for covering the October 1987 stock market crash and the other for covering the 2008 financial crisis. During the 2008 crisis, Marty spent many weekends working out of the Treasury Department press room as the government dealt with one crisis after another, from taking over mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

In an AP history, Marty was cited for his work on the day of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks when he wrote, “The terror attacks in the U.S. business and government capitals may well push the teetering economy into recession, analysts suggested. The Federal Reserve said it stood ready to pump extra money into the economy if needed to try to avert such a development.” The 9-11 attacks did help trigger a downturn, ending what had been the country’s longest economic expansion up to that time.

While Marty spent most of his time writing about the economy, he covered a number of other events during his long AP career from cruise ship fires and plane crashes while in Miami to Ted Bundy’s murderous attack at an FSU sorority house in Tallahassee. In Washington, Marty  was among a legion of AP reporters covering the 1981 assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan and the 1982 Air Florida crash.

Marty was the first to report a very bad attempt at a joke by James Watt, Ronald Reagan’s first Interior secretary. Marty showed up to cover what he thought would be a routine speech at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast where Watt decided to describe a commission he had appointed to investigate his handling of coal leases on government land by saying, “I have a black, a woman, two Jews and a cripple. And we have talent.”

Watt, who had taken the lead in scaling back environmental protections under Reagan, was out of the Cabinet a few days later.

For his coverage of Watt and other environmental battles during the Reagan years, Marty was awarded the national achievement award in journalism by the National Wildlife Federation in 1983, an honor he shares with another Daily Texan hall of fame winner, Walter Cronkite.


Black and white headshot of Sam Keach

Sam Fore Keach
The World has had its heroes, heralded and unheralded:

David vs. Goliath.

Superman vs. Lex Luthor.

Batman vs. The Joker.

Sam Keach vs. Frank C. Erwin Jr.

Sam who?

Yes, Sam Fore Keach, better known as an exemplary community newspaper editor and publisher in Robstown, Nueces County, near Corpus Christi.

Sam, who died on April 24, 2020,  literally grew up in the family newspaper business, starting as a “printer’s devil” and photographer at age 12. And he made a lasting mark as a Texan managing editor in the 1960s.

After graduating from Robstown High School, he made his way to The University of Texas at Austin. He quickly made his talents known on The Daily Texan staff while earning his degree in journalism.

He worked on sports at The Texan, covering some of Darrell K. Royal’s greatest moments with the Longhorns on the gridiron and in the locker room. Funny, Sam has a son named Darrell.

But that was not enough. Sam made his way to the non-political top of The Texan and was appointed  managing editor. In that role, he soon found out how much responsibility it entailed. A big shoulders’ job for someone still not legally an adult.

It comes as no surprise to many that The Texan editorials (and even news coverage) rankled Frank C. Erwin, a regent who considered himself the final word on all things UT Austin — policy, business, curriculum, sports — you name it.

In 1966, the bellicose Erwin became so angry that he ordered the UT Austin Accounting Office to stop issuance of pay checks to the entire Texan student staff, primarily because of critical editorials.

(If such a tactic sounds familiar, that’s what Gov. Greg Abbott did to the staffs of Texas legislators, regardless of party affiliation, with a line-item veto after Democrat representatives broke quorum during the waning days of the 2021 Legislature. Their action thwarted passage of Republican-sponsored bills to revise state voting laws.)

As the Erwin-Keach story goes, Keach spent many days working through channels to get the checks released. Nothing worked.

So the kid from South Texas decided to make one last stand on behalf of his fellow Texan staffers: Meet Erwin head on.

Keach attempted to make an appointment with Erwin. No luck, Erwin’s secretary told Sam his calendar was full. Sam would not be deterred.

Keach decided to go directly to Erwin’s downtown office. Sam walked in and asked if Erwin was there. The secretary said he was, but he did not have time to see Sam.

Sam said he would wait. And wait, and wait he did.

Realizing Sam was not leaving, Erwin’s secretary got  him in to see the man who drove an orange Cadillac.

Sam, recounted the story:

“Look, Mr. Erwin. You are upset over the critical editorials. I get that. But those of us on the news staff have no say, nothing to do with those editorials.

“You are penalizing all of us. To you, those little checks may not mean much. To us, it means paying rent and buying food. We need that money now.”

Erwin relented.

The next day, checks arrived at the Texan office. Sam stood down Frank Erwin.

At 21 with his BJ in hand, Keach was named managing editor of The Edinburg Daily Review. Then he returned to the family’s Robstown newspaper in 1967. He was one of four generations of his family to serve as president of the South Texas Press Association. He authored the book “A Family Affair – the First 75 years of the South Texas Press Association,” published in 2002. He served as the association’s historian until his death.

His community service included scoutmaster of Robstown’s Boy Scout Troop 184 where both of Vicki’s and his sons earned the Eagle Scout Award. In 1983, he was scoutmaster of the South Texas troop to the World Jamboree in Canada. He was Wood Badge trained, a vigil member of the Order of the Arrow and was awarded the Silver Beaver Award.

He also served on the boards of Nueces County Memorial Hospital, Northwest Regional Hospital, Robstown Area Historical Museum, Robstown Economic Development Commission and the Bank of Robstown.

He was also a driving force in the development of the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds.
The Nueces County Keach Family Library was named in honor of him and his family’s 80 years in journalism, informing the public, and encouraging the continuation of education of youth in the area.


Headshot of Dave McNeely

Dave McNeely

Dave McNeely began reporting on Texas politics and government in 1962, as a political reporter and later editor of The University of Texas student newspaper.

In the years since, with breaks for a Congressional Fellowship in Washington, and a Nieman Fellowship for journalists at Harvard, he has covered most legislative sessions and Texas elections. After working got the Houston Chronicle, the Dallas News, and KERA public radio and television in Dallas, for more than 26 years he wrote a column on Texas politics and government for the Austin American-Statesman. He retired from the American-Statesman at the end of 2004, but continues to write a weekly column for several other Texas newspapers.

McNeely holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s degree in government, both from The University of Texas at Austin. McNeely’s master’s thesis in government was on the 1964 U.S. Senate race that George Bush lost to Sen. Ralph W. Yarborough. McNeely first interviewed George W. Bush in 1978, when Bush was running for Congress.

An expert on Texas politics when he joined the Austin American-Statesman in 1978, McNeely eventually became  the dean of the Texas Capitol press corps.

McNeely co-taught a course at The University of Texas on “The Press and Politics” — first with Paul Begala, a consultant who with James Carville ran Bill Clinton’s 1992 race, and then with Karl Rove, chief political adviser to George W. Bush as governor, and later as President. McNeely more recently has taught the course by himself.

McNeely co-authored with Jim Henderson a book entitled “Bob Bullock: God Bless Texas” about the most powerful lieutenant governor in Texas history. It was published by the University of Texas Press in 2008.

McNeely was married to the late Carole Kneeland, an award-winning TV news reporter for Dallas and Houston TV stations, and later news director for KVUE-TV in Austin. Carole died of breast cancer in January of 1998. McNeely is on the board of The Carole Kneeland Project for Responsible Journalism founded in her name, which hosts seminars in Austin and elsewhere around the country for local TV news executives, to expose them to Carole’s unique, respectful style of newsroom management.

McNeely in late 2003 married Kathryn Longley, a Methodist pastor in Austin. Between them they have five children, 10 grandchildren, and two twin great-granddaughters.

McNeely was born on June 12, 1940.


Black and white headshot of John Moore 

John Moore

Pulitzer prize-winning photojournalist John Moore is a special correspondent for Getty Images. In 2019 he was honored with the World Press Photo of the Year for his iconic image “Crying Girl on the Border.”

Moore has worked for Getty Images for the last 16 years and has photographed in 70 countries on six continents. He previously worked for the Associated Press and was posted internationally for 17 years, first to Nicaragua, then India, South Africa, Mexico, Egypt and Pakistan. After returning to live in the United States he began a more than decade-long project on immigration and border security issues.

In 2018 powerHouse Books published his book Undocumented: Immigration and the Militarization of the United States-Mexico Border. His comprehensive and nuanced approach puts a human face on all sides of one America’s most significant issues.

His photography of the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic in the United States produced powerful yet sensitive photo reportage of this singular global news event of our time.

Moore has received top honors throughout his career, including the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography, five World Press Photo awards, the Robert Capa Gold Medal from the Overseas Press Club, Photographer of the Year from Pictures of the Year International, the NPPA and Sony World Photography Organization for his Ebola work. In 2018 he was given the inaugural Impact Award by the Lucie Foundation and in 2019 he received the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. Moore is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied Radio-Television-Film. At UT he worked for The Daily Texan and Cactus as a staff photographer and photo editor for a total of 11 semesters. He lives with his family in Stamford, Connecticut.


Headshot of Krissah Thompson

Krissah Thompson

Krissah Thompson is The Washington Post’s first Managing Editor of diversity and inclusion.

She is the first Black woman to hold the Managing Editor title at the organization and oversees coverage of Features, Climate and newsroom recruiting.

She began her career at The Washington Post in 2001 and has held multiple roles including intern, Business reporter, covering presidential campaigns and writing about civil rights and race.

Before becoming an editor in the Style section, she covered the first lady’s office, politics and culture.

She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin School of Journalism and College of Liberal Arts Plan II honors program.

She also earned a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.


Headshot of John Reetz

John Reetz                                                                                                                                

John Reetz’s career began at age 14 at his hometown weekly and expanded significantly at The Daily Texan, leading to a career focused on core reporting and copy desk advocacy, newsroom management, innovative use of newsroom technology, then leadership of a full-service digital team delivering support, technology and all aspects  all digital assets for 40-plus newspapers.

Today he manages a consulting firm that helps media companies transition to a successful and profitable digital future, both in the U.S. and internationally.

And he doesn’t bring it up, but Reetz was instrumental — and continues to lead — the Friends of The Daily Texan, which brought and influenced financial aid to The Texan and positive ties to the university itself after a UT Austin staff management fiasco.

During his career, he led two key areas  for Cox Newspapers and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: (1.) An aggressive, leading-edge approach to providing digital publishing tools for print publishing to the newsrooms of the company; (2.) As newspapers ventured into the Internet, his full-service digital team-built tools and software and provided support and infrastructure to give Cox papers an early boost in reaching for new digital-only readers.

His work on leading-edge newsroom technology, recognizing and supporting copy desks and lessons learned from supervising a massive Olympics editorial structure  took him to speaking engagements in The Netherlands, Spain, England, Ireland, Australia, Norway and across the U.S.

Reetz’s career started at age 14, writing sports, taking photos and working in the backshop of his hometown weekly newspaper in East Texas. He worked there through high school, and several summers while at UT, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism degree, with minors in psychology and Russian, and served two terms as managing editor of The Daily Texan.

From UT, he joined the Savannah Morning News as a reporter, with his most significant story an undercover investigation of the thriving massage parlor businesses in the coastal city. He later became City Editor, and in off-time was friends with several key figures in ”Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”

A move to Atlanta came next, joining The Atlanta Journal, the afternoon paper, where he covered environment and transportation issues, high-profile crime, politics and state and metro Atlanta government.

He traveled the state, covering “revenooers” trekking the backwoods of the North Georgia mountains to seek stills, to the Okefenokee Swamp and coastal islands to report on environmental issues, back to Savannah where he wrote about historic preservation efforts, and once rented a 350 person-capacity stern-wheeler paddleboat so he and a photographer could avoid security and get close to a controversial liquefied natural gas plant being built on the Savannah River. A key reporting focus was the Stocking Strangler, who brutally assaulted and killed seven elderly women in a multi-year crime spree in Columbus, Ga., putting the residents in fear and ripping the community apart.

Burned out by the sensitivities and nature of the Stocking Strangler case and the grief of the families and bored by what would be his last out of-town high profile assignment – a derailed chemical car train that he watched for a week in the Florida Panhandle, yet it never blew up — he decided to fulfill the dream of owning his own paper.

He first jumped into a job running The Record-Courier in Lyndon Johnson’s hometown of Johnson City, visiting with Lady Bird Johnson who stopped by on occasion, and several days a week having a beer at the next-door Friendly Bar, where ancient old-timers talked of LBJ coming to the bar’s back door to collect a nickel for each returned soda bottle. His first two paychecks — less than half of what he was making in Atlanta – bounced, and he sweat in the 100-plus degree rear parking lot to mix his D-76 to develop film since the office didn’t have hot water.

But he found a paper to purchase, a failing weekly in Southeast Texas, and turned it – The East Texas News —  around in the four years of ownership, doubling circulation and revenue, before selling it to one of his employees.

From there, he moved to the Great Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina where he ran the news side of a tri-weekly, managing a small staff and writing stories of special interest about the environment and history of the Smoky Mountains.

Though he mostly managed the news team, he occasionally wrote, interviewing a veteran snake handler who crossed the Tennessee mountains to flaunt the law against snake handling in North Carolina. After the story, the local sheriff decided to break up the next service where snakes were handled and was bitten by several rattlesnakes and almost died. Three weeks later the snake handler himself was dead of bites during a service.

Reetz also roamed the Western North Carolina mountains and Great Smoky Mountain National Park, many times deep into the mountains and valleys with a naturalist/retired professor friend, interviewing old-time mountain folk, and other descendants of those driven from their Cataloochee Valley homes when the park was created.

He returned to daily journalism at the Gwinnett Daily News outside Atlanta, just a few months before The New York Times bought the 100-year-old-plus paper, initiating an old-style newspaper war between The Daily News and his former workplace, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Cox Enterprises. As managing editor, John and the executive editor spent a great deal of time in the New York Times board room in the West 43rd Street building with the NYT management team and owners. For the five years of NYT ownership the Daily News staff turned the paper into the fastest growing newspaper in the country – from 16,000 to 56,000 circulation. No longer did the AJC automatically sweep awards in state contests; it became a battle there, also. Ultimately, a leadership change at the very top of the NYT company played a key role in closing the paper, selling the assets to the AJC’s parent company, Cox.

He returned to his early roots at the AJC, where he managed ground-breaking approaches to support copy editing and design and spoke at the inaugural gathering of a group that came to be known as ACES — the American Copy Editors Society. He pulled all copy editors at the AJC under a single management structure to better reward them and focus on their work but left them still stationed in the content departments to provide cohesiveness with department editors. It led to expanded and better training, a more clear and vocal voice in support of copy editors, improved editing for the paper and sent a clear message that the copy and design desks were just as valuable as sports, news, features and other departments.

As the 1996 Atlanta Olympics approached, he took on multiple roles for the AJC and Cox: heading the company-wide Olympics Operational Committee to sort out every detail of publication during the games: deadlines and pressruns to t-shirt designs to disaster recovery plans; managing the newsroom’s production, copy editing, design and operational aspects of publishing multiple daily Olympics and non-Olympics papers, magazines and photo papers; and putting together and coordinating a team of 100 loaners brought in from Cox papers who worked in Atlanta on Olympics products.

After the Games, he formed a small group – COXnet – to build on sharing of pages with Cox papers during the Olympics. COXnet’s content sharing role grew quickly, growing into a focus on working with the company’s software vendors to be aggressive in using technology for the benefit of the newsroom, building a Wide Area Network to tie the Cox newsrooms together, creating and testing company-wide disaster recovery plans and creating an atmosphere of collaboration that opened up mobility and hiring between the different Cox newsrooms. He managed the company’s transition from mainframe publishing to desktop publishing.

Reetz’s COXnet group provided guidance, technology and support for its 40-plus websites. The small team quickly grew to a 150-person COXnet unit that  provided the web infrastructure, hosting, core content, marketing support, metrics data, ad creative, product development, quality assurance and technological resources to support all Cox papers and billions of pageviews monthly.

Later in his career he built a consulting business that helps media clients make a successful transition to digital. That client list includes WebMD, The New York Times Company, The Canadian Press, Tap Analytics, Digital First Media, ClickFuel, Crowdynews, Digital Sherpa, Gatehouse Media, Gannett, Network Communications, Inc. and several companies publishing about 850 newspapers, large and small. His favorite international client was Crowdynews, where he worked six years traveling frequently to The Netherlands to help develop and enhance an automated social media search tool that delivered fresh local content to 500 U.S. newspapers. His favorite U.S. – and first client – was WebMD, where he helped on content syndication issues and handled a wide variety of projects.

He regularly is in contact with former Daily Texan staffers who work in journalism across America. On his office desk, he uses a paperweight of a hot-metal type box which daily proclaimed The Texan’s independent status on the editorial page of The Texan through 1971, when Texas Student Publications (TSP), Inc. passed into history.


Headshot of Fernando Dovalina

Griff Singer Award

Fernando Dovalina Jr.

You surely can call Fernando Dovalina Jr. a trend setter, a pioneer in Texas journalism — a giver to the profession in so many ways, including The Daily Texan, the launch pad for his distinguished career.

Although Dovalina spent most of his 37-year career in newspapers as an editor and newsroom supervisor, he began his career as a reporter and continued writing while he was an editor.

While at UT during the early 1960s, the native of Laredo worked on The Daily Texan in several reporting roles. But the Texan staff box daily reflected he was a night reporter. After graduating from UT with a journalism degree in 1963, he landed a job as a police and general assignments reporter for the Beaumont Enterprise. He moved on to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, where assignments included writing a record review column. (By the way, he has a not-so-secret love affair with Rosemary Clooney, a songstress of his young days. His collection of her records and sheet music bearing her photo is like At the Houston Chronicle, his feature story, “Dad Was a Baseball Player” won a United Press International regional first place in feature writing.

He was a pioneer among Mexican-American journalists in Texas, becoming the first racial minority to write for the Beaumont Enterprise, the first racial minority to be an editor and have a regularly appearing column at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the first racial minority to be an editor and become a newsroom supervisor at the Houston Chronicle, where he was an assistant managing editor in charge of the national news and international desks.

And he did much more. Working to improve the profession of journalism through numerous venues. He helped organize the nationally respected group called ACES (American Copy Editors Society), served on the board of the Dow Jones News Fund (unquestionably the best journalism intern program in the United States); and helped organize the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (along with UT’s Maggie Rodriguez and former Texan staffer Sylvia Moreno); and for years served on the faculty of the esteemed Bob Maynard Institute Editing Program for Minority Journalists at the University of Arizona.

There’s more.

Dovalina has given back to his university and to his Daily Texan.

For many years, he was a member of the Moody College of Communication Advisory Council. He was a frequent guest lecturer in editing and reporting classes in the School of Journalism and Media and appeared for many years as a lecturer for the Dow Jones News Fund-UT Center for Editing Excellence Intern Program.

He also was a frequent visitor to the newsroom of The Daily Texan, participating in workshops to help staffers hone skills and discuss news ethics problems often encountered by fledgling journalists. He came by that well, also serving as the “conscience minder” for his own Houston Chronicle newsroom.

For several years, Dovalina also traveled once a month from Houston to Austin for meetings of the Texas Student Media Board, where he filled the important role of offering the advice of a seasoned professional.

Dovalina did not find the nearest rocking chair when retiring.
He found a new calling as a playwright. His plays have been seen in five states. He is best known

for having written the book for the musical “The Gospel According to Tammy Faye.”
About 30 of his plays, produced by Houston companies, have been seen by Houston audiences.

He also created the Driscoll Street Salon Theatre, which stages readings of his own plays and those of his fellow Houston playwrights at his home.

As noted in the beginning, Fernando Dovalina has been a pioneer and a giver.


Headshot of Cassandra Jaramillo

Rising Star Awards

Cassandra Jaramillo

Cassandra Jaramillo reports on the Dallas Police Department and criminal justice for The Dallas Morning News. She’s been with The News since 2016 and is a graduate of the Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin. She’s covered natural disasters, the 2019 El Paso Massacre and the George Floyd protests during the summer of 2020. She has also broken several stories on police misconduct for The News.

Cassandra Jaramillo, once a dweller of The Daily Texan basement, has risen in recent years to become a leading reporter at The Dallas Morning News.

Ms. Jaramillo, 27, covers law enforcement at the paper, which includes the Dallas Police Department, one of the nation’s largest and most followed police agencies. Ms. Jaramillo has broken news on local issues ranging from a Swastika found in downtown Dallas to a Dallas Police officer being charged with murder. She’s also led coverage during major news events such as the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso in 2019. The paper this year named her breaking news reporter of the year. Ms. Jaramillo also regularly appears on Dallas’ local NBC station to discuss her reporting, and she has amassed a Twitter audience of roughly 10,000 followers.

Ms. Jaramillo joined the News in 2016 as a life and arts reporter after graduating from the University of Texas. Her work has also appeared in The Wall Street Journal and Austin American-Statesman.

In her final semester at UT, Ms. Jaramilllo joined the Texan after a long stint in broadcast journalism. She covered the UT administration and major campus news, including the killing of Haruka Weiser. Ms. Jaramillo wrote that year that while she had enjoyed broadcast news, “there’s nothing that made me more proud than when I would walk by an orange Daily Texan newsstand and see my byline from a few feet away.”

Ms. Jaramillo has overcome great odds to achieve her success. As a Mexican immigrant, she’s spoken openly about the challenges her family faced, including living in poverty and changing her name when they moved to the U.S. in fear of not fitting in.

Ms. Jaramillo’s perseverance, dedication to her craft and triumphs make her a deserved candidate for the Rising Star award.


Portrait of Kelsey McKinney

Kelsey McKinney

Kelsey McKinney is a writer and cofounder of Defector Media.

She previously worked as a staff writer at Vox, Fusion, and Deadspin.

Her writing has appeared in the New York TimesGQCosmopolitan, New York magazine, Vanity Fair, The Village Voice and Fader.

McKinney, 30, was a life and arts section editor and the associate managing editor for The Daily Texan from August.2012 to December 2013, where she helped create the paper’s SEO strategy and a back-end development team. She also oversaw digital strategy at the Texan.

After her time in the Texan basement, she became a culture writer for Vox Media in 2014 and later wrote for Fusion and Deadspin.

At Fusion, she won the prestigious National Arts and Entertainment Journalism award for Best Feature in 2015.

Now, McKinney is a reporter and writer in Washington, D.C., where she is co-owner of Defector Media, a sports blog and media company.

Her first novel, God Spare the Girls was released in June 2021.  The novel is a story of two sisters in Texas who discover an unsettling secret about their father, a celebrity evangelical megachurch pastor.

Kelsey now lives in Washington, DC, with her husband and dog.


Headshot of Maria Mendez

María Méndez

María Méndez reports on K-12 education for the Austin American-Statesman. Previously, she covered border and business issues for Texas Public Radio.

She also completed fellowships with The Dallas Morning News and Texas Tribune. She started her career at The Daily Texan, where she was a news reporter and worked on initiatives to foster more diversity and inclusion.

The following is from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists:


Winning the 2018 Ñ: Maria Mendez

By Adamari González-Carlos

Maria Mendez never thought she would win a journalism award. Even when she got an email saying she was a finalist for an NAHJ award, she didn’t realize how big of a deal it was.

It wasn’t until she had won an Ñ Award in the Latino Issues Student Print/Online Journalism category that she thought: “I guess I have a right to be here, I guess I did something that’s worthy of an award.”

What she did was write a piece about a DACA student who left the university she attended because of fear of not being able to go back to her hometown of Brownsville, Texas when her DACA permit expired. Mendez traveled to Brownsville to write the student’s story.

“The biggest thing that I learned is how to offer yourself as a tool to people to tell their story,” said Mendez, a student at University of Texas-Austin, “in a way that is not intrusive.”

The list of accomplishments for Maria Mendez at such a young age is impeccable, making her worthy for the Friends of The Daily Texan Rising Star award. Her selection of the NAHJ honor was just the start of a record of service to journalism and her community as a whole for this native of Guanajuato in Central Mexico.

While a senior majoring in journalism and sociology at UT Austin, Mendez served as an audience engagement fellow for the 86th Texas Legislative Session. She continued extensive work at The Daily Texan and also developed a Spanish-language news aggregation service. Previously, as an intern, she reported for the Austin American- Statesman’s breaking news desk and the Austin Chronicle’s news department.

It is clear that she has taken advantage of every opportunity possible to expand her knowledge base and develop as a professional journalist.

K-12 reporter, Austin Metro Area, The Austin American-Statesman
, April-present.

This is an assignment normally handled by more mature reporters, but the American- Statesman has trusted her to do the job. Considering the challenges with COVID19, this is one of the most important beats on any newspaper.

Texas Public Radio reporter, San Antonio

Reported for Texas Public Radio from the border city of Laredo, covering business issues.

The Dallas Morning News — Politics Reporting Fellow, September 2019 – May 2020, Austin, Texas

Austin American-Statesman — Breaking News Intern, June -August 2019

The Daily Texan (2 years on staff) — Projects reporter, Diversity Board member, Associate Projects Editor, Diversity Coordinator, Senior reporter (covering higher education), News general reporter

Texas Tribune — Audience Engagement Fellow, January-May 2019

Austin American-Statesman — Breaking News Intern, August- December 2018

NPR (KUT, Austin member station) Next Generation Radio Trainee, August 2017

The Austin Chronicle — News Intern, May-August 2017

Harry Ransom Center, UT Austin — Marketing and external affairs assistant, September 2016-August 2017.

Lozano Long Latin American Studies- Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, UT Austin — September 2016-May 2017 — Collection development and public services intern.

Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life, UT Austin — Social media ambassador, October 2016.

Education — The University of Texas at Austin, Bachelor of Journalism, Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, 2015-2019.

The Project — UT’s Largest Day of Service, outreach coordinator, 2016-2017

National Association of Hispanic Journalists, treasurer, UT Austin student chapter. Treasurer

English as a Second Language for Adults — volunteer coordinator, Hendrickson High School, January 2014-June 2015.


The Beat of Oaxaca’s Dancing — A short documentary about a local baile Folklorico, traditional Mexican dancing, children’s performance group in Austin, Texas, November 2016.

Viva La Huelga A short documentary about the 1966 United Farm Workers march in Texas and the commemorating anniversary march in Austin, September 2016.

Latins in Literature and Media — A 15-minute podcast examines how Latinas are portrayed in literature and media in the past and present. December 2015

2018 Ñ Award for student online/print reporting,
National Association of Hispanic

Journalists, July 2018
Scott Lind Excellence in Journalism Scholarship, The Daily Texan, January 2018 2016 Writing Flag Award, University of Texas at Austin, March 2017