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]

Texas Student Media director in new, expanded role for Moody College

Gerald A. Johnson, director of Texas Student Media for the past 9 years, has accepted a new position at UT-Austin, but will still retain involvement in Texas Student Media, while adding additional duties for Moody College of Communication.

Johnson has assumed the role of Executive Director for Program and Center Innovation and Partnership for the Moody College of Communication. TSM will continue to be one of his responsibilities and he is in the process of looking for a successor in his TSM role.

Under Johnson’s leadership, The Daily Texan and TSM are expected to record its 9th consecutive annual profit at the end of the fiscal year.

“Gerald has built a solid professional team at TSM, and that team has strongly supported The Daily Texan editorial effort,  delivered a profit each year and developed new and creative ways to bring in revenue,” said John Reetz, president of Friends of The Daily Texan, Inc. “He has worked successfully with the Friends group efforts to build relationships and support from alumni.”

Reetz said Johnson’s hiring in 2014 to lead Texas Student Media in 2014 was one of three key elements that came together almost simultaneously, resulting, over time,  in a stronger, more stable financial situation for The Texan. Today, the UT student media environment is a showcase for other student media organizations at universities across the country.

Those steps in 2013-2014:

  • TSM was in serious debt in 2013 and steps were being discussed that would cut expenses and publication drastically but showed no plan for revenue growth. The Friends of The Daily Texan was created in 2013 to respond and provide input to those significant challenges facing the student paper.
  • In 2014, “supervision” of Texas Student Media and The Daily Texan was removed from UT department with no expertise in media management, and Moody College of Communication brought Texas Student Media and The Daily Texan into its arena. A key move was hiring Johnson to build and lead a new team at TSM.
  • The third critical step was a move by then UT president Bill Powers to provide back-up funding for at least three years as TSM developed and implemented plans to bring the group back to financial stability.

“Those 3 steps – reorganization and new leadership of TSM, support from the UT president and Moody College and formation of the Friends of The Daily Texan group – were the catalysts for change. The perfect storm,” Reetz said. “As a result today, the UT student media environment is a showcase for other student media organizations at universities across the country. It doesn’t mean TSM’s job is easy; hard work, creativity and sweat has gone into stabilizing the financial situation.”

Johnson’s journey in the media industry began as an editor for his high school paper. During his junior summer, he worked as a customer service representative for the Montana Standard from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m., where he quickly learned how upset subscribers can get when their paper doesn’t arrive. After completing his political science degree at the University of Montana, he ventured to Silicon Valley for an opportunity in mortgage banking. However, he soon realized that he didn’t enjoy the cold weather and the high costs of the dot-com era, prompting him to relocate to Houston without a job.

Fortunately, Gerald swiftly landed a position at the Houston Chronicle as an account executive in digital advertising, becoming part of the first specialized group dedicated to this field within the Chronicle. He excelled in his role and progressed through various leadership positions. One of Gerald’s notable skills is his ability to build teams and tackle problems. During his 16 years at the Chronicle, he collaborated with the editorial team to conceptualize and monetize niche publications. One such achievement was HoustonGives, a legacy project he initiated in 2011, which showcased the remarkable work of corporations and nonprofits in the Houston area. This annual publication, spanning 72 pages, generated over $500,000 in revenue and matched that amount with free advertising for local non-profits. In 2014, he left his role as Executive Director for Advertising at the Chronicle and brought his problem-solving skills to Texas Student Media.

As many are aware, Texas Student Media was in a precarious situation when he took over.

The organization was experiencing an annual loss of $250,000 and considering cost-cutting measures, including reducing the frequency of The Daily Texan.

He has achieved remarkable milestones at TSM:

  • Raised the professional caliber at Texas Student Media, with 15 professionals now supporting the programming.
  • Increased student participation by 40%, with over 1,100 students actively engaged each semester at TSM.
  • Enhanced student pay to over $260,000 annually.
  • Grown Texas Student Media to be one of the largest student media operations in the country.
  • Introduced revenue-generating initiatives and new student experiences, including:
    • Texas Connect, an upscale, glossy magazine in partnership with the President’s Office, catering to the 27,000 staff and faculty members.
    • Marketplace, a biannual opportunity for businesses to interact with students on campus.
    •, an apartment search platform developed by TSM for students, by students.
    • Partnerships with The Battalion, The Drag, and more.
    • Bevo Video Productions, a collaboration with Athletics and Moody that provides real-world, paid experience in game day operations, content creation, and production services for campus departments.
  • TSM is on track to achieve its ninth consecutive year of profit this September. This kind of progress is unheard of in most student media -if not regular media as well.

“I have had the privilege of working closely with Gerald and consider him a friend,” Reetz added. “Through our interactions, I’ve witnessed his exceptional problem-solving abilities, innovative thinking, and his knack for creating new revenue opportunities.

“While it may seem like a loss for TSM, the search for his replacement has already started. The new Director for TSM will report to Gerald, ensuring the preservation of sound practices and student independence that have characterized the last nine years.

“Since day one, Gerald has been a staunch supporter of our group and has played a pivotal role in our organization’s growth while successfully steering UT in the right direction.”