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Introducing Texas Better Newspaper Contest 2.0 The 2013 Texas Better Newspaper Contest opens Feb. 11 at and closes March 29. Check your mailbox at the beginning of February for contest rules and instructions on how to enter. Like the industry itself, the Better Newspaper Contest is evolving. This year we’re unveiling the biggest upgrade to our contest in years — an online entry platform. Texas Press Association is partnering with SmallTownPapers’ BetterBNC to host the 2013 Texas Better Newspaper Contest online. The association joins the ranks of 120 press organizations, including the National Newspaper Association, to offer contestants and judges a faster, more efficient way to participate. In the deadline-driven world of newspaper production, time is a valuable commodity. (So put down your glue stick and throw away those old entry labels!) The digital entry method reduces time spent on preparation. It also saves money on shipping costs and makes the contest platform accessible from any location with In-

Beginning Feb. 11, TPA members will go online to the BetterBNC platform (pictured above) at to submit entries. ternet access. “Last year the National Newspaper Association went to online entries for their contest, and I was surprised how smoothly the system worked,” said TPA President Russel Skiles. “It was much easier to submit PDF files online than it was

to look up old papers, pull out tear sheets, mark them up, label them and get them shipped. “Submitting entries online in PDF format also eliminates problems with print quality and color registration of photos,” he added.

Members can expect a change in the entry fee structure this year. The BetterBNC platform requires contestants pay per entry. Instead of a flat $25 fee, members will pay $3 per entry. We’ve also made significant improvements and clarifications to contest rules. Most importantly, the month requirement has been removed from all categories except General Excellence. For the first time, newspapers can submit their best work from any issues in 2012. In categories such as News Writing or News Photo, one entry still comprises two samples of work (now from any two issues of your choice). In implementing these changes, we sought to make a more streamlined contest for members, judges and staff that showcases the very best of Texas newspapers. We hope you’ll agree.


Volunteers needed to judge Arkansas advertising contest We’re proud to call Arkansas our partner in the Better Newspaper Contest swap this year. Like TPA, the Arkansas Press Association has a long and storied history as the voice of the state newspaper industry. The association, based in Little Rock, was founded in 1873 and represents about 130 newspapers. This February and May, Texas newspapers will have the honor of selecting the winners of Arkansas’ Better Newspaper Advertising Contest and Better Newspaper News-Editorial Contest. Judging for the advertising contest will be held Feb. 15 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Austin American-Statesman. Contact Laura King at 512-477-6755 or ASAP to volunteer. Judging for the news-editorial contest will take place in early May. More details to come. The Better Newspaper Contest swap is a great opportunity for an open exchange of ideas between two state press associations. Your efforts on behalf of Texas newspapers make it possible for us to secure judges for our own contest, which will be judged online via the BetterBNC contest platform from April 8-22.

TPA Legislative Conference Feb. 24-25, Austin, TX PAGE 8




OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE Texas Press Association 718 West 5th Street Austin, TX 78759 (512) 477-6755 phone (512) 477-6759 fax


President Russel Skiles, Lamesa Press-Reporter; First Vice President Greg Shrader, Lufkin Daily News; Second Vice President Randy Mankin, Eldorado Success; Treasurer Glenn Rea, Cuero Record; Chairman Chad Ferguson, Banner Press Newspaper


Elected: Bill Crist, Snyder Daily News; Sue Brown, Pleasanton Express; Rochelle Stidham, Stephenville Empire-Tribune; Brandi Guy, Thorndale Champion; Brett McCormick, Vernon Daily Record; Chad Engbrock, Wylie News Appointed: Jeff Berger, Hondo Anvil Herald; Mark Henry, Mexia News; Melissa Perner, Ozona Stockman; Ken Esten Cooke, Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post; Roger Estlack, Clarendon Enterprise; Randy Keck, Community News; Hank Hargrave, Normangee Star Regional Presidents: Susan Reeves, Mount Vernon Optic-Herald, NETPA; Amanda Rogers, The Canyon News, PPA; Jason Jarrett, Westlake Picayune, STPA; Murray Judson, Port Aransas South Jetty, TGCPA; Mark Engebretson, Lake Country Sun, WTPA Regional Vice Presidents: Mark Engebretson, Lake Country Sun, NETPA; Wanda Brooks, Moore County News, PPA; Cyndy Slovak-Barton, Hays Free Press, STPA; Danny Reneau, Silsbee Bee, TGCPA; Lisa Davis, Wise County Messenger, WTPA

MESSENGER STAFF Publisher Micheal Hodges Editor Laura King Advertising Consultant Diane Byram Volume 88 — Issue No. 1 JANUARY 2013 Subscription rate $6 per year Single issue 50 cents © Texas Press Messenger, 2013 (ISSN 1521-7523). Published monthly by Texas Press Service, a business affiliate of Texas Press Association. Periodicals postage paid at Austin, Texas, and additional mailing office, USPS 541-440. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Texas Press Messenger, 718 West 5th Street, Austin, Texas 78701-2783. Printed by Hood County News in Granbury, Texas.

Lost in translation

Christmas gift-giving at my parents’ house this year not only provided some unusual entertainment but a reminder about the importance of good communication as well. If you are writing or otherwise trying to communicate something, it would be good to actually understand the language of the person you are trying to reach. For Christmas my parents gave my family a trio of battery-powered, remote-controlled helicopters. Of course we immediately put notincluded batteries in the controls and started trying to fly the things right there in the living room. In hindsight, that wasn’t a very good idea. Not in a living room filled with people, between a glass bookcase and the delicate ornaments on Mom’s Christmas tree, and below the spinning blades of the ceiling fan. Fortunately, we were too inept with the little choppers to cause much damage, and the effort proved more entertaining than damaging. Not having much luck learning to fly on our own, we eventually decided to fall back on the option of last resort — actually reading the instructions. That’s when the real entertainment began. “Made in China” obviously referred not only to the mostly plastic helicopters but to the printed materials that accompanied them. Whoever translated those instructions from Chinese to English did about as well as I would do trying to

write this column in Spanish. Or maybe they just plugged the Chinese words into one of those electronic translation programs and trusted that the results would be correct.

Rambling Russel Skiles TPA PRESIDENT 2012-2013

Anyway, the translation proved to be a bit lacking — but delightfully entertaining. For example: “Windy conditions may cause the missing and damage of the helicopter. “The blades of this helicopter is used activities blades, don’t screw up. “The helicopter was powerful, should be gradually pushed up the remote control shift lever on the left for first flight, to avoid the surge caused the helicopter crash damage. “Do not leave the battery together with tiny medal parts in consideration of safety.” While we could determine the intent of most of the instructions and warnings, some of them likely would have been confusing even

if we could have read the original Chinese version. “After finishing the efficacy of the plane gyro, check if the crossing tilting-tray is horizontal. If it is horizontal, you can remove the servo leaver and adjust it to a proper length until the swashplate is in the horizontal position then flight begins.” If you don’t understand that advice, try this one. “When the helicopter tail presents the counterclockwise rotation, you may the clockwise rotation you in the hand the remote control vernier adjustment knob will be balanced.” Even after reading the instructions we were still basically on our own in trying to figure out how to fly the aircraft. Fortunately, my teenage son has played enough video games to understand most electronic devices and simultaneously handle two joysticks on a remote control. Regardless, the manufacturer of the helicopters apparently disclaimed any responsibility for the actions of the people trying to fly them. Or at least that’s what I think this means... “The producer, sellers and retailers don’t afford any responsibility aroused from the possible accidents.” Yes, good communication is important not only in our business but in just about any endeavor. That includes trying to tell someone how to fly a toy helicopter.

Texas newspapers aren’t dying

WE ARE HIRING Check the TPA Job Bank at for a list of current openings



Does discussion of security warrant a closed session? Q: In the wake of the Newtown, Conn., tragedy, our school board posted a closed-session item on the meeting agenda and cited Texas Government Code Sec. 551.076, the Texas Open Meetings Act exception for the discussion of security measures. Can they discuss this in closed session? I don’t necessarily have a problem with them meeting behind closed doors to talk about security, but I would like to know if it’s legal. A: Media attorney Joe Larsen with the Houston office of Sedgwick L.L.P. answered the question this way. “It is indeed legal for this discussion to be held in closed session. “One can take issue with the policy position at issue here — that we are safer by keeping this information ‘out of the hands of the bad guys.’ That is, are we not better off allowing the public to know, and therefore to be able to criticize, a

governmental body’s deployment and implementation of security personnel and measures? A commit-


ted terrorist or mass murderer may well figure out the array of security measures through observation or through inside information. Security should be robust enough to be effective even if the bad guys figure it out. That will never happen if it is withheld from the citizenry. “However, this policy decision has

Send Us

Deadline: February 1, 2013

Your Best Editorial Enter the ISWNE’s 53rd Annual Golden Quill Award Contest

Entries should reflect the purpose of the ISWNE: Encouraging the writing of editorials or staff-written opinion pieces that identify local issues that are or should be of concern to the community, offer an opinion, and support a course of action. Eligibility:

All newspapers of less than daily frequency (published less than five days per week) are qualified to enter. Entries must have been published between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2012.

Cost: $20 per person (two entries allowed per person). Make checks payable to ISWNE.

How To Submit Entries:

Select up to four best editorials or signed opinion pieces from your newspaper. Two is the maximum number of entries permitted from each individual. Complete the PDF entry form at (under Contests). Using a pen or marker, clearly indicate the Golden Quill entry on each tearsheet. Print two copies and mail along with two complete page tearsheets of each entry.

Entries must be postmarked by Feb. 1, 2013. Please mark the envelope: GOLDEN QUILL ENTRY. Send to: Dr. Chad Stebbins Missouri Southern State University 3950 E. Newman Road Joplin, MO 64801-1595 You may also nominate an editorial or signed opinion piece by sending the required information with a copy of the article in the format indicated. Please enclose a letter telling ISWNE that it is a nomination, and a check for $20.

Grassroots Editor, ISWNE's quarterly journal, will reprint the 12 best editorials as the Golden Dozen in the Summer, 2013 issue.

The Golden Quill winner will be invited to attend ISWNE's annual conference in Green Bay, Wisconsin from July 10-14, 2013. The winner will receive a conference scholarship and travel expenses up to $500.

been made by the legislature. The cited exception, Tex. Gov’t Code § 551.076, says exactly what the board says it does.” Q: While checking the “public notices” section of my county’s website, I saw a Notice of Estray. The county didn’t publish this notice of estray in the newspaper. We used to publish notices of estray, didn’t we? P.S. I know the owners of the missing animal and they don’t use the Internet, which is no surprise because Internet penetration is only about 30 percent in the county. A: You have a good memory. Sheriff’s notices of estray were published by law in a newspaper in the county until the law was changed. The 81st Texas Legislature, in 2009, passed House Bill 2042 authored by Dan Flynn, R-Canton. The bill amended Agriculture Code Sec. 142.009(d), making public notice on a county’s website an alternative to public notice in a newspaper. Paragraph (d) reads as follows: If the owner of the estray is unknown, the sheriff or the sheriff’s designee shall make a diligent search for the identity of the owner of the estray, including a search in the county register of recorded brands, if the animal has an identifiable brand. If the search does not reveal the owner, the sheriff shall post a notice of the impoundment of the estray on the public notice board of the courthouse and advertise the impoundment of the estray: (1) in a newspaper of general circulation in the county at least twice during the 15 days after the date of impoundment; or (2) on the county’s Internet website for at least 15 days after the date of impoundment. Texas Press Association, through its Legislative Advisory Committee, fought HB 2042 throughout the lawmaking process, but to no avail. There was, and is, a gaggle of lobbyists who try to talk lawmakers into believing that Web posting is adequate enough to meet the needs of the public. And, since the law was changed so that a notice of estray is not required

to be printed in a newspaper, we’ve heard from TPA members who have reported that certain people in their communities lost — or came close to losing — stray cattle because they (the ranchers, not the cattle) were not hooked up to the Internet and didn’t find out any critters were missing. Q: Where on the TPA site would I find the editorial advocating companies and organizations to use newspapers of record for their legal notices? I read something about it in a recent email but can’t seem to locate it on the site. A: You are looking for the editorial penned by TPA Executive Vice President Donnis Baggett. That editorial was distributed via TPA’s listserver and was not posted on the TPA website. It begins, “An informed citizen is the ultimate source of power in a democratic government, which is why Texas’ governmental entities are required to print notices of their plans for actions ranging from annexation to zoning, and from large expenditures to tax hikes. For several years, lobbying efforts have been underway to eliminate this essential element of government transparency… .” I will send the editorial directly to you. Donnis also referenced www., which I recommend you read and make use of without delay. It is still early enough in the legislative session to make effective use of your editorial page, write letters and make phone calls to your lawmakers and their staffers. Full-hearted efforts by each Texas newspaper are and forever will be critical to the survival of printed public notices. You have a truly unique relationship with your senator and state rep. Now is the time to share your thoughts about public notice with them.

Have a question for Ed? Go online to to find more in this series or contact Ed at



On the necessity of newspapers

By Willis Webb TPA President 2003-04

At least one segment of my profession’s demise has been predicted for years even, at times, from within the industry. To some degree that prediction is coming true within the more precise world of major city daily newspapers. One of the most recent examples is the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Its owners cut it back from seven days a WEBB week to three times per week. Perhaps New Orleans isn’t a good example of the scary trend but nonetheless, there are still some signs that

major dailies are in trouble. After all, New Orleans has suffered some blows that most major cities aren’t going to undergo, Hurricane Katrina being the most damaging. New Orleans lost significant population after being inundated by levee failures during Hurricane Katrina. That loss was accompanied by a parallel demise of businesses that buy advertising space in a daily newspaper, the lifeblood of any publication. Perhaps New Orleans will ultimately regain some, if not most, of the population loss. However, newspapers are like any other business in that they must have substantial revenues and must operate

at a profit. The revenue expense profit numbers told the Times-Picayune’s owners that wasn’t possible with a seven-day-a-week paper. While there has been considerable rumbling in the daily newspaper segment of the industry for several years, the major effect has been a shrinkage in size, revenue and news-advertising capacity. On the other hand, the nation’s community newspaper industry continues to significantly out-perform its big city daily brethren. Thankfully, it is rare to hear of a weekly or semiweekly paper closing its doors. Community newspapers — small dailies, thrice-, twice- and once-weeklies — are still reasonably healthy, although perhaps not at the levels of the 1970s and 80s. Smaller communities — those served by the smaller newspapers — provide an element that is not so easily identifiable nor as significant an influence in large cities: smaller papers can make it more personal. Space constraints at major dailies dictate that significant space be given to international, national and state news as well as the civic and governmental news of that city. While big dailies may have some personal and individualistic news, they cannot and do not produce it in a volume that comes close to what community newspapers are able to do as a percentage of their total news product. You can be almost assured that Madie Jones’ 95th birthday will be acknowledged with a picture and information in a community news-

paper whereas a daily of any size is compelled, by the ruts of tradition, to devote a significant amount of space to “the larger picture of the news.” Yet, Madie’s celebration is the lifeblood of a community newspaper’s existence, compelling enough to be attractive to advertisers from every segment of a city. Community newspapers are noted as providers of scrapbook clippings, giving such papers a coffee table life beyond the regular city daily. Predictably, a community newspaper’s share of the local advertising revenue compared to a daily paper in a major market is significant enough to bolster the community paper’s existence. A major daily’s uncertainties are exacerbated by less total and comprehensive community coverage than a community paper’s. These problems are magnified in today’s young society where reading something in print is not as natural as it is for the older segment of the population. Add to that all the readership areas opened up by the proliferation of online sources. Today’s young adult readers are more inclined to get their information from some electronic source, rather than get the printer’s ink on their hands by reading the daily newspaper or tire themselves out, God forbid, by holding up a “heavy” book. Community newspapers, however, have gained strength in today’s market by offering strong products both in print and online, continuing to prove their necessity in the market.

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News Briefs



Kilgore News Herald company acquires three new papers


A Kilgore company has acquired community newspapers in Lindale, Mineola and Quitman. Bluebonnet Publishing Co. LLC — officed in Kilgore — assumed ownership of the Lindale News & Times, Mineola Monitor and Wood County Democrat. Bill Woodall, a former

publisher of both the Quitman and Mineola papers, is managing partner of the company. In addition to the Kilgore News Herald, the company also publishes the Tri County Leader (covering Whitehouse, Troup and Arp), Bullard Banner News and Chandler-

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Brownsboro Statesman. It also publishes Lake View News, a monthly, serving Lake Palestine. “This is something of a homecoming for me,” Woodall said. “I was editor and publisher of the Wood County Democrat from 1974 until late 1982. After some years in Oregon, I came back to East Texas in 1989 and was publisher of the Monitor for a few years while it was owned by a company from Dallas. My son and daughter both graduated from Quitman High School.” “We don’t anticipate any staff changes at any of the newspapers,” Woodall said. “I’ve known Joyce Hathcock, publisher of the three papers, for nearly 40 years and I have a great deal of confidence in her to run this team. Our goal will be to build on our circulation — including an online presence — and to drive home to the readers our mission to produce and deliver a comprehensive, accurate picture of their communities.” The business office in Kilgore is directed by Woodall’s wife and co-publisher of the News Herald, Jessica, a

Kilgore native. In addition to almost a decade of experience with Bluebonnet, she also served as business manager for newspapers in Palestine and Jacksonville. All the newspapers will be printed at the company’s facility in Kilgore once an equipment upgrade is complete. Until that time they will continue to be printed by the sellers in Longview. Bluebonnet is owned by Woodall with his sister and brother-in-law, Lisa Woodall Reid and B.J. Reid. Both Reids are graduates of Grand Saline High School. Woodall and his sister come from a newspaper family — their parents, the late Fern and Woody, worked at the Jacksonville Daily Progress before starting their own company and publishing newspapers in Grand Saline, Edgewood, Van and Quitman. “Lisa and I grew up around smalltown newspapers. We understand small towns and the need for an efficient, trusted means of communication,” said Woodall. “We hope to expand on the efficiencies and reinforce the trust.”

Victoria Advocate announces sale of weekly newspaper The Victoria Advocate sold the Matagorda Advocate to Southern Newspapers, the parent company of the Bay City Tribune. Dan Easton, publisher of the Victoria Advocate, said the paper and its related website were being sold to a company with a strong presence in the region. The Victoria Advocate launched the Matagorda Advocate 15 years ago. The sale will not change the operations of the Victoria Advocate, the second-oldest daily newspaper in Texas. Southern has community newspapers in the Southeast and Southwest, including the Brazosport Facts, the Galveston County Daily News and the Baytown Sun. “It’s a rarity these days to have

two newspapers serve a small community,” Easton said. “We value the relationships we’ve formed in Matagorda County and look forward to continuing to provide the Victoria Advocate as the daily newspaper there.” Southern’s Bay City Tribune has served Matagorda County since 1845. Dolph Tillotson, Southern executive vice president, said the company was “pleased that our colleagues at the Victoria Advocate have chosen our company to buy the Matagorda Advocate. We believe this transaction helps to ensure that there will be a strong and independent local newspaper in Bay City and Matagorda County for many years to come.”

News Briefs 6 Jim Bardwell purchases Mirror and Journal MESSENGER VOL 88 NO 1 JANUARY 2013


The Big Sandy & Hawkins Journal and The Gladewater Mirror were purchased by Bardwell Ink LLC, owned and operated by Suzanne and Jim Bardwell. The purchase signals a return for the Bardwells, since Jim Bardwell has been publisher of the two newspapers under several previous corporate owners for about 20 years. Suzanne Bardwell teaches journalism, psychology, dual credit college history, and is the yearbook and newspaper adviser at White Oak High School. She and her journalism program have won numerous state and national honors.

“This is a homecoming of sorts,” said Bardwell. “I have been managing the Gladewater Mirror and the Big Sandy & Hawkins Journal off and on since the early 1990s, and we have always considered this our home. When the opportunity to purchase these two newspapers arose, we jumped at the chance. Suzanne and I feel fortunate to now own the Mirror and Journal and we look forward to bringing local news coverage to the readers in our area.” The Bardwells have lived in East Mountain for more than 30 years and they have one son, Joshua. Texas Community Media

LLC, which owns the Longview News-Journal, sold 11 of the 12 weekly newspapers that had been part of the group. Bluebonnet Publishing Co. LLC — officed in Kilgore — assumed ownership of the the Wood County Democrat, Lindale News & Times, and Mineola Monitor. Bill Woodall is managing partner of the company. Other newpapers in the group — the Pittsburg, Daingerfield, Atlanta, New Boston and Linden papers — were sold to Jim Moser with Moser Community Media. The Grand Saline Sun was purchased by Dan and Ann Moore.



TCCJ series explores Texas criminal justice issues

The Texas Center for Community Journalism has made two new investigative series available free of charge to Texas newspapers and their websites. The series are both written by Kathy Cruz, reporter for the Hood County News in Granbury and consultant in investigative reporting for TCCJ. Both series are underwritten by the Hood County News and the Center. One series, Justice for All, investigates the fairness of the Texas criminal justice system, especially in cases that deal with indigent defense. Stories in that series exam-

ine the quality of legal services in Texas and the impact of the justice system on those who are accused of crimes, as well as the impact on their families. The other series, Routier Revisited: Was Darlie Unjustly Convicted?, looks at one of the state’s most celebrated murder convictions, which sent a Rowlett mother of three to death row following a conviction for killing two of her children. The case spawned TV documentaries and books, and now has many observers questioning the police investigation and the trial. Both series have been uploaded,

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along with art and logos, for use by community journalists in Texas. The Justice for All series is available at forall. The Darlie Routier series is available at routier. Tommy Thomason, director of the Center, said he hopes Texas newspapers will go beyond just printing the Justice for All series especially. “We want newspapers to look this series over and get ideas for their own investigations,” he said.

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“We hope papers will run their own stories on the quality of the justice system in their coverage area and send them to us. We will upload those stories along with the ones Kathy Cruz has written.” Jerry Tidwell, publisher of the Hood County News, said the projects are important for Texas community journalism. “Community newspapers typically do not have the staff and the resources to take in-depth looks at statewide issues,” Tidwell said. “This is a way to help them and, in the process, provide a service to the people of Texas.”

Capital Highlights promotional period ends soon Texas Press Association is offering a valuable source of legislative information, State Capital Highlights, free to member newspapers this month. But hurry, the promotional period is coming to an end! Capital Highlights is a weekly aggregation of news about state government, posted by TPA Member Services Director Ed Sterling, and available by subscription for member newspapers to publish. Each column runs about 700 words and is uploaded online each Monday. The last complimentary issue will be posted Jan. 28. Go to the State Capital Highlights Login on the TPA website at www.texaspress. com, type in the Username: broadsheet and Password: 2012. Capital Highlights is the perfect supplement to the outstanding local coverage TPA member newspapers provide. It’s also a great source of inspiration for in-depth articles. Once the trial period has ended, members can subscribe for just $90 a year. Contact Ed Sterling at to become a subscriber.



Get Involved.

Join us for the TPA Legislative Conference FEBRUARY 24-25 AUSTIN, TX

There is no more effective lobbyist than a concerned local newspaper publisher. Find out what you can do to protect citizens’ right to know at the TPA Legislative Conference, Feb. 24-25 at the Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol. Get updates on legislative activities and proposed bills and insights from key political advisors. Contact TPA Executive Director Mike Hodges at 512-477-6755 to register. The deadline to reserve a room at the group rate of $159 per night is Jan. 25. To book a room, call the Sheraton at 512-478-1111.

AGENDA SUNDAY, FEB. 24 8-10 p.m. Welcome Reception MONDAY, FEB. 25 7:30–8:45 a.m. Eggs and Issues Breakfast – A visit with Texas House Speaker Joe Straus 9–9:30 a.m. Legislative Advisory Committee Report – Agenda for the 83rd Session, Jim Moser, president of Moser Community Media LLC, and Donnis Baggett, TPA executive vice president 9:30–10:15 a.m. What to Expect This Session and Beyond – Paul Burka, Texas Monthly 10:30 a.m.–12 p.m. How to Be an Effective Grassroots Lobbyist – Joe Gagen, Austin legislative trainer 12-1 p.m. Luncheon – Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, keynote speaker 1:15–2:30 p.m. How to Be an Effective Grassroots Lobbyist (cont’d.) – Joe Gagen, Austin legislative trainer

Photo by Fred Anders

2:45–3:30 p.m. Legislative Advisory Committee Meeting

Texas Press Messenger: January 2013  

The official publication of the Texas Press Association.

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