Tarleton welcomes Texas Center for Community Journalism

Renee Burns

Multimedia Journalist

The communications department at Tarleton State University held a formal reception to celebrate the arrival of the Texas Center for Community Journalism (TCCJ) on Feb 20.

The TCCJ is an organization that provides free middle career training to rural and community journalists. Tommy Thomason, Ph.D., founded the TCCJ at Texas Christian University where it resided until now.

“This is the only center like it in the United States that’s dedicated to mid-career training of community journalism people,” Thomason said. “Not only do we do the training, but it’s free. They come to workshops that are geared to meet the needs of people in community journalism.”

Thomason was tasked with finding the new home for TCCJ and immediately thought of Tarleton as a possible contender.

“We were looking and came up with about five universities who were interested in doing this and when I ranked them in terms of who would I like to see get the center, Tarleton was one through five. There was nobody else that I even considered,” Thomason said.

Pictured (left to right): Dr. Christopher Gearhart, Mike Hodges, Kathryn Jones-Malone, Dan Malone, Dr. Tommy Thomason and Dr. James Hurley
Photo Courtesy of Kurt Mogonye

Dan Malone and Kathryn Jones-Malone will be the new co-directors of TCCJ. Although retiring, Thomason will stay on with TCCJ as director emeritus.

“This is a tremendous honor for both Kathryn and I,” Malone said. “We are so grateful that Tommy even thought of us, much less selected us.”

Malone and Jones-Malone are planning their first workshop for April 2020. The workshops offer training in a variety of topics such as advertising sales, advertising design and layout, copy editing, covering courts and freedom of information.

There were representatives of media outlets from all over the state in attendance including Snyder, Azle, Hamilton, Wise County and several others.

“It just really underscores how important community journalism is to people and how passionate people are about it and how necessary it is to our communities and to our democracy,” Jones-Malone said when asked about the number of people in attendance. “To continue bringing news to people no matter how small the community, so that people can make decisions about their schools and their government and the direction of their towns.”

There were several speakers in attendance including Thomason, department head of communications studies, Christopher Gearhart Ph.D. and executive director of the Texas Press Association, Mike Hodges.

“I thought that tonight’s reception went tremendously. I think that we had a lot of great people here today,” Gearhart said. “(We) really are excited about the prospect of extending the passion for community journalism.”

The dean of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, Eric Morrow, Ph.D., and the President of Tarleton State University, James Hurley, Ph.D., were also in attendance at the reception.

“We were very excited this evening to welcome the Texas Center for Community Journalism. The significance of this for Tarleton is its connection with newspapers across the state and what those opportunities and that networking means for our students,” Morrow said. “Because it’s located at a university, it gives students the opportunity to participate in those things as well and to meet these people, who one day they may be able to get a job… Because these areas are really needing people that have the training.”

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