Richard Allen Finnell, left, a long-time adviser for The Daily Texan, died Saturday at the age of 70. He worked closely with Jennie Kennedy during her three-semester tenure as managing editor from 2000–2001. 

Richard Allen Finnell, journalist and long-time print adviser for The Daily Texan, died Saturday at the age of 70.

Finnell, a UT alumnus, was a mainstay of support for Texan staffers over the course of his 17-year tenure as adviser, according to former managing editor Jennie Kennedy.

“When I told Richard I wanted to be managing editor, I was dumb, and 20, and had all these beautiful ideas — and he supported me in every direction I wanted to go,” Kennedy said. “The thing I loved about Richard is that no matter what we wanted to do, he had our backs.”

Finnell worked long hours, reading each article before publication until his retirement in 2009. Erin Inks, who served as managing editor in 2004, said the staff appreciated his dedication — especially when technical delays meant the workday extended long past deadline.

“When I was managing editor, we had some difficulty implementing new software, so we were having tons of technical issues,” Inks said. “He was always the only adult there, sitting with us [and] finishing the paper. We were there so late, and he didn’t have to do it, but he stayed there with us. He was there to help.”

Finnell had an extensive background in journalism. Before working at the Texan, he served as the editor and manager of Hill Country News from 1983–1993 and as the managing editor of Taylor Daily Press for four years. Despite his experience, he let Texan staffers make their own mistakes, Inks said.

“For someone who had as much experience and knowledge as he did, I’m sure at times it was hard to pull back and let us be a truly student-led newspaper,” Inks said. “But that’s what he did. He was there for us to give advice, to circle something in red [and] to tell us what was really bad — but he was never overbearing.”

Finnell was known for his honesty, Kennedy said.

“Richard pulled no punches,” Kennedy said. “When he thought something was crappy, he told us. When he thought something was good, he told us.”

Kennedy, who was managing editor for three semesters, said she couldn’t imagine a better adviser. 

“There was nobody better in the world to support a bunch of college kids trying to write a paper,” Kennedy said. “At the end of the day, he taught us to use our good judgement. He taught us that no one was the boss of us.”

And Finnell, known for stroking his carefully cultivated mustache — and occasionally leaving the office basement to help his son run a fireworks stand — was funny, too.

“There’s just something about having an adviser that will look at your stuff at midnight and still crack up about it,” Kennedy said. “I advise everyone to get one of those.”

Finnell is survived by his sister, Carmen Shinn, and his son, Cory Finnell.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

I went 19 years not caring about baseball. I didn’t hate baseball, but I wasn’t a fan either. I just didn’t grow up playing the sport. 

It was only fitting that it would be my first step into The Daily Texan.

Entering my junior year at UT I switched majors from mathematics to journalism.  At the beginning of the semester, I submitted an application for The Daily Texan. I then received an email from the sports editor, Christian Corona. My tryout piece: a review of the Round Rock Express’ season.

Great. Baseball. I know next to nothing about it. 

But I did what a journalist ought to do in this situation: research, learn. I didn’t understand ERA meant or what a good one was. So I looked it up. There was nothing wrong with being behind the curve. If I put effort into learning what certain things meant, I would be in a better position to turn in a decent story.

Fortunately, my work paid off. After tryouts, Christian welcomed me to The Daily Texan. He brought me in to the office and we edited my piece. He was impressed with what I wrote considering I didn’t watch baseball. A few weeks later, I had my first article in the paper. Thanks for the opportunity, Christian.

I have spent the last two years covering the women’s tennis team. What I’ll always remember about going to the matches is not singing the “Eyes of Texas” after each match. As a Longhorn, I wanted to join, but, as a journalist, I had to be neutral. It was awesome, though, to witness Aerial Ellis claim her 100th victory on Senior Day.

I wish I would have gotten to know other staff members better. Aside from staff meetings and reading their stories, I didn’t put enough effort into learning from my fellow Texan writers. 

I did befriend Chris Hummer before I came to the Texan. When we met, it was hard not to like the guy. He always finds a way to connect with everyone he meets, something a journalist should be capable of. We played basketball nearly every other day our sophomore year. When he became the sports editor, Chris took the time to go through my stories and point out what needed work and what looked well. 

My final semester at the Texan has been one of the best at UT. I attended Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s media day after he won the Daytona 500. The tennis team endured one of the nation’s toughest schedules. And I enjoyed Friday afternoon staffsketball. Who knew Shabab had a shot like Kobe or that Mike Brick was such a force in the paint? It was fun playing with everyone who came out. 

As I write this column on my couch, I notice my El Paso Chihuahuas cap on the table. I’m still not a baseball fan, but that cap will serve as a reminder of how I started my career at the Texan.


Standing 100 feet high in rural Cameroon is a radio tower built by exiled journalist Issa Nyaphaga and his team of supporters.

The tower is an unexpected sight in Nyaphaga’s village Nditam, as well as in the surrounding towns in Cameroon, because community members have almost no access to technology. This makes it more difficult to spread education and common knowledge about a range of topics such as sex education and women’s rights.

“It’s another world where time doesn’t exist, and people struggle for basic life,” Nyaphaga said.

While living in America, Nyaphaga decided he wanted to help combat the ignorance in the Central African country. His solution was Radio Taboo, a community radio station that reports information that is traditionally taboo in the culture.

Nyaphaga is giving a presentation Thursday at the ART on 5th Gallery to discuss his life and work — particularly his efforts involving the radio station and an accompanying documentary being made about the station.  

“It’s going to be fun for the people, but it’s going to be highly educational,” said Sophie Rousmaniere, director of “Radio Taboo” the film. “It will give them a voice for their community, but it will also expose them to some information that could really improve people’s lives.”

Because of Cameroon’s isolated rainforest setting, radio is the most practical form of mass communication in Nditam and the surrounding communities.

Jim Ellinger of Austin Airwaves, an organization that has worked closely with Radio Taboo, said radio is ultimately the most effective way of getting information to people. 

“Everyone has a radio,” Ellinger said. “If they don’t, oftentimes we give them one. It’s free, it’s immediate, everyone in an area can listen all at once and most importantly it allows people to speak for themselves and to themselves.”

In response to the government’s censorship of knowledge, Nyaphaga became a political journalist who drew cartoons about all aspects of Cameroon’s news, but especially criticized those in power. His illustrations were seen by government officials and resulted in his expulsion from the country. 

“It was a normal newspaper with general information,” Nyaphaga said. “What got us in trouble is that the government had censorship laws, so they have to control what we publish.”

In order to make these stabs at government officials and work around the strict censorship laws, Nyaphaga and his co-workers drew the cartoons anonymously by signing them with a nickname. But when the government noticed his defiance, Nyaphaga was one of the first to be identified and arrested.

“I was kept in the bureau of information, which was really a government police office where they forced people to give information — so they tortured people,” Nyaphaga said. “I was hanged there and shocked for about two weeks to say the name of my friends because they had the nicknames of all the journalists and they asked me to identify who is really who. I didn’t do that.”

While Nyaphaga survived the investigations, he said many of his peers did not.

“I am very lucky today because I am one of the ones who is alive and left the country,” Nyaphaga said. “That’s why I decided to move to a bigger country where I could have a bigger audience to tell this story.”

Nyaphaga lives in the U.S. now, but returns to Nditam every summer for three months. As long as he does not engage in any activity that directly attacks the government, he can return.

Radio Taboo now runs on a citizen journalist system where trained local journalists in Cameroon will teach civilians in the area to report on things in their community.

Issue TV, an indie documentary group, has teamed up with Radio Taboo to create a documentary that will, when completed, show the radio’s establishment from start to finish.

The first half of the documentary will premiere Thursday at Nyaphaga’s talk, and the money earned will be used to complete and fund the film “Radio Taboo,” as well as to start and maintain the actual radio station. 

“What we hope to do with the film other than have it broadcasted on U.S. televisions and in the Western world, is we hope to bring a certain version of the film around to different communities [in Cameroon],” Rousmaniere said. “The idea being that the film could then in different areas that are not reachable by radio, inspire others and educate them in another way.”

British journalist Gary Younge discusses his newest book "The Speech; The Story Behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Dream" with Eric Tang, director of the University's Social Justice Institution, at the Joynes Reading Room on Wednesday evening. 

Photo Credit: Brianna Holt | Daily Texan Staff

When Martin Luther King Jr. first delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, it wasn’t immediately considered iconic, according to British journalist Gary Younge, who spoke about his research on the speech Wednesday.

Younge said King delivered his speech to a crowd that was passionate — but also overheated and tired. Younge said many audience members traveled all night to be at the March on Washington, D.C. on Aug. 28, 1963. 

“It was a hot day — 87 degrees by noon — and King was the 16th of 18 speakers,” Younge said. 

Younge said King had hoped civil rights could be achieved without holding a march. Activists and politicians were anxious in the days prior to the March on Washington.

“There was actually a kill switch planted inside King’s microphone,” Younge said. 

King had given similar speeches hundreds of times before — even the week before, during a march in Detroit — but the well-known “I Have a Dream” section was not in the final draft of his intended speech, Younge said. 

According to Younge, this speech in Washington, D.C., was neither the birth nor the peak of King’s popularity. After King’s speech, he began to speak on topics other than civil rights, and, by the time of his assassination, he was considered to be irrelevant in the view of the public.

“He spoke on the economy and the redistribution of wealth. … He had lost control; he [was] no longer relevant. That’s how he was viewed when he died,” Younge said.

Although the King speech was not remembered by that generation as iconic, a 1999 public opinion poll revealed that King was viewed as the second most influential historical person of the 20th century, only behind Mother Teresa, according to Younge.

Younge attributed the change in the public’s perception of the speech to the broad language King used.

“There was something for everyone in that speech,” Younge said.

Eric Tang, an assistant professor in the African and African diaspora studies department and director of the University’s Social Justice Institute, said he hopes Younge’s talk is just one of many civil-rights-themed events the University will host this year.

“This event is part of what I hope will be several campus activities that mark the 50th anniversary of a pivotal two years in the long civil rights movement — 1963 and 1964,” Tang said.

Sociology professor Ben Carrington said he hopes people don’t oversimplify the civil rights movement.

“We want students to leave knowing the civil rights movement wasn’t attributed to one man and one speech, but it was a much wider movement,” Carrington said. “It’s about changing the world.”

Washington Post journalist Annie Hull speaks to students in The Joynes Room in Carothers. 

Photo Credit: Gabriella Belzer | Daily Texan Staff

Journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Anne Hull questioned the intersection of truth and the standards of journalism at a talk on campus Tuesday.

Hull, a reporter for The Washington Post, discussed her career in journalism as well as some of the specific stories she has covered, including topics of immigration, current journalism standards and race. Hull also explained how journalism students begin to understand what is defined as the truth. 

“You are working in the frontier of journalism,” Hull said. “What is true and what portion of stories is true must be decided by
new journalists.”

Hull also discussed controversies over sexual orientation and young teenagers, specifically explaining the violence teenagers experience when they come to terms with their sexuality. Hull said her stories about gay
teenagers included spending extra time with the story and involving herself in the teens’ lives. She said that the details she includes in her stories are not always accepted
by readers.

“Journalism is when one leaves [one’s world] for someone else’s and does not focus on the cut-and-paste journalism,”
Hull said. 

She said she gets people to trust her work through face-to-face interviews, as opposed to emails.

“I have learned that 60 percent of journalism is waiting around for the story and learning journalists need to see things for themselves,” Hull said.

Hull received the 2008 Pulitizer Prize for Public Service after covering the Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s treatment of wounded soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. She said the journalist’s job is to get the story, but sometimes the pressure of the story is hard to handle. 

“In some stories,
nothing happens, and in others, events continuously
happen,” Hull said. “But one of the purposes of journalism is to work for someone who has the same ideals as the [journalist] and will pay them something for
their ideals.”

Grace Biggs, Plan II honors and biology seniors, said Hull’s advice affected her perception of journalism.

“Hull explained how our generation of journalists do not care about the truth but should consider focusing on it,” Biggs said.

The Plan II Honors Program hosted the event as part of the Joynes Lecture Series. Matt Valentine, the series’ program coordinator, said students interested in journalism, politics, storytelling, writing or history will likely appreciate Hull’s perspective as a
professional reporter. 

“Hull’s stories challenge the simple narrative,” Valentine said. “She does not cover the liberal point of view or the conservative point of view, but the journalist point of view.”

Editor’s note: Per the TSM election code Section 7.45B, Daily Texan editor-in-chief candidates have the opportunity to publish two columns during their campaigns. The candidates were asked to write one column on the topic specified below and another on a topic of their choice. The columns had to be between 580-620 words. The candidates were responsible for writing their own headlines. For their first columns below, the candidates were asked to answer the following questions: The Daily Texan and Texas Student Media confront financial challenges due in part to major, uncharted changes in the publishing industry with the growth of the web. How should The Daily Texan address the changing habits of its readers? How will you, as editor-in-chief, ensure it remains a relevant platform for student voices?  

A few days ago, I told a friend’s mother that I hoped to pursue a career in journalism. The woman, a journalist herself, smiled at me as she replied, “Now, I’m just going to let you know, it’s a dying industry.” 

The financial situation at the Texan makes it clear that if journalism is not dying, it is very, very sick. There are counterexamples to this claim, such as The Texas Tribune, a digital-only media organization that focuses on Texas politics and has seen great success. Even Buzzfeed, the brightly-colored website known primarily for pictures of cute cats, has begun reporting politics and in January announced $20 million in new funds. The Daily Texan, however, has seen revenue drop dramatically, and the forecast isn’t rosy. 

Last Tuesday, the current editorial board devoted an entire page to rebutting the clearest solution to the Texan’s financial woes, cutting print, on the basis that print advertising constitutes 95% of the Texan’s revenue. At the bottom of the page, a list of ideas collected from Daily Texan staff and readers to “boost the Texan’s relevance and revenue” included options such as hawking papers at central locations on campus and rethinking how we distribute papers. 

The opinion page made a compelling case, but I was reminded of what they left out when I revisited the article online. There, the talents of the Daily Texan design team had devolved into a bullet-pointed block of text. In the world of new media, the phrase “straddling the print-digital line” gets thrown around quite a bit, but the reality is that it’s not “straddling” if you’re tilting strongly to one side. The Texan needs to find its balance before it falls off the fence. 

However, investing in our digital product will require either dipping into the reserves of our parent company, Texas Student Media, or making significant cuts to the budget. Neither are pleasant options, nor is investment in the website a complete solution to the Texan’s troubles. Online ad revenue is nowhere near substantial enough to fill the fiscal hole, and even if it were, a better website is not a field of dreams: there’s no guarantee that if you build it, clicks will come. 

So if neither cutting print nor improving the website are the correct answer to the troubles of the Texan, what is? Unfortunately, this isn’t a test, and there’s no TA waiting at the front of the lecture hall to tell us if we’ve bubbled correctly. Keeping the paper solvent will take both readjustments to our budget and reconnections with our readership. But most importantly, it will take action. I admire the editorial board for putting forth ideas to improve the profits of the paper, but printing the suggestion that we hawk papers is not the same as actually hawking them, which staff at the Texan could do tomorrow. Reaching out to alumni for donations could also be done tomorrow. Promoting our content more frequently on social media could be done tomorrow. And cutting some of the traditional perks of the editor-in-chief position, such as tuition stipends, must be on the table, along with more comprehensive revisions to the budget, which won’t happen tomorrow, but the foundations of which could be laid in the coming year.

In 1951, then-editor-in-chief of the Texan Ronnie Dugger wrote an editorial startlingly similar to the one that ran Tuesday. “Problems, some of them serious, face the Texan. There is a constant battle for advertising,” wrote Dugger. The Texan survived that disaster, and it can survive this one, but to do so, it needs to make compromises, take chances, and embrace change. I’m confident that I’m up to that challenge. 

Wright is a Plan II junior from San Antonio.

When I was 12 years old, I told my family that I wanted to be a journalist when I grew up. A sports journalist. By 2022, I announced, they would all be able to watch me on TV, commenting on the final match of the soccer World Cup. My family expressed skepticism and quietly hoped that I would change my mind and switch to a more promising career — medicine, perhaps, or at least teaching.

But my career path was set. Well, at least the beginning (being 12 years old and deciding to become a journalist) and the end (reporting on that match in 2022) were set. Everything in between was vague and blurry. There is no set path — at least not in Germany, where I grew up.

In contrast to the United States, studying journalism at university in Germany is very uncommon. Only a few universities offer degrees in journalism. Besides that, there are only a handful of renowned journalism schools — you don’t have to pay fees, but the entry is extremely competitive (about 2000 applications for 20 spots). Most people have completed at least a bachelor’s degree before they enter these schools, and those who get in are very likely to land a very good job afterward. Out of the 40 graduates of the last two classes at the most renowned journalism school, 30 got a permanent job with major newspapers and magazines, and the other 10 found work as freelance journalists and foreign correspondents.

The vast majority of aspiring German journalists, however, never makes it into these schools and instead enters the field through other routes.  If there is anything that one could call the “usual way,” it would be this: Study anything you like, start working early on for whatever type of media interests you, try to get extra qualifications outside of university and try to find an area to specialize in. After university, you will probably still have to complete a practical training for 18-24 months at very low wages and hope that someone will offer you a job afterward.

These are not exactly the prospects to ease your constantly worrying parents’ minds. Believe me, I am sometimes worried myself. I have completed four internships, two with newspapers, one with a major radio station and one with a TV production company. I have worked for an online magazine for two years, and I made it into a very good scholarship program that not only adds to my monthly budget, but also provides an excellent cross-media training with hands-on workshops during school holidays. It could be much worse. And still, sometimes I have doubts because I am aware that knowing the tools of journalism is not enough and that this truth is not country-specific but universal. Having a degree from a journalism school, be it from UT or any other school in the world, is not enough. It’s not about how to become a journalist, it’s about how to become a good one.

I think that the best thing you can do to improve your chances is to start writing, and keep writing. The same goes for photography, radio and television. If you can do all of them, even better. Do it as often and as intensively as you can. Meet people. Lots of people. They increase your likelihood of finding a job. They also enhance your chances of making a living as a freelance journalist. Build a network — and by network, I don’t mean the old guys who are running media today, but the passionate aspiring journalists around you. Their ideas and potential will change journalism, and you’d better be one of them when it happens.

I don’t think it’s going to be easy, but I think it’s going to be possible, and most of the time I think it’s going to be worth it. There are still too many stories out there, and we need to tell them.

Hardt is an English junior from Freiburg, Germany.

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and columnist for The New York Times Nichols Kristof spoke on the issue of human trafficking at a forum held at Lady Bird Johnshon Auditoruim Monday night. A crowd of 850 people showed up to hear Kristof share his stories about girls forced and sold into sexual slavery internationally and domestically.

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

The United States faces a human trafficking crisis just as countries overseas do, said journalist Nicholas Kristof in a lecture Monday.

Kristof, a New York Times columnist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, visited campus Monday evening to give a talk about the realities of human trafficking around the world and his work fighting it.

“Ultimately, it felt to me that [human trafficking] really was a version of slavery,” Kristof said. “People to tend to think that that’s a hyperbole or an exaggeration. It’s not.”

Kristof was invited as the 2012 speaker for the annual Liz Carpenter Lectureship, which began in 1984 and invites prominent figures from around the globe to speak to both students and the general public. The Plan II Honors Program sponsored this year’s lecture at the Lady Bird Johnson Auditorium, which nearly 850 people attended. Kristof has been a columnist for the New York Times since 2001 after more than 15 years reporting for the paper. He has traveled extensively, covering a range of human rights topics.

Plan II invited him to speak at the event because of his relevant work in exposing human trafficking and human rights issues as a whole, said Phillip Dubov, alumni relations and development specialist for the Plan II Honors Program.

“The Liz Carpenter Lectureship is a very high-profile lecture series,” Dubov said. “Liz Carpenter was the secretary to Lady Bird Johnson, and she was a dynamic and interesting person. We’ve had a lot of interesting people over the years and we wanted to bring in someone who is very high-profile and current in the news.”

Kristof spoke about his experiences in east Asian brothels, particularly in Cambodia, and the types of injustice currently taking place overseas. He gained distinction in 2004 when he purchased two young Cambodian women in order to remove them from a brothel he visited in the border town of Poipet, he said.

“In a sense I was exploiting those girls for their stories, and so many other visitors were exploiting them,” Kristof said. “I knew I was telling their stories, and I didn’t want just to walk off and benefit myself with these columns and leave them to die of AIDS.”

Kristof said sex trafficking in the U.S. is also prevalent and laws are becoming more effective at reducing it. Police are beginning to target clients and pimps instead of prostitutes, a changing dynamic that is making positive advances in fighting human trafficking, he said.

Kristof said he feels a responsibility to raise awareness about trafficking in the U.S., as well as abroad, in order to help the public understand that the domestic market for human trafficking is just as prevalent as the market overseas. Pimps often use online trading sites such as to advertise their women and girls, he said.

“It was surprising how much [Kristof] talked about the domestic side of [human trafficking],” said Emily Ling, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs alumna. “His mention of the fact that it was mostly American girls here and not foreign girls was really educational for me.”

Despite the amount of injustice Kristof has witnessed firsthand, he remains hopeful about the future and said he encourages education and raising awareness about the issue.

“I think that there’s a tendency to think that this is sad and hopeless,” Kristof said. “In reporting about this over the years since I first went to Cambodia, I have seen that raising awareness on this issue makes an enormous amount of difference.”

Matt Valentine, program coordinator for the Joynes Reading Room, said Kristof’s coverage of human trafficking has brought significant publicity to the issue of human rights both overseas and in the United States, and his work is valuable in educating those who would not ordinarily be exposed to information about the issue.

“It’s a difficult topic for people to read about, but people do read about it in Kristof’s column because he approaches it with a sort of realism, and also with optimism,” Valentine said. “I think he does envision an end to human trafficking. It’s a very responsible form of advocacy journalism.”

Oscar Griffin Jr. smiles in this March 1962 files photo. On March 30, 1962, the Independent came out with a headline saying “Federal Charge Jails Estes.” The article, written by Griffin, said that Estes was arrested by FBI agents at 6 p.m., March 29, 1962, and booked into the Reeves County jail about

UT alumnus and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Oscar Griffin, Jr. died from pancreatic cancer earlier this month in New Waverly, Texas. Griffin was 78 years old.

Griffin won the 1963 Pulitzer Prize for the investigation of a scandal involving Billie Sol Estes, a former financier who borrowed money supposedly to build fertilizer tanks but never constructed them. Griffin learned of the situation from an overheard conversation and investigated the scandal by personally searching for the tanks. He learned Estes had the tank numbers moved around in order to fool investors and keep his secret safe.

Griffin worked for the Pecos Independent Enterprise, now the Pecos Enterprise, while investigating the scandal.

“Only two people on the Pecos Independent Enterprise staff knew about the articles before they were written,” Griffin said in his Pulitzer acceptance speech. “Marj Carpenter, the news editor, was not sure what they would contain until printed, but shouldered more than her share of the load on the paper while the articles were being compiled.”

Jon Fulbright, current managing editor of the Pecos Enterprise, said Griffin’s work helped distinguish his newspaper from another Pecos publication. Fulbright said following Griffin’s receipt of the Pulitzer, the competing newspaper was purchased by the owners of the Enterprise.

“Pecos has always been a place where battles are fought in the open,” Fulbright said. “[Media] was pretty competitive back then.”

Meg Griffin, daughter of the Pulitzer Prize winner, said her father’s life was full of many other accomplishments in addition to the honor of the award. Griffin earned an MBA from Harvard, served as a White House correspondent and was personal friends with former President Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Meg Griffin said her father often told stories of visiting the LBJ ranch.

“Once my dad brought his dad to meet the president,” she said. “To him, LBJ was no big deal.”

She said her grandfather, LBJ and Griffin were enjoying a few beers when the president jokingly told Griffin he was not allowed to drink another.

“My dad took one anyway,” Meg Griffin said. “My grandfather got scared because he had disobeyed the president, but my dad said, ‘Oh, that’s just Lyndon.’”

Meg Griffin said the family will miss her father’s sense of humor, in addition to his sense of social justice and internal urge to make things right. She said he was also known for his love of Longhorn football, but died too soon to see the Longhorns beat the Aggies one last time.

Celebrated journalist Bill Moyers makes an appearance in studio 6A of the CMB on Monday afternoon. The UT alumn and former White House Press Secretary spoke about issues in modern media, and engaged in a Q&A session at the end of his lecture.

Photo Credit: Jorge Corona | Daily Texan Staff

Bill Moyers was preparing to pursue a Ph.D. when he received a call from Lyndon Baines Johnson, who was running for president and sought Moyers’ assistance. Moyers deviated from his plans for a doctorate degree and took the job as White House press secretary.

Moyers, an Emmy Award-winning journalist, spoke about his careers as both broadcast journalist and White House press secretary at an event sponsored by the School of Journalism and the Department of Radio-Television-Film on Monday.

Some of Moyers’ work includes hosting PBS programs “NOW with Bill Moyers” and “Bill Moyers’ Journal.” He has won more than 30 Emmy awards throughout his career, including a Lifetime Emmy Award in 2006. Moyers graduated from UT’s School of Journalism in 1956.

“He’s being gracious and coming back to his old school and wanting to talk to students,” said School of Journalism Director Glenn Frankel.

Moyers said when he started out as an undergraduate at North Texas State College (now the University of North Texas), he wasn’t quite sure of what he wanted to do. He said he initially thought he would be an airforce pilot until he interned for U.S. Senator Lyndon Johnson, who instructed him to go to Austin for more opportunity. He transferred to UT shortly after.

“I couldn’t imagine all that’s happened — you don’t know what the next 40-50 years will bring,” Moyers said. “I was still debating my future in my head.”

Moyers said while attending the University he was torn between journalism, religion and teaching, but his instincts led him to journalism. As a student, he worked for The Daily Texan and held a simultaneous job at KTBC. The Texan, he said, taught him the value of telling the truth.

“We had a great editor. It was professional,” he said. “It taught me the importance of getting [reporting] right.”

Moyers said he never really wanted to work as White House press secretary but it did teach him about ethics.

“Almost every issue that crossed my desk, almost every story I ever dealt with, had some kind of ethics,” Moyers said. “I had been prepared for a future I hadn’t anticipated.”

Moyers, who left his position as press secretary to work in news publication and later worked for CBS and NBC, also discussed his career in broadcast journalism and the importance of criticizing our own institutions.

“Journalism is to me about gathering, weighing, organizing, judging and presenting information,” Moyers said. “A lot of journalism on television isn’t about that at all.”

In the midst of a changing media and a tough job market, Moyers said he still encourages students with that burning desire to pursue journalism.

“I’ve been fortunate to take what I have learned and share it with a large audience — to me, that’s an intoxicating pursuit. It puts you at the intersection of so much.”

Printed on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 as: UT crossroads for journalist