Keep Texan Editors Elected

Letter from:
JOHN M. ECONOMIDY, Texan Editor, 1966-67
Attorney at Law
San Antonio
(210) 521-7843
E-mail: economidy AT att.net

As a former editor of The Daily Texan ('66-'67), I urge all students at the University of Texas at Austin to save the freedom of the Texan. Help is sought to stop the effort by the Texas Student Publication's Board to change the Texan's editorship from an elected position to an appointed position at its 3 p.m. Friday, April 22, 2005 meeting.

Students created The Daily Texan for students, and did so decades before there was a Department of Journalism. Through its history of over 100 years, The Texan has editorially advocated the best interest of the students of The University of Texas at Austin. Also throughout its history, the Texan has had to fight for its editorial freedom. In the early 1960s, Regents Chairman W. W. Heath tried to kill the Texan's editorial freedom by converting the Texan editor position to an appointed position. At that time, student government (then called the Students' Association) rose to the challenge and under the leadership of SA president Gregory O. Lipscomb challenged the change and was successful in getting the elected editor position reinstated.

Now another Heath, current Texan editor Ben Heath, takes the Quisling position that the Texan should surrender its editor position and be appointed by a handful of faculty and student representatives on the Texas Student Board of Publications. He does not trust democracy. He does not trust the student body.

Both Heaths were wrong. Ben Heath's compass is terribly askew. I need not go into the long history of the Texan's successful fight for freedom, as that history is well documented at Godwin's Law. Just as the Republic of Texas was born with a fight that resulted in great sacrifice at the Alamo, the editors of the Texan in the past have fought the cause of freedom of expression for the students with great sacrifice and with continued attack against its freedom.

The Texan has two major positions: editor and managing editor. The editor handles the editorial page and is elected by the student body. The managing editor handles the news side (hard news, sports, entertainment, budget) and is appointed by the TSP Board. Mixing the two leads to mischief.

The elected editor has to get out of the Texan's basement office and meet the students, make his or her positions known over a campaign of weeks, and prove his or her mettle. An appointed editor would have to prove his mettle in a 15-minute interview and otherwise prove that he or she is the fair-haired star of the TSP Board.

At least 25 past editors are currently developing a campaign for the Texan to keep its editor elected. Hopefully, the Texan will run our collective letter to the editor. The Texan has already run the highly informative letter advocating election from former editor ('69-'70) Mark Morrison, now managing editor of Business Week magazine. In 2001, the former editors successfully fought a move to convert from an elected to an appointed position. See our then position.

Time is short. The TSP meeting is set at a late hour on a Friday just before final exams, so as not to incur significant opposition. The student body needs to take effective action to stop the conversion of the Texan editor position from an elected to an appointed slot. In the past, student government has risen to the challenge by passing resolutions and ordering surveys. The freedom of the Texan is now in the hands of the students. Students should act now to save the Texan's freedom.