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2009-2010 editor in chief receives Headliners Foundation scholarship, meets Dan Rather at luncheon

Published: Thursday, May 20, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 21:07

dan rather, amanda casanova

The Battalion

Amanda Casanova, senior English major and journalism minor at Texas A&M University, received a $3,000 scholarship from the Headliners Foundation in Austin, Texas. She was honored at a luncheon Saturday featuring Dan Rather as the speaker.

Amanda Casanova, senior English major and journalism minor at Texas A&M University, received a $3,000 scholarship from the Headliners Foundation in Austin, Texas. She was honored at a luncheon Oct. 24, 2009, featuring Dan Rather as the speaker.

Rather, a native Texan, said he wanted to be a journalist at a young age. Casanova started in the seventh grade. "She did a newspaper for our street, it was called the Ginnway Gazette," said Teresa Casanova, Casanova's mom. "It was just a one-pager and she would feature one of the kids in neighborhood, or if a family was going out of town on vacation and she would write about it."

Casanova, of Lufkin, Texas, is the editor in chief of The Battalion, the daily student newspaper of Texas A&M. She leads a group of about 80 student journalists.

Rather, former CBS anchor and current host of Dan Rather Reports on HDNet, shared advice with the 15 scholarship recipients from the University of Texas, Texas Christian University, Texas State University and Texas A&M. He said journalism has always been a tough field.

"It's always tough in journalism. To do it and enjoy it … more importantly, to make it, you have to burn with a hot, hard flame. It's tough to make it; it's tough to stay in it; it's tough to climb the ladder. You have to be lucky; you have to be in the right place at the right time. To have the perseverance is very, very important. Either you can say to yourself now: I burn with that hot, hard flame to do it; I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I have a passion to do it. Or, you can say to yourself, maybe I don't have it, but I think I could develop it. But, if the answer is no to both of those, then now is probably a good time to think about doing something else. One of the things about journalism is it's not predictable."

Rather hopes to see students practice quality journalism of integrity. The kind of journalism that pulls no punches, plays no favorites, is willing to speak truth to power, wants to get as close to the truth as one can and to be honest brokers of information. "That's the iron core of journalism," he said.

Casanova is confronted with the many issues that print journalism encounters today as it moves into the new media age.

"We will be exploring our Web site's capabilities, taking on new marketing measures and looking at more interactivity with readers," Casanova said. "Our responsibility, however, lies in the student body and the production of a quality newspaper. Whether we beef up our Web site or join the Twitter nation, we will still not change from providing relevant content to A&M." 

Casanova spent this summer interning in Abilene at the Abilene Reporter-News as a general assignment reporter and interned last year at her hometown paper, The Lufkin Daily News.

"I was a general assignment reporter, meaning one day I could be chasing a drive-by shooting, watching planes land in Sweetwater, tracking down a guy who posted signs throughout town apologizing to his girlfriend, interviewing returning airmen and their families or all of the above," Casanova said.

Casanova has a set of goals she wishes to accomplish while editor in chief, but believes through the education of reporters and consistent communication with other student organizations and administrators, The Battalion will succeed in its purpose.

"We are to be a watchdog of the administration and produce accurate and interesting content daily for readers," Casanova said. "Battalion reporters are to be the eyes, ears and voice of A&M and to uphold the Aggie Honor Code through integrity of the press."

Rather was inspired by the student journalists he met at the luncheon atop the 21st floor of the Chase Tower in downtown Austin.

"I hope you do burn with the hot, hard flame," Rather said. He suggested ways for student journalists to continue the tradition of the iron core and ways to protect the future of America's democracy. "Free, independent — truly independent, fiercely independent when necessary — journalism is the breath, beating heart of freedom and democracy. It isn't just for those of us in journalism to talk about a crisis in journalism, it is something that the whole country should care about."

Patrique Ludan, Battalion staff writer and sophomore physics major contributed to this report.


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