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FLASHBACK: The Fourth Estate is back - Odessa American: Celinda Hawkins

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FLASHBACK: The Fourth Estate is back

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Posted: Sunday, August 18, 2013 6:00 am

The “Fourth Estate” is back at UTPB.

Well, it never really went away — folks just couldn’t find it.

As newspapers across the country fold or cut back the print editions, it is always news, especially these days, when a publication goes into print. And I am proud to announce that on Friday, The Mesa Journal, the campus newspaper for UTPB, officially went back in to print after being an online-only publication for two years.

Now it is official: The Mesa Journal does exist, not just as a PDF file buried deep in the official website of UTPB, but now as a tangible publication, ready for reading and perusal.

As the student advisor for The Mesa Journal, I am extremely proud of the staff and of those staff members in the past who kept the paper on life support while UTPB weathered the storm through budget cuts.  The Mesa Journal has not been printed since the summer of 2011.

The electric shock from the paddles that brought the paper back to life came in May, when the print budget was restored by the UTPB administration.

Almost two years ago, when I interviewed with UTPB president Dr. David Watts, he asked me what I thought about an online only newspaper.

“I’m old school,” I told him. “I like to hold a newspaper in my hands and read it. It just doesn’t feel right any other way.”

He agreed.

Last week, he told the OA that taking The Mesa Journal out of print may have been premature.

“The move to online only was an experiment encouraged by limited resources,” Watts told the OA.

And as an added bonus, we will have a new website too that is currently under construction and will be up and running by next week.

Friday was an especially proud day indeed, because The Mesa Journal is where I began my career as a print journalist 20 years ago.

And I hope the late, great Dr. Bob Rothstein, the father of journalism at UTPB, is smiling down on us from heaven as once again The Mesa Journal rolls off the presses.

I’ll never forget when he was advising me on my path he asked “print or electronic?” and in slow motion I remember saying “p-r-i-n-t.” Dr. Rothstein was indeed my mentor and as I moved on to other newspapers during my career, I called him for advice and sent him special sections from time to time.

Lo those many years ago, when The Mesa Journal was located on the first floor of the Mesa Building at UTPB, we were quite a busy newspaper. In those days we had a staff of about 10 or so and a full-time editor. Today, our staff is about half that but they are all hard working and dedicated.

I remember fondly the first event I covered for The Mesa Journal in 1994, when Gov. Ann Richards proclaimed that UTPB would be a four-year university. She was actually the first politician I ever met, and at the time, I was a terrified, shy and very green reporter.

As the other reporters started gathering to get their interviews, she made a point to walk right past them and gave The Mesa Journal the first interview. I’ll never forget that. The headlines in The Mesa Journal and in the Odessa American read simply “Thanks Ann.”

And great days are ahead for The Mesa Journal.

As UTPB grows, we are looking forward to doing some serious reporting in The Mesa Journal. And since we are back in print, we will also be reaching out to the community for ad sales.

It’s a win-win for everybody.

Odessa, TX

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