Meet the Staff: Laura Krantz – University Star Director and SJMC Faculty Member


Lecturer Laura Krantz is the new director at the University Star, the Texas State University student newspaper. Originally from Houston, Laura moved to Albuquerque as a junior in high school and later attended The University of New Mexico where she graduated with degrees in English and Journalism. She spent eight years working in media and earned her Master’s Degree in Communication from Stephen F. Austin State University. She has worked as a department chair and junior college student media adviser for 10 years.

She is excited to be part of the pivotal time in a person’s life — the college years — and encourage them to do their best work and usher them out into the “real world.” At Texas State University, Laura loves teaching MC 1313 and seeing students learn the purpose and mechanics of media writing.

Laura likes to watch students who love journalism come onto a college campus and find their “tribe.” Laura’s office at the University Star is always open for students to get advice, so be sure to meet Laura and welcome her to Texas State!


Emily Sharp in D.C.

The 2017 Presidential Inauguration was one for the books. As protestors, supporters, heads-of-state and average citizens filled the Capitol building and its grounds on Jan. 20, members of the University Star joined their ranks to cover the big event. Editor-in-chief Emily Sharp attended both the presidential inauguration and the Women’s March, while also covering the Texas State Strutters’ performance for the school newspaper. Sharp sat down with us and shared her experience in Washington, D.C. and attending these historical events.

Q: How did the opportunity come about?

A: “The Friday before we left, we brought it up with our advisor and told him we would love to go but didn’t know if we had the funds for it. He told us he could make that happen and pay for it using travel funds that the University Star had. Going and covering the Strutters’ first-hand was an opportunity we didn’t want to miss. While we were sitting there talking about it, I asked if there was enough money for two people to go. I didn’t want my news editor, Bri, to go alone. It would be dangerous and with the amount of stories to cover, one person wouldn’t be enough. Within two hours they informed us that everything was being sorted out by the travel office and told us that we were going.”


Photo by Emily Sharp and Bri Watkins

Q: From a journalism and historical standpoint, how important was attending this event to you?

A: “Any inauguration, being able to go to that, for many people, is a once-in-a-lifetime chance, and I don’t know if I’d be able to do that again. That alone was a lot but also the Women’s March, which itself is probably going to be in history books. It was just another thing that I couldn’t believe I got to be a part of. As far as the Strutters’ performance, the university needed to cover something as big as that.”

Q: How do you feel about the backlash received from Texas State students about the stutters performing?

A: “I understand that some people are going to be unhappy about it. I think regardless of the election results people would still be upset that the Strutters attending. Regardless of that, they [the Strutters] get to add to their list of performances that they got to do. They’ve performed in China, they’ve performed at past presidential inaugurations, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It was a great opportunity for those girls to experience performing on a stage that large.”


Photo by: Emily Sharp and Bri Watkins

Q: What were some main takeaways from attending the inauguration?

A: “Security was ridiculous. I have never seen anything like that up close. The biggest thing I noticed during the inauguration was the split in the people. Whoever went up and spoke had a huge crowd reaction. There were never only polite claps for whoever was up there. Both from the protesters nearby and the people attending the inauguration, there was noise. It was crazy to see the divide so clearly and see all the different types of people. We see a little bit of that on campus, but it’s different to see it on a national scale of people from all around the world.”

Q: What was the Women’s March like?

A: “I noticed the contrast between the people the most. Both [the inauguration and Women’s March] had amazing people and both had not-so-great people. I was so surprised how peaceful the Women’s March was, especially with the slightly violent protest the day before. We expected to see Trump supporters in the streets, but we didn’t see any of that. If we did see someone wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, nobody was calling them out. It was all very peaceful and I think that was the best way to get their message across. It was huge! It sounded like when you get concessions at a game and you hear the roar of the crowd — that’s what it sounded like throughout the whole city. We were 30 minutes away, walking to our hotel, and you could still hear the roar. It was crazy to see, and the thing I remember the most is seeing the wide variety of ages, types, color — everybody that you could think of to be represented was there. It was something I feel like I’m going to remember for my whole life. Talking to people from both sides really humanized it for me.”

Q: Was there anything that took you by surprise?

A: “The participating peacefully took me by surprise. The amount of security took me by surprise. A lot of people up there [Washington, D.C.] were saying that they’ve never seen that amount of security before. That was interesting to see, I expected to see security but not that amount of security. You felt fenced in everywhere you went, like at any moment you could be trapped in an area. Gates and fences everywhere. They also changed the parade route last minute, so that was a huge surprise. Luckily, we were still able to catch the Strutters. Another thing that took me by surprise was the attendance at the inauguration. The sections were not filled up at all. I was expecting there to be a lot more protesters as well as supporters.”

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to say about your trip as a whole?

A: “I’m really thankful that we got the chance to go. just to be able to record the Strutters’ performance. That has gotten so much attention, there have been people who reached out to us and thanked us for covering it. It was a crazy trip with little sleep but it was so worth it to get these historical aspects and bring them back to Texas State with our coverage on it. There were people from all over following it because we were one of the many news sources covering it. I think if people can, they should attend celebrations of different points of view because that’s the only way to grow and understand. That’s why I do what I do.”

Society of Professional Journalists to honor University Star staff

University Star Logo

Photo Credit:

The Society of Professional Journalists will recognize five student-journalists from the University Star at the historic Hilton Hotel in Fort Worth on March 18 and 19 for its Region 8 Mark of Excellence convention.

Region 8 is Texas and Oklahoma. If any students take first place, they automatically move on to the national competition, where they are judged against all the regions. Students receiving awards are Quixem Ramirez, Madison Teague, Brandon Sams, Monique Guerrero and Jon Wilcox.

“If you would see the way these students work, it’s just amazing to me the bond that’s here,” said Bob Bajackson, SJMC Senior Lecturer and Director of Student Publications. “I think the awards that they are able to accomplish, it’s just incredible.”

The SPJ committee will also recognize the University Star for its student-redesigned website.

“The website content has just exploded,” said Bajackson. “Last month we had over 30,000 page views.”

The University Star was formed in 1911 and is the oldest publication on campus.

Becky Larson | photo credit:

Becky Larson | photo credit:

The SPJ will also honor graduate student Becky Larson, who has a project as a finalist. Larson’s project tells the important story of the clash of Austin gentrification and the live music scene through loud music noise complaints.

“She did a fantastic job assimilating a range of new skills, identifying a data set and creating interactive elements that were relevant to our theme of telling stories about music with data,” said Dr. Cindy Royal, SJMC Associate Professor and Digital Media Sequence Coordinator.

Larson’s project was supported by a grant from the Knight Foundation and Online News Association.

“I am so pleased that the SPJ judges recognized this type of storytelling,” said Dr. Royal.

Texas State Excels at TIPA Awards

TIPAlogoTexas State students impressed last week, scooping up numerous awards from the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association.

The awards included top spots across each media category.

The staff at The University Star, Texas State’s newspaper, won Best of Show while members of the team picked up individual first-place prizes in Newspaper Design, Sports Feature Writing and News Features.

KTSW 89.9, The Other Side of Radio, scooped first place for their Commercial, PSA or Promo work as well as for their Production.

The student-produced television newscast Bobcat Update also won a number of awards; for their Sports and News non-feature work, their Sportscasting and Announcing.

See below for a full list of Texas State’s awards and winners.

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University Star participates in Global News Relay 2015

Texas State University’s own student newspaper, The University Star, was chosen as one of 10 universities to participate in Global News Relay 2015, an annual newscast coordinated by the University of Salford, UK. Global News Relay links up students from universities across the globe to produce more than 2 hours of continuous broadcast news.

Poverty around the world, #GlobalNewsPoverty, was this year’s chosen broadcast topic. The newscast included 15-minute segments from six universities in the U.S. and universities and colleges in India, Australia, Dubai and the U.K.

Check out The University Star‘s news broadcast in the link provided below (Texas State’s segment begins at 45:41).


Strategic Opportunities for Students to Transfer to Texas State

Harry BowersOn November 24, Assistant Director Harry Bowers met with Marianne Odem, Chair of the Media Communication Department at San Antonio College (SAC), and members of her faculty. The goal of the meeting was to review changes to both schools’ institutional core and program curricula, and to review and develop strategies to maximize opportunities for two-year college students planning to transfer to Texas State. Assistant Director, Bowers was honored to be informed by SAC that the School of Journalism and Mass Communication is about the most student-centered institution that San Antonio College has worked with in assisting transfer students.

For more information about The Media Communication Department at the San Antonio College (SAC), please visit

Texas Monthly intern: Be Passionate to Land Internships

Taylor Tompkins standing outside The University Star building

Taylor Tompkins is currently the news editor for The University Star and editorial intern for Texas Monthly

By Leslie Warren:

For journalism junior Taylor Tompkins, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC) has been invaluable to her success.

“Opportunities offered through The University Star and SJMC have provided me with real-life tools,” Tompkins said. “No other school could have prepared me as thoroughly as SJMC has.”

Tompkins is currently an editorial intern at Texas Monthly magazine in downtown Austin and news editor at The University Star at Texas State University.

At Texas Monthly, Tompkins is responsible for transcribing interviews, researching, working on data projects, and doing background reporting for journalists.

She applied for Texas Monthly in October 2013 and was hired in early December.

“I was actually turned down initially,” Tompkins said. “They wanted seniors, so they told me to apply in the fall. However, they really liked my resume and were really impressed by my work, so they emailed me the next day and said they opened a position for me even though I was only a junior.”

Tompkins said her Texas Monthly internship has significantly improved her skills as a journalist.

“Transcribing reporters’ interviews sounds boring, but it really has helped me hone and develop my own skills by listening to how they ask questions and using [their techniques] in my own work,” Tompkins said.

Tompkins credits SJMC classes for providing her the skills necessary to obtain this internship.

“It has just been so great,” Tompkins said. “I would recommend this program to anyone.”

To students looking for internships at Texas Monthly, the The University Star, or elsewhere, Tompkins gives the following advice:

“Show that you are eager and passionate about what you are doing,” Tompkins said. “I think they would rather hire someone who is eager and passionate than someone who has more experience but no enthusiasm. You can teach good reporting, but you cannot force someone to care or become a go-getter. I think that is how I have gotten every internship I ever applied for.”

Edit: Taylor Tompkins has completed her internship at Texas Monthly.

Texas State Student Media Organizations win awards at TIPA



The School of Journalism & Mass Communication is proud to congratulate students who competed in the 2014 Texas Intercollegiate Press Association convention (TIPA). Students media organizations The University Star, KTSW 89.9 FM and Bobcat Update submitted productions, articles and recordings against college media organizations from around Texas. Below is a list of awards given to each organization.

The University Star

Place Category Name Title
1st Overall General Excellence Staff Division I (3 papers)
2nd Best of Show Staff Division I entire paper
3rd Editorial Cartoon Laura Shine “City Planning”
Honorable Mention Single Subject Design Lee Moran “Football Season Preview”
3rd Page One Design Lee Moran “November 12, 2013”
3rd Sports Page Design Lee Moran “Page C2 – December 4, 2013”
Honorable Mention Information Graphic Lee Moran “Room to grow”
Honorable Mention News Story Taylor Tompkins “Suspect in double homicide found dead”
3rd Sports Feature Story Quixem Ramirez “John Parker”
1st Feature Photo Austim Humphreys “Kaylee and Danielle”
1st News Photo Austin Humphreys “Bus Lane Only”
2nd Editorial Page Design Staff “Page 4 – October 3, 2013”
3rd Feature Page Design Lee Moran “Daily Deals”
3rd Feature Story Jordan Gass-Poore “Bowling in a life-long passion”
2nd Editorial Staff “Report Card”
2nd Special Section/Edition Staff “Back to School Issue”
3rd Best Community Engagement Staff
2nd Two-Person Photo Madelynne Scales, Austin Humphreys Live Contest
1st Spanish News Writing Liza Winkler Live Contest
1st PR Crisis Management Nicole Barrios Live Contest
1st News Writing Taylor Tompkins Live Contest
2nd Copy Editing Lesley Warren Live Contest


KTSW 89.9FM Radio

Place Category Name Title
1st Commercial, PSA Radio Colton Matocha, Evgeny Agarkov “Flu Prevention”
1st Production-Radio Taylor Wood, Josue Plaza, Sarah McGriff, Evgeny Agarkov “Stuck on a Bus: Final Episode”
2nd Best Recurring Podcast- Online Division 1 David Cavazos “Revolutions” & Monica Solis “Threads”
2nd Overall Excellence-Radio John Beck, Joe Pool, Becca Roberts, Ana Vaso, Olympia Mendoza KTSW Newscast
3rd Best Web Site Navigation-Online Division 1 Fernando Espinosa, Brandon Van Slyke
Honorable Mention Feature Story-Radio Sierra King “Therapy Dogs”
Honorable Mention Best Multimedia Package-Online Division Matthew Alvarez “Having Said That”
Honorable Mention Single Public Affairs Program-Radio Matthew Alvarez, Haley Brown, Harrison Keesee, Isamar Terazas, Lorenzo Almanza, Reynaldo Leanos Jr. “In the Public Interest: Campus Politics”


Bobcat Update

Place Category Name Title
3rd Televsion Announcing Skye Wallace
3rd Best Overall Newscast in Television Anchors: Valerie Kilgore, Zac Covey, Kalie Conley; Producer: Max Anderson “Bobcat Update Oct. 30th, 2014”
Honorable Mention Sportscast John Beck “April 17th, 2013”
3rd Sports Non-Feature Drew Bryant, Kali Conley “San Marcos building its own football stadium”
2nd Non-Feature Reporting Valerie Kilgore, Matt Uzick Package on flooding at the Fish Camp rental.”
2nd Audition Tape Valerie Kilgore
Honorable Mention Audition Tape Carlos Garcia

Student Organization of the Month: SPJ

The Society of Professional Journalists have been hard at work this semester as they’ve toured university and professional newsrooms, attended conferences and networked with professionals. Find out what they’ve been up to, and how you can be a part of the fun!

VP Katee Boyd accepting the Region 8 Chapter of the Year Award at the National Covention in Anaheim!

VP Katee Boyd accepting the Region 8 Chapter of the Year Award at the National Convention in Anaheim!

Organization Name: Texas State Society of Professional Journalists

Recent events:

  • Excellence in Journalism Convention in Anaheim, California: Our President, Jordan Gass-Poore’ and VP Katee Boyd, attended the Excellence in Journalism National SPJ Conference in Anaheim, Calif. last month, where they met professionals from all over the country and mingled with celebrities, such as Eva Longoria and Benjamin Bratt. Not to mention, a free trip to Disneyland! We are excited to announce that Texas State won Region 8 Student Chapter of the Year for 2012-2013, over all other schools in Texas and Oklahoma. Our goal this year is to not only take home that title again, but to win the National Student Chapter of the year. We hope to accept this award in Nashville, Tenn. where next year’s conference will be held.
  • September meeting: For our first event of the semester, we toured the offices of The University Star and KTSW.

Meeting times/location:
We are trying to keep our meetings fresh and flexible to our members, so we’re trying something new this year. We are planning to steer clear of the typical once-a-month meeting and instead gear them toward events and gatherings that promote networking and interaction amongst members and professionals. Because of this, we do not have a set time and location each month that we meet. If prospective members are interested in knowing more about our events, they can follow us on twitter @txstspj or “like” us on Facebook at Texas State Society of Professional Journalists. They can also send us an email at, and we will add them to our mailing list. They should also be able to spot our flyers around campus.

Plans for the future:
In October, we will be attending an event at Trinity University in San Antonio. In observance of the 40th anniversary of Watergate, journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who won a Pulitzer Prize for their reporting on the scandal, will discuss, “Inside the White House: From Nixon to Obama” at Trinity’s 2013 Distinguished Lecture Series. The event will be on Tuesday, Oct. 29, in Laurie Auditorium, at 7:30 p.m.

This semester, we will be touring the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung’s offices and printing press. We will also be setting up networking opportunities with professionals in our members fields of interest, so they can mingle and engage with them in a comfortable, non-intimidating environment. We plan on asking a professional to have a resume critique session, so that members can bring in their resume and get advice.

We will also sign up for Bobcat Build in the spring semester in order to give back to the community as an organization.

President: Jordan Gass-Poore’
Vice President: Katee Boyd
Secretary/Treasurer: Catherine O’hara
Membership/Recruitment: Haley House
Social Media: Erin Cantu
Photographer: Kim Sabatino
Fundraising Chair: Rachel Miller
Fundraising Committee: Virginia Alves and Nicole Barrios

Web Resources:
Facebook: Texas State Society of Professional Journalists
Twitter: @txstspj
Instagram: @txst_spj


Student Spotlight: Kolten Parker

Student Spotlight, Kolten Parker:

Bobcat Blog

Journalism senior gains experience at university newspaper, reports at State Capitol

By Andrew Osegi

Kolten Parker, senior at Texas State University, has worked hard to get where he is today.

Parker, 23, was born and raised in Stephenville, Texas, a city where dairy rules yet high school football is king. After graduating high school, Parker decided to stay close to home and pursue his first two years of higher education at Tarleton State University; however, he soon discovered a change of scenery was overdue.

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