10 Reasons I AM Thankful Today

Time to pause on this Thanksgiving Day 2014 to list just how many reasons I have to say “I’M THANKFUL.”

thanskgivingiamge RICHMOND, Va.–    As we reach the noon hour on this Thanksgiving Day 2014,  time to pause briefly and reflect on the reason our nation breaks with routine to celebrate each year on the fourth Thursday of November.

Millions like me travel back to their hometowns to re-connect with family and join together in giving thanks. There’s no place like your home to remind of who you of how far you’ve come and how far you have yet to go. I came up with 10 REASONS I am giving thanks today.

How many of them do you share with me?

A crowd of more than 300 packed the lower level of the sanctuary at Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church for Thanksgiving Service 2014.   The historic Sixth Mount Zion is located in Richmond's Jackson Ward community.
A crowd of more than 300 packed the lower level of the sanctuary at Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church for Thanksgiving Service 2014. The historic Sixth Mount Zion is located in Richmond’s Jackson Ward community.

1. I am Thankful for Life and Health

So many people have come and gone since last Thanksgiving.   In today’s Thanksgiving Day Message, Dr. A. Lincoln James, reminded us of the importance of just celebrating being here.   We cannot take for granted life itself and good health.

2. I am Thankful for A Family and A Home

Later this afternoon, I’ll sit down at a Thanksgiving Table with my extended family, some of whom have encountered health challenges over the past year.  But, it’s a joy to be able  to break bread with them another time.  My home of 44 years is intact, something a lot of people cannot say this Thanksgiving Day.

3. I am Thankful for A Great Work Environment and Co-workers

While I’m a long way from it today– Reese Phifer Hall where I work with a fantastic faculty as the assistant dean of administration for the College of Communication and Information Sciences is place of pleasure.  I am thankful to have a job and to be able to work every day with students, faculty and staff who are truly committed to what they do. This past year I’ve worked for both an interim dean and a new dean who challenged me to be better at what I do.  They’ve set a standard of excellence and lead by example.    I look forward to getting back to my co-workers and students next week.   I don’t take for granted this opportunity to love going to work every day at The University of Alabama.

4. I am Thankful for Safe Travels.

So far 2014 has been characterized by a good bit of travel to places near and far.   In spite of lost luggage along the way, I am thankful that I have arrived at each destination safely and mostly, on time (smile). Even in the hustle and bustle of my journeys, I have seen and experienced parts of our nation and world for the first time.  From Western Canada to Western North Carolina or two different regions of Texas and parts of Central Alabama, the travels have expanded my view of the world around me. Whether by car, train or plane, I thank God for safe travels to all of these places. gratefulgraphic

5. I am Thankful for the Opportunity to Make a Difference

I like the fact that in my work, I have the privilege of working with dozens of students every day.  I have an opportunity to make a difference in their lives and the lives of those in the community where I serve.   So I am thankful for the chance to see that I can make a difference every day that I’m alive.

6. I am Thankful To Be A Mentor and Be Mentored 

Both in my role as a faculty member and in various community organizations, I am blessed to be able to mentor young men and women even as I look to those who ave more experienced in life and can mentor me.   Both roles- mentor and mentee– are equally important and I’m grateful to be positioned to be and do both.

7. I am Thankful for Four Seasons

Here in Virginia, not too far from here, there was snow yesterday.   Early talk of a White Thanksgiving for Central Virginia went away even as those west of here experienced snowy weather 24 hours ago.  Usually I have to come home to Virginia to see snow, but in 2014, I experienced measurable snow in West Alabama last winter.   For the first time, I have leaves to rake in the backyard of my Tuscaloosa home and we’ve had our share of 90-degree heat.    It’s nice to have the four seasons even in the Deep South.

8. I am Thankful for A Vision to Make An Even Greater Impact on the World Around Me

God has given me a vision to be great at what I do so that I can impact those with whom I come in contact.  That vision has yet to be fully realized.  But, I am thankful that God has picked me to do such great things.

9. I am Thankful for Wisdom of  12 years in West Alabama

While many of my colleagues have shifted and re-adjusted in their work from place to place, now for more than a decade, I’ve been able to call West Alabama home away from home.   There’s something to be said for stability and being settled where you are even as you take in the wisdom of those around you.  I am thankful for job and career that places me in contact with those who have wisdom to share and shape my whole  lived experience. 2014image

10. I am Thankful for 33 More Days to Get It Right in 2014

For all of those things I still need to and want to do this year,  I still have time to make waves, accomplish more great things THIS year.   Even as I write this,  I am setting some 4 1/2 week personal goals for what I believe God will have me do before the New Year begins. Stay tuned!

San Antonio River Walk OK, but Not All That

Sorry if I’m a bit underwhelmed by San Antonio’s River Walk.

SAN ANTONIO–  What do the River Walk in San Antonio and Bryant-Denny Stadium on the University of Alabama campus in Tuscaloosa have in common?

Drum roll ……

They’re both the top tourist attractions in their respective states.

I was shocked to learn that the River Walk, which I took in Wednesday night at the end of my first day of my first visit to San Antonio, was the number-one tourist attraction in Texas.

Here's what I saw in San Antonio last night as I checked out the number-one Tourist destination in Texas.
Here’s what I saw in San Antonio last night as I checked out the number-one Tourist destination in Texas.


I mean — it’s nice and a great place to get some exercise and step away from the air conditioned convention center or hotel meeting rooms.

But, number-one in a large state like Texas?

I’m not sure this is quite the “destination” that the home of one of the top college football programs in the nation is.

I haven’t walked the entire route yet.   I only experienced part of it.   I haven’t visited The Alamo.    Maybe that’s what will seal the tourist deal for me.

Stay tuned.


San Antonio Express-News’ coverage of Becky Hammon Worth Going the Extra Mile To Hold In My Hand

The centerpiece on Becky Hammon in The San Antonio Express-News exemplifies the appeal of reading a national news story in the local newspaper where the story originated.

While people could find the text and perhaps a photo with this story online, reading it as it was “packaged” “above the fold” on page A1 of Wednesday’s San Antonio Express-News was part of its appeal.

SAN ANTONIO–  Call me old-fashioned.

But I took special delight in reading San Antonio Express-News‘ Mike Monroe’s front page story Wednesday about WNBA All-Star Becky Hammon being selected as the first female paid assistant coach in the NBA.

The announcement of Hammon’s hiring by the San Antonio Spurs made national news.

The historic nature of her hire makes it a national news story.

Local Makes a Difference

But, the national media coverage (i.e. Andrew Keh’s story buried on page B13 of The New York Times) of it does not compare to the way the story was played in the paper in the hometown of the Spurs.

Along with the front page story  that included more than the expected quotes and statement from yeah management, there was Terrence Thomas’ “reaction piece” featuring Hammon’s female teammates and a perspective offered only by Roy Bragg, who’s been a Texas journalist for more than 30 years.

Those other related stories were in the SPORTS section of the Express-News.

On page A2, the paper promotes “Tomorrow’s front-page stories now available at 10:30 every night, exclusively on ExpressNews.com.

Discovered veteran sports journalism Roy Bragg while reading a print edition of The San Antonio Express-News Wednesday.
I discovered veteran sports journalist Roy Bragg’s work while reading a print edition of The San Antonio Express-News Wednesday.

Why was it important for me to read this piece Tuesday night?  I’m not sure SPEED was the motivation for me to know the story.

The perspective that only this publication provides is reason enough for it to land on my front step the next day.

And, I know the issue is not one of medium, but reader preference.

The business model doesn’t work if people like me are in the shrinking smaller and smaller minority.

But, daily newspapers all over the country are hastening their demise by making their product harder and harder to find.

Go the Extra Mile

The absolute shame is that I had to go to three locations just to find the publication.  At my hotel, I was told the Express-News delivers so few copies that if you don’t come to the gift shop within 1 hour of it opening, the papers are gone.

What’s wrong with this picture?    Is the Circulation Department at The Express-News that afraid that they will have leftover papers, so they don’t deliver many copies so they sell out in an hour?   Why not deliver 3 times as many newspapers?

I know when I’m on a plane or sitting in a restaurant, I’m usually the only one turning the pages of a newspaper while others are tapping away on their smart phones or tablets.

So that explains why this Hearst newspaper, traditionally one of the four largest papers in the state of Texas, is hard to find.

They say All Politics is Local. I enjoy reading about those politics when I visit a town in the local paper, especially when it has a national reputation.

The story in Wednesday’s Express-News about a controversial proposal to increase the storm-water utility fee was interesting to me.   It was “packaged” along with a column by David Hendricks on the BUSINESS page.

I know I’m old-fashioned.

But,  reading the local paper has an appeal that will never be replicated in an e-edition or on Twitter or some other electronic means.


Baton Rouge Visit Provides Lessons in LSU Lore

Here are a few photos from LSU campus as the Scripps Howard Academic Leadership Academy continues in the Manship School of Mass Communication.

BATON ROUGE– The Scripps Howard Academic Leadership Academy provided an excellent opportunity for lessons in all things purple and gold.

In between learning about ourselves and leadership styles,  there have been a few moments to interact with Mike, the LSU Tiger and take in the scenes around the Journalism Building, which houses the Manship School of Mass Communication.

Here's a different vantage point to appreciate the Journalism Building at LSU.
Here’s a wide shot to appreciate the Journalism Building at LSU.
Purple and Gold blooms are part of the surroundings of the Journalism Building, which houses the Manship School of Mass Communication, our home for at least two more days.  The area around this building, only a few feet from Tiger Stadium is just beautiful.
Purple and Gold blooms are part of the surroundings of the Journalism Building, which houses the Manship School of Mass Communication, our home for this week. The area around this building, only a few feet from Tiger Stadium is just beautiful.
An afternoon trip to Mike, the Tiger's habitat turned out to be disappointed as the LSU mascot was napping next to the fence.   we didn't think it was right to try to awaken him.
An afternoon trip to Mike, the Tiger’s habitat turned out to be disappointing as the LSU mascot was napping next to the fence. we didn’t think it was right to try to awaken him.


Sports Talk at Texas Tech Provides Chance to Meet Terrific Students, Faculty

Monday I gave a lunchtime lecture, “Researching Sports Media When You’re Not a Sports Fan,” in the College of Media and Communication at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

LUBBOCK, Texas–   Even though I am here for the 12th Engagement Scholarship Consortium on the Texas Tech campus this week, my visit to the new College of Media and Communication building for a lecture Monday is probably what I will remember most.

The Question-and-answer period was one of the best parts of my talk Monday at the Texas Tech College of Media and Communication.
The Question-and-answer period was one of the best parts of my talk Monday at the Texas Tech College of Media and Communication.was what I will remember the most.

My brown bag lecture,  “Researching Sports Media When You’re Not a Sports Fan,” drew a nice crowd of faculty and students interested in sports and media diversity, two topics that have claimed a lot of my scholarly attention this year.

I am so grateful to  Drs. Kent Wilkinson and Weiwu Zhang for inviting me over to talk about my research, even while I’m in town to dialogue on community engagement projects.

What great questions from the doctoral students in the audience Monday!   In the process, I learned about a new NFL rule on hiring that would inform my research.  Another student who graduated from an HBCU has become a new colleague.

And, I got a chance to catch up with two of our  Alabama grads– Glenn Cummins and Kevin Stoker while getting acquainted with a Florida graduate, Trent Seltzer, who chairs the Public Relations and Advertising unit here.  Did I mention, I also re-connected with a fellow UGA grad, Geoffrey Graybeal, who’s the media entrepreneurship guru at Texas Tech.

Even though Texas Tech is one of the original Big 12 schools,  there’s a whole lot of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) sown into the faculty just in the College of Media and Communication alone.

I will recap some of the points of my talk over on the Alabama SportsCom blog a little later.

Weeklong Visit to Lubbock Begins With Texas Cuisine, New Impressions of the “Hub City”

Getting a chance to gain a new perspective on West Texas this week on a five-day visit to Lubbock for the Engagement Scholarship Consortium’s 12th Annual Meeting hosted by Texas Tech University.

This file photo of Broadway entrance to Texas Tech University doesn't quite capture the spirit on campus during this homecoming week.
This file photo of Broadway entrance to Texas Tech University doesn’t quite capture the spirit on campus during this homecoming week.

LUBBOCK, Texas— For the first time in 12 years, I am back in the region known as West Texas as we begin a five-day visit to the town known as the home of the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

The last time I was on the Tech campus was a few months before 9/11 in 2001 for the National Black Graduate Student Association.

Boy, a lot has changed in this college town since then.

A whole new side of town has been built that includes the host conference center where the 12th Annual Engagement Scholarship Consortium is taking place.

The Overton Hotel and Conference Center has been housing our meetings the last two days.

If Sunday’s brunch and yesterday ‘s breakfast is any indication, the Pecan Grill will be a great memory.  They have venison burgers at this restaurant.  I’m not sure I’m brave enough to try one of those.

My friends and colleagues from Texas Tech’s College of Media and Communication have introduced me to one chain and one local restaurant.

I have to say the salmon and the crab cakes were memorable at the Texas Land & Cattle location here in Lubbock.     I did some research and found there are more than 20 locations of this restaurant around the Lone Star State.    And, there is even a location closer to my hometown– Richmond, Va.  in Concord, NC.   I will make a point to visit this restaurant again.

But, Lubbock should be proud of what Billy Rizzo’s and Stella’s Restaurant has to offer.   While’s it’s known for its Italian cuisine,  I thoroughly enjoyed the seafood there.    The trout and the vanilla bread pudding were most memorable at this restaurant.

As the intensity of the conference increases today and we’re offered boxed lunches at the Student Union on the Texas Tech campus,  the cuisine will be a little less memorable.  But,  I’m glad my week here is off to such a great, yummy start!

Reporting on A Great Mother’s Day With My Mom

Time to reflect on what a great day I had with my mother, Sallie White Daniels and family ack in my hometown of Richmond, Va.

RICHMOND, Va.– Mother’s Day is supposed to be about honoring mothers.  But, even as I reflect on Mother’s Day 2013, I can’t help but say how memorable THIS ONE will be.

For many people, Mother’s Day is a Greeting Card day, a phone call of a holiday.  For the first time in more than a decade, I was able to be HOME to celebrate Mother’s Day WITH MY MOTHER, Sallie Daniels,  in PERSON.

The weather here in VIrginia’s Capital City was PERFECT– time for a photo of mom in our garden outside our Richmond home.

This is my mom next to hear 2013 garden where the lavender plants match her Mother’s Day outfit. The recent rainy Richmond weather has been a good thing for our garden.


Today’s worship service gave me an opportunity to see so many mothers  and mother figures at my beloved First African Baptist Church who played a major role in my development as both a child and a young adult.

Courtesy:First African Baptist Church
Courtesy:First African Baptist Church

Before a service of Holy Communion, my home pastor, Dr. Rodney Waller reminded us about “The Philosophy of a Mother’s Faith.”  He based his message on the first five verses of  the fifth chapter of First John.  Because our mother’s faith was instilled in us,  there are  THREE THINGS we as Christians know for sure:

  1. If you love Christ, you are a child of God.
  2. If you’re a child of God, you ought to love each other  (we’re not in this world alone)
  3. If you’re a child of God, you ought to ACT like a child of God living out the commandments of God

While these points weren’t earth-shattering, they certainly were important to place in the context what I believe based on the foundation laid by my mother. No one can put it quite like Dr. Rodney Waller can.

One of my schoolmates from Thomas Jefferson High School, Lynette Archer Brownlee ministered a rendition of Tamela Mann’s “Take Me to the King” and that just topped off a beautiful Mother’s Day Service, a MEMORABLE Mother’s Day Service.

It’s been a few years since my younger brother and I were both here on Mother’s Day and able to sit next to our Aunt Zora Royster in church.

But, this Mother’s Day was not over yet.


With a cool breeze blowing off the lake behind my cousin’s home,  the weather was perfect for grilling out and enjoying a Mother’s Day barbeque with mom and the rest of my family.

PHOTO OP with THE MOTHERS in MY FAMILY– Mom (Sallie Daniels), my cousin Ivette Royster and my aunt Zora Royster

As much as I love the folks back in Alabama,  there is NO PLACE LIKE HOME.

I can’t wait to come back later this summer for more rest and relaxation.

Happy Mother’s Day Mommy!

Scenes From Day 2 in Phoenix, Arizona

It’s Day 2 of my visit to Phoenix and here are three photos from the events so far today.

PHOENIX–  Before getting down to the nuts and bolts of entrepreneurial journalism, I had a great opportunity today to knock out two items on my  5-item  “To Do” List  for my visit here.phoenixfilings

There is still much to write about what I’ve seen and experienced at the Arizona State Capitol Museum and AZCentral.com/KPNX-TV  But for now,

Here a three visuals gathered along the way today:

It’s been about two years since KPNX-TV 12 News moved into the same building with its sister publication, The Arizona Republic on Van Buren Street. Today I not only visited the facility for the first time and talked with editors at both the newspaper and the television station, but also sat in on an afternoon news planning meeting involving the news producers for KPNX-TV. The unique nature of this operation makes it a must-see for those enthusiastic about convergence/multi-platform reporting.
I can now officially add Arizona to my list of State Capitols that I’ve visited. The original capitol building is now just a museum to the 100-year history of Arizona as a state and the decades prior to 1912 when it was a territory. The lessons learned about the 48th State are many.
OK– another sweatshirt to sport from a trip for which I was under-prepared. But this one allowed me to blend in with the “local crowd.” With the very chilly morning air, this sweatshirt came in handy and it wasn’t that expensive. Turns out my favorite color– blue, is one of the state colors for Arizona.

Day 1 of Phoenix Visit Defined by Cold Weather, Cotton Candy

Met with unseasonably cool weather in Phoenix as I arrived on Day 1 of a five-day trip to Arizona State University.

PHOENIX–  Day 1 of the visit to Arizona’s capital city was definitely a day of  three words that start with a “C”-  Cold,  Cotton Candy.

A view of downtown Phoenix from 15 stories up. Despite the cold conditions on New Year’s Day, this breathtaking view was enough to forget the shivers for a minute.

I’ll save the description of the latter until the end of this first update from Phoenix where the Scripps-Howard Journalism Entrepreneurship Institute kicks off this afternoon at Arizona State University’s Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

phoenixfilingsThe New Year’s Day cross-country flight ran on time and soon as I exited Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport, the cool air hit me.   I said “wow, this doesn’t feel like the warm, resort city that is often viewed as a desirable bowl game destination.”

Continue reading “Day 1 of Phoenix Visit Defined by Cold Weather, Cotton Candy”

Venturing Back to the Valley of the Sun

Besides attending the Scripps-Howard Entrepreneurial Journalism Institute at Arizona State University, I have five goals in mind for a weeklong trip to the Valley of the Sun, my fourth opportunity to spend time in Phoenix, Arizona’s state capital.

Today marks the first in a series of posts on a trip to the Southwestern United States, to one of the few areas of the country where they don’t observe Daylight-Saving Time.

phoenixfilingsI’m talking about Arizona, which sometimes has the same time as California in the summer and is one hour ahead of California this time of year.

I’ll be spending at least part of six days in this state, the longest ever, an exciting thing, especially for one whose hometown is Richmond, Va.

It will be my fourth trip to the region.

Continue reading “Venturing Back to the Valley of the Sun”