In a post on her Gray Matters site, the Houston Chronicle’s Lisa Gray has used the announcement that the paper is moving to the old Houston Post building to collect memories about the Post from former staffers and others. I have never set foot in that building, but I will always be grateful to those who did.
Lisa’s post includes a comment from me that the Post was the first professional paper to publish my columns. There’s a little more to the story. In mid-1985, I was writing a column and editing the opinion page for The Battlation, the student newspaper at Texas A&M. One of my professors (Don Sneed, for any former Batt-ratts reading this) got an op-ed published in the Post and the editor, Charles Rankin, mentioned that the Post was always on the lookout for younger voices to put on the opinion pages. The professor suggested I send them something.
So I mailed a dot-matrix printout of a column I wrote about some controversy involving the Doonesbury cartoon strip. The Post not only published it, they paid me $50.
From then on, I would send the Post pieces from time to time, and over the next couple of years I probably had a dozen or so that appeared in print. I tried something similar with the Chronicle, but it didn’t pay for op-eds, so I focused on the Post. Some of my columns even generated responses from readers in Houston.
I had hoped to parlay the opportunity into an editorial internship that the Post offered under Lynn Ashby, but my wife got an internship for her master’s working Dallas. So we moved there and I became a business writer. But I will always be grateful to the Post for giving me my first taste of big city journalism.