KUT’s Joy Diaz Dishes on Texas Demographics

By: Trey Schmedt

AUSTIN, Texas — Joy Diaz, producer and reporter for the Texas Standard, a radio show produced by KUT 90.5, visited Dr. David Junker’s PR 348 class to speak to students about the changing demographics in Texas on Nov. 16.

Originally from Mexico, Diaz and her husband moved to the U.S. in 1998. She joined KUT in 2005 and is now a senior reporter for the station, but she is also a producer for the KUT radio show the Texas Standard. During her time with KUT, she has covered Austin news and politics, education, healthcare and immigration.

KUT is an NPR affiliate station, so the Texas Standard is carried by 30 stations around the state. The show prides itself on setting a new bar for broadcast news coverage, offering crisp, up-to-the-moment coverage of politics, lifestyle and culture, the environment, technology and business – from a Texas perspective.

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Joy Diaz, Texas Standard reporter and producer, talks about the demographic makeup of Texas and why we should be aware of it (photo: Wesley Story).

During the lecture, Diaz played a recording of a story she produced last year, “If Texas Had Only 100 People This Is What It Would Look Like” featuring demographer Lloyd Potter. The story claimed that 26 people would not have internet at home and 35 people speak a different language at home. Diaz then asked the classroom full of students why they thought she played the recording.

“As reporters it is important to know the people we are serving,” Diaz said. “For public relations, it is important you know the people you want to reach”

Texas is a very technologically driven state, yet over a quarter of Texas residents do not have internet at home. This means that when messages are solely placed online around 7.4 million people in Texas may not see that message. Diaz wants students to think about this when crafting pitches to various news media outlets.

“That was a great point made by Diaz,” PR 348 student Allyson Reithmeier said. “We must think creatively to reach as many people as possible in a big state like Texas.”

Texas is much more diverse than many Texans realize. Over a third of Texas residents speak a different language at home. This means if messages are only presented in English, then nearly 6 million people may be unable to understand that message. Diaz encouraged the students to strongly consider learning a second language to help them better market themselves in the professional world.

“I chose to take Spanish here at UT because I believe it will set me apart from other applicants when I’m looking for my first job,” said PR 348 student Andres Farrera.

The state of Texas is changing right before our eyes. We now live in a very technological and diverse state, and this change is also affecting how Texans hear and read their news. Diaz finished her lecture by emphasizing that it’s our job as future public relationship professionals to proactively adjust to this changing media landscape.


Student Profile: Carter Pittman


At the plaza outside of the communication buildings (photo: Lainey Gonzales).

Name: Carter Pittman

Major: Public Relations with a minor in Business

Fun Background Fact: In the summer of 2017 she drove to New York… Twice!

Career Plans/Interests: Would like to work in ministry or for a non-profit

If you could have a chicken coop, what would you name your chickens?
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

It’s 2017, Why Are We STILL Asking for Gun Control?

By Ricarsha Mobley

The next time you hear someone argue “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” remind them that people with guns kill people. Within 35 days of each other, two of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history occurred. Shootings have become so frequent that not even safe havens like places of worship and elementary schools are spared. But instead of making guns laws stricter and guns less prevalent, 45 of America’s 50 states allow open carry.

Rather than acknowledging that people with guns are the issue, gun lovers came up with the narrative: If there were more guns, the good people with guns could stop the bad people with guns. It’s not a bad argument—when you are talking about handguns. But what happens when someone is firing an assault rifle that can shoot and fire over 500 bullets per minute? What happens when it is easier to buy an assault rifle in Florida, where a shooter killed 49 people at Pulse nightclub, than it is to get a driver’s license?

Earlier this week, I watched a video uploaded by ABC News on Mel Bernstein, the most armed man in America. He owns over 4,000 weapons, 200 machine guns and tanks, all legal in Colorado. Watching the video, I felt terrified. Seeing Bernstein showcase his guns that were the same or like guns used in attacks as recent as Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, Texas or as old as the Columbine shooting, my anxiety rose.

Bernstein said the killer wants to feel the firepower.

For many gun owners, guns bring along a sense of power, whether it is the power to protect yourself and loved ones or the power to hurt others. The more powerful the gun, the more powerful the person.

I believe, as a compromise between those for and against gun control, the government should eliminate all firearms from civilian possession except for handguns and the occasional shotgun. There is no reason a civilian should be armed with military-grade weapons and tanks. Handguns are more suitable for citizens, and they would require more skill to commit a mass shooting.

Whether my idea is enacted or not, gun control needs to be considered for the safety of all Americans and possible future victims. When dealing with firearms, we must remember: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Comedy Writer Discusses America’s Complicated History with Race and Slavery

By Victoria Nickerson

AUSTIN, Texas – In a lecture on Nov. 30, Azie Dungey, creator of the satirical web series “Ask a Slave” and writer for the Emmy-nominated Netflix series “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” discussed how to navigate conversations about slavery and its lingering ramifications in our current socio-political climate.

Dungey’s critically acclaimed web series was inspired by her experience working as a character interpreter on historic tours of President George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Through her portrayal of Washington’s house slave Caroline Branham, Dungey was confronted with visitors’ reactions and felt compelled to satirize the experience.

During her lecture, Dungey explained how her personal experience became a lesson depicting the racial climate in America. She shared how visitors often voiced inaccurate preconceived notions about slavery and early American history.

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Writer and actor Azie Dungey explains the origin of her satire series “Ask a Slave” and how slavery still impacts our society today (photo: Viviane Mathieu).

“I found that I was sort of caught between the nostalgia that the visitor brought and the actual history that I was representing,” said Dungey. “And if memory is identity then my very presence was a threat to the visitors’ understanding of themselves as citizens, as people and as Americans.”

Dungey explained that her character portrayal became a physical embodiment of the history visitors didn’t want to accept, leading them to explain away slavery’s effects.

According to Dungey, when slavery is discussed, avoidance, denial and rationalization emerge as people grapple with the truth. In her experience, visitors often tried to modify facts by saying that the Washingtons were nice so slavery wasn’t all bad.

“No matter how good you have it, if you don’t own your own body then your life pretty much is not yours in any respect,” said Dungey. “That’s not only scary but it means that whatever potential you feel you have, you can never achieve it.”

Dungey explained that the best way to react to misconceptions and ignorance is with empathy. While we can’t help that slavery has led us to our current social situation of economic imbalance and racism, we can combat mistruths with evidence and compassion.

“Dungey’s perspective made me realize the impact that slavery still has on America today,” said Meredith Palmer, sophomore journalism major. “Although tensions remain high, she gave me hope that it’s possible to stop the cycle of resistance to the truth.”

Dungey is currently working on a book about her experiences visiting historic sites across the U.S. titled “How I Survived the 18th Century.” She is also writing for the upcoming Starz drama “Sweetbitter” based on the book by Stephanie Danler.

This lecture was sponsored by the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies, the Department of American studies and the Moody College Honors Program.

Video Game Writer Gives Students Advice on Preparing for the Gaming Industry

By Alana Henry

AUSTIN, Texas – Hall Hood, a lead writer at BioWare, the game studio that created the Mass Effect and Dragon Age franchises, gave Radio-Television-Film students advice on how to get into the gaming industry at an event hosted by the Department of RTF on Nov. 27.

“The good news is that [gaming companies] are hiring all the time, the bad news is that there is a tremendous amount of competition for them,” said Hood. “You need to be very good, you need to hone your craft and know your stuff.”

Hood majored in RTF at the University of Texas at Austin. He originally wanted to be a filmmaker, but realized he loved writing for films instead. Once Hood graduated in 1992, he refined his craft by writing story ideas for a producer.

In 2006, Hood found his calling when he entered the gaming industry after a friend told him BioWare was opening a studio in Austin and gave him the contact information of the lead writer.

Hall Hood (left) explains his role at BioWare and how students can prepare themselves for a career in the game industry (photo: Alana Henry).

“I had already been playing BioWare’s games for years and I loved their concept of a storytelling game,” said Hood. “Within five minutes of emailing back and forth I was taking a test, then a couple months later I got hired and held on ever since.”

Hood said the intensive curriculum at UT helped him land his job at BioWare. He added that students need more than just class experience and that they should play a variety of video games, even those outside of their interests to boost their knowledge on what types of games are out there.

according Hood, developing critical thinking abilities is key to succeeding in the gaming industry. He encouraged students to learn how their favorite games work.

“That’s what you’re going to do when you get into the gaming industry,” said Hood. “You’re going to say, ‘That game is awesome, how do they do that?’ then you have to take it apart and figure out how they made it. And your job is going to be to make it better.”

The RTF department hosts several speakers that help students gain insight into fields that they can explore after graduation.

“Today really opened my eyes to what is out there for an RTF major,” said Matthew Sherman, a junior studying RTF. “I never thought that I could use my writing skills in the gaming industry. This is definitely a path I would like to explore, and I will be taking Hood’s advice that he gave today to start.”


Buddy Walk Builds Support for People With Down Syndrome

Every year, thousands of people worldwide participate in Buddy Walk to support people with Down Syndrome and their families.

The event was started by the National Down Syndrome Society in 1995 to promote acceptance and inclusion of people with Down Syndrome.

Buddy Walk is just one of the many events that the Down Syndrome Association of Central Texas (DSACT) puts on to provide education, support and resources to individuals with Down Syndrome, their families and the community.

Watch the video below to see footage from this year’s Buddy Walk in Austin and to learn more about DSACT.

For more information on DSACT and how you can get involved visit their website.

Student Profile: Valerie Carter

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Posing with the Moody College sign outside of the Belo Center for New Media at UT (photo: April Fulp).

Name: Valerie Carter

Major: Public Relations with a certificate in Business Foundations

Fun Background Fact: She is among the 2 percent of UT undergrads over the age of 30

Career Plans/Interests: Wants to run her own music-focused podcast that features new songs and interviews with artists

If you could have a chicken coop, what would you name your chickens?
John, Paul, George and Ringo