Thank you, Gary!
By Mark Morrison, Chair, Headliners Foundation of Texas
September 1, 2013
For 30 years the Headliners Foundation has stuck to its mission of promoting excellence in Texas journalism. But since 1997, when he joined the board of governors, Gary Pickle has made sure that the Foundation never pursued business as usual. He has been a key driver of revamping and expanding core programs—sponsoring awards to professionals who produce the state’s best journalism and scholarships for promising college students who demonstrate a commitment to journalism.
Major changes didn’t stop with these. When he succeeded Allan Shivers Jr. as chair in January 2011, Pickle set out to make the Foundation’s role more relevant to a media industry that was undergoing massive technological and financial challenges. His answer: develop a website that went beyond routine listings and announcements. Instead, create a robust educational tool for professional journalists and future ones. That site, headlinersfoundation.org, has become a treasure trove of timely and useful content ranging from interviews with award-winning journalists about how they break big stories to video of training seminars and media panels on current events.
Under his chairmanship, the Foundation launched its Michele Kay Speaker Series that offers Headliners Club members and the Central Texas news and academic communities an opportunity to hear from leading Texas and national media figures. He is also proud of the establishment of a new George Christian scholarship that was launched by former CNN president and Los Angeles Times publisher Tom Johnson and has raised more than $100,000. Christian and Johnson worked together in the LBJ administration.
“I try not to be averse to change,” said Pickle, who some colleagues describe as understated but persistent and insistent in pushing the Foundation to innovate. “Technology gave us big opportunities and I think we’re only beginning to take ful advantage of that.”
Pickle recently stepped down as chair as he reached the limit of consecutive terms serving the Foundation. He will continue to serve as chair emeritus and a member of the executive committee and the Professional Excellence Committee. He will also continue to produce programming for the website including interviews with star reporters, photographers and editors.
Pickle, 70, was born into a newspaper family in West Texas. While earning an English degree at UT Austin, Pickle started working at KTBC-TV as a 16mm news cameraman who covered such major events as the UT sniper tragedy and the Texas White House of President Johnson. He
and several associates started one of Austin’s first motion picture production companies
and for three decades created various media products.
While he hands over leadership at the strongest moment in the Foundation’s history, chair emeritus Pickle will be there
to make sure that his successors never get comfortable with the status quo.