The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Female leaders in the newsroom

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Photo by PROVIDED

Nadja Pollard was the second female sports editor in The Battalion’s history.  

From a lack of women to women serving as editors-in-chief, The Battalion has notably evolved within the past 125 years.
On April 27, 1963, the previously all-male Texas A&M, opened its doors to women. In the spring of 1976, Roxie Hearn served as interim editor for the last month of the semester after James Breedlove stepped down, making her the first woman to hold the position.
In the summer of 1978, Debby Krenek became the first woman to serve a full term. Krenek is now the publisher of Newsday, a Pulitzer-prize winning news organization on Long Island. Krenek said all of her spare time at A&M was spent at The Battalion.
“I was so honored to be chosen as editor of The Battalion because it had been so much a part of my life at A&M, and I still have lifelong friends from that time,” Krenek said. “It was really a shock though when [advisor] Bob Rogers called me and asked me to be the editor… I feel like that phone call changed the trajectory of my life [and] career, and I will always be grateful to Bob for that.”
Diversity in editorial positions is paramount and still needs improving, Krenek said. The praise that came with being the first female editor did not distract her.
“I never really thought of myself as the first female editor,” Krenek said. “I was just one of a group of what I considered talented and passionate journalists in training, and the staff I was leading was a staff I had worked side by side with in the years prior.”
To get to the bottom of each story is a basic principle for the job of an editor, and The Battalion is known for that, Krenek said.
“The core of it all is still the story and getting your sources to tell you the story behind the story,” Krenek said. “I felt like all the editors of The Battalion at one time or another made tough decisions about publishing stories that weren’t so popular with the administration.”
Melissa Nelson, Class of 1985 and The Battalion’s first female sports editor, works as an English teacher in The Woodlands.
“I started working with The Battalion my sophomore year and started as a reporter and did some photography,” Nelson said. “I was chosen to be sports editor less for my sports knowledge and more I think for my writing and management ability.”
Nelson said diversity in a newsroom and across campus is essential for growth.
“We had a lot of women on our staff, but obviously women being involved is always important,” Nelson said. “The university that we know now would not exist if it remained all men. Admitting women was a great choice that they made all of those years ago.”
According to Nelson, the title of first female sports editor is far less important than what she accomplished while in the role.
“Honestly, I didn’t know I was the first female sports editor when I took the position,” Nelson said. “When I found out, my reaction was ‘Okay, I’ve got things to do.’ I wasn’t overly impressed by that fact, and I didn’t feel like it was that significant. I just wanted to do my job and do a good job at it.”
Nadja Pollard, Class of 1989 and the second female sports editor and now an information development manager at Idera, a software company in Austin.
“I started at The Batt working paste-up, which was the physical process of laying out the paper,” Pollard said. “We’d print out the articles, run them through a machine that put hot wax on the back, and then cut them to fit onto the layout.”
Pollard said she never felt that anything was different in the newsroom because she was a female editor.
“I picked a good staff and trusted the team while providing them the tools and guidance necessary to do their best,” Pollard said. “It is necessary to encourage women to venture into fields traditionally held by men. I don’t know if I added anything as a woman, but I hope I added something by my viewpoints and dedication. I wasn’t going to let someone tell me ‘no’ because I’m a woman.”
Sam King, Class of 2017 and Battalion editor-in-chief for 2016-2017 school year, is now a product management analyst at financial software firm Trintech in Addison.
According to King, one of her favorite quotes is from Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who says, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.”
King said representation is pivotal and necessary in all organizations that serve as the voice of a community.
“The Battalion is a little bit of a microcosm to A&M, I think,” King said. “The newsroom always felt like a place where your background and your baggage didn’t matter. You weren’t a woman, you weren’t a gay person, you weren’t a black person — you were a reporter. I hope the legacy I left as a woman at The Battalion is just to make the women who came before me and did have to fight those uphill battles proud.”

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  • Former managing editor Katy Stapp and editor-in-chief Sam King display their awards for the 2016- 2017 year. 

    Photo by FILE

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