In April 2014, Editor & Publisher recognized Tommy Felts as one of its “25 Under 35,” a list of young journalists reinventing the newspaper industry. Felts, the 2003-2004 editor of the university’s newspaper, The East Texan, is now the managing editor of The Ottawa Herald in Ottawa, Kansas.
“My time at Texas A&M University-Commerce set the foundation for my work as a versatile journalist and editor and eventually helped lead me to being named to Editor& Publisher magazine’s list,” Felts said. “As editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, I was allowed freedom to grow, experiment and learn the ins and outs of a newspaper in the microcosm of a college environment. That meant writing news and sports stories, opinion columns, editorials and entertainment reviews, as well as editing other students’ articles, drawing editorial cartoons, shooting photos, designing pages, helping pull newspapers from the university’s press and even delivering copies around campus. The lessons of campus politics, group dynamics, crisis management, dealing with authority figures and related controversies, and handling unexpected and traumatic deaths in the community all served me well as a working editor today.
“I also was fortunate to have the wisdom of numerous guides along the way. Fred Stewart shepherded me through my early leadership roles, tapping me to take the reins of The East Texan, as well as aiding me in my service as vice president of the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association, headquartered out of the Commerce campus. In addition, numerous ethical dilemmas faced during my post-college years have been solved, in part, thanks to what I learned in Dr. Lamar Bridges’ rather grueling journalism ethics and history courses, and Hannah Barton gave me priceless instruction on layout and computer graphics that helped fuel my passion for design.”