More Than Just Words on a Page

Your trusty Alcalde is exploring new frontiers for telling great UT stories.

More than just words on a page

For much of my adult life I have endured endless doomsday prognostication about the imminent death of great storytelling. Print, these dark prophets say, is dying, and with it the in-depth reporting and writing that has made magazines—this one included—so valuable and compelling.

Here at the Texas Exes, our experience is showing that, in fact, we are entering a golden age of storytelling, one that involves print but also supplements it in powerful new ways. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Longhorn Network? I know, I know. You can’t all get it. Well, do me a favor and ask your friend who does have it to record the next episode of the Alcalde. That’s right, the Alcalde has a TV show.

Working with the pros over at ESPN, we are now doing a 30-minute show around each new print issue of the magazine. What’s been fascinating to discover as we have completed the first few episodes is that the stories we tell in the print magazine invariably take on a whole new life when converted for TV. In the last print issue, we featured UT’s national champion quidditch team. Longhorn Network sent over a camera crew and put together a segment on it. As any sports fan knows, reading about a sport and watching it played are very different experiences. Both have their strengths, and now you can get both under the Alcalde name.

The cover of the last issue featured a field guide to the Forty Acres. In the magazine, we commissioned beautiful illustrations to accompany the written articles. But for the Web we took it to a new level. We gathered video footage of the various fauna and flora, enlivened the illustrations and the stories, and featured a custom map of all the live oaks on campus, all in an interactive HTML5 presentation. The resulting multimedia feature offers readers a richer field guide than what the printed magazine alone could provide.

Finally, when acclaimed author and UT alumnus Philipp Meyer came through Austin to promote his new bestseller, The Son, we roped in his former professor and Alcalde contributor Don Graham to have a discussion with Meyer here in the Alumni Center. In the resulting Alcalde podcast, you can hear Meyer talk about the genesis of his book in Graham’s “Life & Literature of the Southwest” class. Meyer also tells the story of how he tasted buffalo blood when researching the book, and as a bonus, he reads the novel’s first page. Nothing like hearing the novel from the voice of the author himself.

Rest assured, the print magazine isn’t going anywhere, and neither is the great storytelling you have come to love and expect from the Texas Exes. But now with our TV show, website, and podcasts, we are enriching those stories and telling them like never before.

Happy reading, watching, browsing, and listening,

Tim Taliaferro


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