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Donnis Baggett

Texas Press Association

Hall of Fame Class of 2019

In his role as executive vice president of the Texas Press Association, Donnis Baggett leads the organization's governmental affairs program and serves as a state and national newspaper industry liaison.

His work, which draws on his experience in more than four decades in the newspaper industry, focuses on protecting open meetings, open records and public notice at all levels of government.

Baggett, born in Livingston in 1952, graduated in 1973 from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches with a bachelor's degree in communications/journalism and a minor in political science. While at SFA, he served as editor of the Pine Log, the university's student newspaper. He also served on a committee that rewrote the student government constitution "“ his first involvement in politics.

He went on to work at newspapers in Livingston and Longview before The Dallas Morning News hired him in 1976. He worked as a reporter, assistant city editor and assistant state editor before being named state editor in 1982. He later was promoted to assistant managing editor and was assigned responsibility for The News' Sunday edition. While he served in that position The News reached its all-time high in Sunday circulation.

From 1992 to 1994, he served two terms as president of the Press Club of Dallas.

After A.H. Belo Corp., owner of The Dallas Morning News, purchased The Bryan-College Station Eagle in late 1995, Baggett was named publisher and editor of The Eagle. In 2010 he was hired as publisher of the Waco Tribune-Herald, and in 2012 he joined the staff of the Texas Press Association.

While in Bryan-College Station, Baggett served on boards of numerous community organizations and carved out time to serve as chair of the combined Legislative Advisory Committee of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association and Texas Press Association. He served TDNA as a board member, then as president.

Baggett also served on the board of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. He received the organization's coveted James Madison Award in 2014 for his ongoing efforts to promote and preserve the open government laws of Texas. He also was awarded the prestigious Frank W. Mayborn Award for Community Leadership and the Longhorn Award for Industry Leadership, both given by the Texas Daily Newspaper Association.

Outside his newspaper career, Baggett and his wife, Beverly Brown, own a bison ranch near Bryan-College Station. He is currently vice president of the National Bison Association and is a past president of the Texas Bison Association.

He also serves as vice chair of the board of trustees of First United Methodist Church of Bryan, as a board member of the Aggieland Humane Society and as an advisory board member of the Washington on the Brazos State Park Association.