By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
You think I'm mean. That hurts. I know I've written some not-so-nice things this year about reporters and Belo executives and Cuecats and such. But it's the holiday season, and I'm infected...sorry, I mean filled...with the spirit of joy. I will no longer mock the 42 f-'in MILLION BUCKS those BELO IDIOTS put into Cue...
Sorry sorry sorry sorry. It is so hard.
I'll try to be a good boy, though. I really will. No ironic detachment intended. I truly believe that, in the end, after all the "alternative" attitude is stripped away, we're ultimately judged by our ability to show compassion, to extend forgiveness, to embrace the holiday spirit, Jesus loves me this I know, et cetera.
OK, let's try it again. It's the holiday season, and in the spirit of love and forgiveness, it's time to pay tribute to those people and products in the media world that deserve praise, those things for which Filler was thankful in double-aught. In January, I can go back to being petty and mean, which is far more entertaining.
A quick note: Since I've been in Dallas for a while now, and because I'm such a kiss-ass, I've made many friends in the media field. In the interest of full disclosure, I will mention my affiliation (in parentheses) with each person I name below. So there.
Beatriz Terrazas, feature writer,The Dallas Morning News (Never met her, never talked to her): Not to put too fine a point on this, but Terrazas, a former photographer turned feature-section staff writer, is one of the best writers I've ever read at any newspaper. She is so good partly because her background in photography helps her understand the power of painting clear, crisp images with words. She is more storyteller than newspaper reporter, able to take even mundane, trite trend stories--e.g., the latest music craze, this time "Spanish rock" and its followers, rockeros--and make them sing. However, to really get a sense of her literary style, you must read her story from Sunday, June 11, titled "The Voice of Memory."
Certainly, its power comes partly from its honesty--"Memory" is a first-person tale about Terrazas' search for buried, incredibly traumatic childhood memories that fuel her waves of depression. But it also works as literature, ignoring conventional newspaper structure and slowly enveloping the reader in her sad, desperate, frustrating search for familial truth.
In this scene, Terrazas is driving home the morning after a panic attack she had when a man she was interested in began to flirt with her:
I pass fields of spotted cows munching grass and fields of yellow wildflowers. Even now last night's fear is fresh. How did I finish my work? What is wrong with me?...It's not fair that I have to spend the rest of my life anticipating these moments of terror. The anger is unbearable.
The thought of dying doesn't really occur to me then. Rather, it crystallizes, as if it has been the only option all along...My hands on the wheel, I picture ramming my truck into an abutment rising under an overpass. I imagine the cows in nearby pastures lifting their heavy heads at the roar of crunching metal. I think about my beloved cameras landing on the hot roadway, the glass splintering. And when some man in a business suit stops and asks, "What happened here?"--there is no answer.
Ken Parish Perkins, TV critic,Fort Worth Star-Telegram(Used to be his editor and his co-worker): Dallas-Fort Worth is blessed with few good critics (save the ones at this paper, of course), but somehow it is called home by two of the country's best television critics. Ed Bark at the Morning News is a mainstay on anyone's media best-of list, a fine critic and reporter. But I'm partial to Perkins for several reasons. He goes against conventional wisdom, for example. (Before the bandwagoners started rolling in, he was saying that Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Everybody Loves Raymond should be big hits. He was also an unapologetic fan of La Femme Nikita and thought Seinfeld was overrated. Genius.) In addition, he's completely uninterested in writing columns that are a series of one-liners, which is what most critics (like me!) do. He is honest, has heart, and isn't afraid to tackle broad social issues.
Betty Brink, feature writer,Fort Worth Weekly(Never met her, never talked to her): One of the main reasons the chain that owns the Dallas Observer purchased FW Weekly is that Brink's work gave the paper value. She has broken major stories concerning longtime Fort Worth sacred cows (her latest was an exposé into funny-money payments by the board of the Kimbell Art Museum), and every time her name is on the cover, you're compelled to pick up the paper.
The unknown sports copy editor person who wrote this headline, which is not on its own suggestive of vulgarity: "Crimson Cream"--the headline was concerning the Oklahoma Sooners' whipping of the University of Texas, 63-14. The Sooners are often referred to by their team colors, crimson and cream.
The same sports copy editor person who probably was chuckling in a juvenile fashion when he or she wrote this cutline under that same headline, which gives it an entirely new meaning in my book: "Oklahoma running back Quentin Griffin (22) squirts into the end zone..." If you think someone wasn't thinking dirty, you've never worked in a sports department.
Brett Shipp, reporter, Channel 8 (Talked to him a few times): Continues to offer the most enterprising reports on local television. One of the few reporters who doesn't take his cue from the newspapers; they take theirs from him.
Michael Saul, City Hall reporter,The Dallas Morning News (Never met him, never talked to him) The one News reporter you're most likely to hear cursed by a Dallas Observer writer or editor, as in, "Damned Michael Saul had that story today that I was working on."
Allison V. Smith, photojournalist,The Dallas Morning News (Went to college with her, worked on the school newspaper with her, worked with her at the Star-Telegram, saw her this week at the Stoneleigh P and had a nice conversation with her) I really don't know anything about photography, but she do take purdy pictures.
Norm Hitzges, sports talk-show host, The Ticket (Talked to him a few times): Hitzges celebrated 25 years on Dallas radio this year, but, if anything, he keeps getting better. He recently broke news when he revealed that there is a sort of one-week window to save some cash by cutting Troy Aikman--a fact the Morning News reported the next day as if Hitzges hadn't broken the story. And his stat-by-stat comparison of point guards, which showed that the best statistical PG in the country is Steve Friggin' Nash, is the sort of insight that makes his comedic tin ear bearable.