Dog Bites Belo

How many lawyers does it take to make a media company a punch line?

Second, they force me to write about it anyway by admitting that this isn't a company policy; they just hate Avi Adelman and they want to target his Web site. I see no other way to read the company's "defense" of its actions. Good sweet heavens, how silly, small and vindictive is Belo?

(A personal note: Mr. Adelman, all of the above is just shtick. I believe in everything you do.)

Here's the simple reason the Fort Worth Star-Telegram dropped its partnership with KTVT-Channel 11 and this week struck up one with KXAS-Channel 5: market share.

"We approached Channel 5 about four years ago to do this, but they weren't very interested then," says Star-Telegram editor Jim Witt. "So we went with Channel 11 a few years ago. And the folks at Channel 11 are great; Tracy Rowlett has really turned that station around in terms of quality. But their ratings just aren't anywhere near what Channel 5's ratings are. Plus, after September 11, Channel 11, like a lot of people, started doing even more international news and not as much local. So, four or five months ago, Channel 5 approached us about doing stories together, running their weather folks on our weather page, all sorts of stuff. And with their ratings, we just thought this would give us a larger group exposed to our stories."

Witt knows that making such partnerships work is very difficult--unless it's the one between WFAA-Channel 8 and The Dallas Morning News, both of which are owned by Belo, and therefore managers at each company can be forced to play nice. Channel 5 will get a copy of the Star-T's story lineup every day after the paper's 2 p.m. "news budget" meeting and will then decide if there are stories it can add pictures to and run on its newscasts that evening. The stories would be tagged as coming from the Star-T. Witt hopes the paper can also join with Channel 5's reporters to work on some long-term projects.

"Heck, we know that every radio and television station in town uses the Star-Telegram and the Morning News every day as their tip service, anyway," Witt says, chuckling. "At least this way, we can get credit for it."

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