Mission improbable


OK, class, here's another Buzz pop quiz: Give us three words that best describe The Dallas Morning News' editorial content without using a synonym for "boring."

Time's up.

The correct answer, according to the daily's recent in-house editorial newsletter News news -- kindly faxed to us from an anonymous reader -- is "local, risk-taking, and agile."

No, seriously. That, at least, is what the paper intends to become, according to an article by Executive Editor Gilbert Bailon that appeared in the newsletter. Bailon writes that the News' owner, Belo Corp., has been "examining its corporate strategy on every front" and has arrived at two key themes for the paper's newsroom: 1) Local content is vital (read: more suburban zoned editions), and 2) "We cannot build new business and grow existing ones without taking some calculated risks while working faster and with more agility" (read: earlier deadlines and a bigger Web page).

"In short, we cannot do business as usual," Bailon writes.

Which, we figure, is good news for anyone who has ever scalded his forehead while nodding off and dropping his noggin into a hot cup of coffee while reading the morning paper.

Of course, a large corporation like Belo can't be expected to change without first drafting that all-important hallmark of corporate philosophy, the mission statement, which, according to Bailon, the paper's news management group is busy crafting. Buzz would like to help, so we've been trying to come up with a mission statement that best embodies what we see as the News' editorial goals.

Let's see. "All the news that's fit to print" is taken; "Knowledge is good" was used by Faber College in Animal House; the Dallas Observer has dibs on "Free. One copy per person." (We know that technically those are mottoes. Don't be technical.)

Hmm. This is tough. We asked around the office. Some likely choices: "Making the Park Cities proud"; "It's news to us"; "That's Mr. Cuban to you"; "Sure, we're bland, but we have lots of coupons"; and "We'll cover south of the Trinity when you build us some nice bridges."

OK, so those don't exactly capture the new, agile, risk-taking News. If you have any better ideas, send 'em to patrick.williams@dallasobserver.com. Take heed of Bailon's advice to his staff: "Let's bury phrases such as 'We've always done it that way' or 'We've never done it that way.' New thinking requires some new expressions..."

Whistling Dixie

As a white native of the Land of Lincoln, Buzz has no strong feelings about whether South Carolinians should keep flying the Confederate flag over their statehouse. Buzz's opinion? Hey, we won, so you losers can go ahead and keep your flag.

Of course, that's just the sort of flip, trivial, insensitive comment that might piss off any number of people, Mayor Ron Kirk among them.

The mayor recently lambasted the Dallas Business Journal for an editorial it published in January dismissing the South Carolina debate as much ado about nothing. The mayor wrote the Journal a letter complaining that the editorial "trivializes this issue and does so in a manner that is insensitive and, frankly, offensive to many Americans."

Maybe so, but Buzz can't help but wonder how many of those offended Americans might also take exception to the mayor's signing a proclamation setting aside a day to honor Dallas' Confederate heritage.

Someone faxed Buzz a page from an old issue of the United Daughters of the Confederacy magazine that reported how the mayor signed a proclamation declaring October 12, 1997, Confederate Heritage Day. Along with it they sent a copy of the mayor's Journal letter. There are a lot of mean-spirited people out there, God love 'em.

Apparently the mayor has had a change of heart on how best to honor the South's Confederate past. We say apparently because the mayor doesn't talk much to the Dallas Observer these days.

Still, to show there are no hard feelings on Buzz's part, allow us to point out that state employees in Texas get three holidays in January: New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday, and Confederate Heroes Day, honoring Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis.

Now, back to South Carolina...

Compiled from staff reports by Patrick Williams


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