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Bark's Bite

We're not used to playing Good Cop here at Buzz Central. Not that we're normally into the Bad Cop role, either. Given our lifestyle/bedroom habits, we're not keen on playing any sort of law enforcement figure, lest we freak out and turn ourselves in for immoral Blue State behavior.

But Good Cop it is this week. In this issue's feature ("At the Ripping Point," page 23), we tell you all sorts of stuff that's wrong at The Dallas Morning News. Here we're going to tell you something that's right with the paper: TV critic Ed Bark.

Recently, Uncle Barky wrote a postmortem on Mark Cuban's reality show The Benefactor. On his blog, Cuban had taken Bark to task for not reporting on the show's scheduling challenges and its success in the Dallas market. None of which was the point, but Bark revisited this issue just long enough to conclude, you know what, any way you look at, Cuban's show was a tremendous ratings failure.

It was a great column. It's the sort of thing the paper should do more often.

And why doesn't it? Too big a question to go into here. Why doesn't Bark, though? Why is he still silent on many of the local television goings-on he used to spotlight? Because he hasn't been allowed to write substantively about local news (with a few exceptions) since February 2000. Ostensibly because Belo owns WFAA-Channel 8.

Still, Bark has been getting promises for nearly two years that he would soon be able to write again about local anchors and reporters--who are, in this media market, practically celebrities. So, fed up with promises, Bark spoke up again at a recent all-staff meeting, asking if he could please just get an answer. Publisher Jim Moroney told him that Editor Bob Mong and he want it to happen, but they're still working on it. Which, if you can read between the lines, means only VP for Shadowy Affairs Jack Sander and Belo Chairman Bobby Decherd stand in the way.

"The main reason I brought it up again in a public forum was the Scott Sams thing," Bark says, referring to the longtime Channel 8 anchorman whose contract was not renewed. "I keep getting e-mails every day wanting to know what happened to him.

"I think Jim and Bob want to restore local TV coverage, but I'm not hopeful it will happen," Bark says. "I've been told too many times it's just around the corner. "

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