A new low has been reached in the continuing saga of desperate and incomprehensible management moves at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. If you'll remember, the S-T has taken to humiliating itself over the last couple of years--like by removing top managers in the dark of night, only to let their names linger like wraiths on the masthead for weeks. (They say on particularly cold nights in the downtown newsroom, you can still hear the ghostly shrieks of Debbie Price.) Ex-publisher Rich Connor, who's been dead meat for months, was only replaced on the masthead last weekend. Then there's that whole Disney thing, the latest rumor being that the S-T may be sold to a Taiwanese investor group, along with marketing rights to the dwarf Grumpy and Wizzer, the Dalmatian pup.
But as per usual in the history of human misery, it's the innocent and helpless who suffer the most--in this case, the reporters. In its never-ending quest to pander--er, practice--"community journalism," S-T management has issued its staff metal pin-on name tags, much like those worn by car rental clerks and McDonald's cashiers.
Big deal, Buzz, you say, that's a common security measure.
Not quite. In this case, S-T reporters from Arlington to Austin are expected to wear the name tags outside the office--at interviews, press conferences, and the like, thus pioneering an International House of Pancakes approach to journalism. "Was everything all right with that story, sir? How 'bout a warm-up on that coffee? Have a nice day, and ya'll come back!"
It goes without saying that this is going to put a stitch into undercover reporting in Fort Worth.
Buzz has heard that the name tag thing is working so well, S-T management is thinking about adopting other service-industry ideas. Management is vacillating between gold prep-school blazers for every reporter--complete with the Bass family coat of arms over the heart--and, as part of a possible joint-operating agreement with Long John Silver's, a whimsical buccaneer costume topped off with a crimson head scarf and eye patch.
How about...a bumper sticker that reads "HOW'S MY REPORTING: 1-800-IMA-DOPE."
Politeness works! If you remember, Buzz, after being subjected to KXAS's moronic programming during the last sweeps period, asked Channel 5 to please bring Marty Griffin back. Marty's future at 5 was iffy following the now-infamous Shahravan-Cowboys fiasco. OK, it could have been the Erik Williams lawsuit against Marty that forced KXAS and their hidden-camera ace into a reconciliation.
Meanwhile, The Dallas Morning News has moved the regular Sunday columns of Norma Adams-Wade and Mercedes Olivera to Tuesday and Thursday respectively--which means about 200,000 fewer readers will see them. Despite some organized protest from readers, their columns have been replaced by alleged humor columnist Larry Powell. Now, instead of reading what is going on in the coming week in the black and Hispanic communities, we can read what white people were doing 25 years ago, as Powell takes his endless trips through the DMN morgue.