Desperate Housecleaning

Buzz is channeling Blackie Sherrod this week, feeling like we should do a little scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to The Arlington Morning News...

Staying with The Dallas Morning News theme, Buzz is hearing that the round of layoffs scheduled for this week is only one of the huge changes coming at the paper of record. Other changes include:

1. The thoughtful new Sunday section, Points, which is supposed to be a quasi-Sunday magazine on newsprint, has been put on hiatus.

2. The dozen or so suburban sections in the paper will be condensed into five zoned metro fronts--meaning that if you live in Frisco, your Metro page will have a story or two that differs from the one people get in the grown-up paper.

3. In some of those suburban editions, there will be new "reader-written" sections that will have community news. Two words for that: compelling journalism. Wait, no, three words: focus-group-driven.

4. They have to try something in the 'burbs, because remember the big push into Collin County on which the paper bet the farm? The circulation gains there are "negligible," Belo management told staff last week. So they have that going for 'em, which is nice...

Fakin' it: The fake-drug report issued last week was a necessary, public admission of the problems that led to the scandal. But something about it struck Buzz as funny--not "ha ha" funny, but "get your effin' shinebox" funny.

What the report says most to Buzz is how handicapped the investigating panel was. As proof, Buzz gives you footnote 58: "The Panel sent letters to all officers still employed by DPD who were in the Narcotics Division at the time of the fake drug situation. The Panel requested that anyone with pertinent information contact the Panel. Of the over eighty (80) letters sent, one (1) individual responded to anonymously provide some insight."

This and other notes within the report (only 17 in-person interviews were conducted) explain the limitations of an organization that doesn't have subpoena power. So we're just saying that the next time the city wants a definitive report, send the $175,000 they gave the authors to Buzz. At least we can let sources go unnamed. You find out all sorts of juicy stuff this way. See the first half of this column for proof.

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