How to Ruin a Newspaper

McKinsey clones: Before I start with personal knowledge of McKinsey & Co. ("At the Ripping Point," by Eric Celeste, November 18), let me ask one simple question: Why would purportedly world-class editors and publishers bring in outside consultants to tell them how to run a successful newspaper? Hint. They know, but the answer conflicts with the larger goals of Belo. If they don't know, why don't we just run them off and get somebody that does?

McKinsey is indeed almost totally populated with bright, intelligent Harvard MBAs. These people are sharp. They're all young, clever and have high IQs. They swoop into a company doing the "right interviews" and asking all the "right questions." They then disappear for a while. What they're doing is merging the company culture into Harvard newthink. They present recommendations to top management. Workers will never hear the proposed solutions, only the propaganda for change. Their ideas sound good, conversant with new trends and technologies. There's only one problem: All these smart, brilliant, high-IQ Harvard graduates have never published a newspaper, built a missile or made a potato chip. They've just gone to school.

Here's a simple truth: There's more journalism in one issue of the Dallas Observer than in a year of The Dallas Morning News. And therein lies the answer. If you really want the DMN to prosper, call in the survivors and tell them: "Nothing is off-limits. Write the important stories, tell the truth. People will buy the paper to see what is going on behind the scenes in Dallas. People from all over the world will buy the paper to see how a great paper addresses the issues."

This will never happen, of course. The paper is too busy covering up the other investments of Belo, the $$$ to be made from the Trinity River project, the behind-the-scenes deals that bring in big $$$ for the in crowd, the millions for billionaires. So the editor and publisher will continue to not print the important stories of Dallas and hang their hopes on the recommendations of McKinsey & Co., who've never published a newspaper. They will fail. But McKinsey will have collected their fee.

Ted Gage

Paranoid: The other day I stopped by the downtown Conspiracy Museum and asked the old guy behind the counter about the "For Lease" sign on the building. "That's just The Man messin' with us!" he snorted. Of course! An evil overlord on every corner!

Your "At the Ripping Point" story reveals a similarly paranoid bent. It's a thing of beauty, really; a grand conspiracy held together by loads of innuendo, assumption and inference. Laughably, very little fact surfaces. For instance, the fifth floor here is used for electrical, not meetings.

Like a pilot fish feeding on what falls off the whale, the Observer thrives on scraps from anonymous voices from The Dallas Morning News. But your paranoia degrades quickly into common-sense business savvy: It's no wonder you criticize obvious successes like Quick, given the loud sucking sound coming from your own ad pages.

Thanks for another routine burst of free publicity for The Dallas Morning News, which will be here long after the Observer has boldly published its last gritty, urban, realistic f-word.

Clifford Fewel

Mean, Mean Lady

We like Making Porn: I guess there were no "gay" critics in Dallas last week. So you sent a woman named Elaine Liner. She wrote a biased, nasty, sarcastic, very mean-spirited review ("Porn Yesterday," November 18). I do not have a "comb-over" and am not middle-aged, nor are the six men I went with. If she wanted comb-overs, she should have attended Morgan Fairchild's opus The Graduate. Lines like "cartoon muscled," "strangely tanned" and "shaved bodies," as well as her crack about the "wooden acting" and actors acting with their "wood," referring to the actor's penis--uncalled for. Also, Oscar Wilde would not have attended every performance. He would have given an after-theater supper for the actors. It's called style, Ms. Liner, something that you are sadly in need of.

The audience went for fun and a good laugh--we left the troubles of the world at the box office. We all knew we weren't seeing Ibsen or Shaw.

Justin Ormond

Nobody's Darling

Christy's early days: Concerning Sarah Hepola's article "Refuse to Lose" about Christy Darlington (November 18), I would first like to say that it's great that a feature is being written about a local who doesn't have a major-label deal. As an expatriate of the local scene (original manager of Galaxy Club), and having known Chris/Christy since the early '90s, my biggest criticism of the Dallas Observer music critics in the past was that they didn't dig into the local culture more than just looking up numbers in the Plano phonebook.

I would like to offer one critique, which is that Sarah missed a great opportunity to discuss how the scene was when the Voyeurs (Chris' first band) started at Galaxy, and how it's evolved or devolved over the years. There's a treasure trove of great stories concerning local musicians past and present.

Scott Prater

His 15 minutes: I was blown away to finally see Darlington getting some well-deserved attention. Hopefully it will spark people's interest! Viva el Observer!

Via e-mail

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