No News is Good News

No news is good news: Your regular Buzz correspondent is back--pale, rested, and ready from a vacation that absolutely did not involve involuntary commitment or heavy doses of psychotropic drugs, as far as you know. And didn't young Eric Celeste do a fine job while we were away? Don't you miss him? Don't you want to write a letter to the editor threatening violence if he isn't made permanent Buzzmeister immediately?

In the meantime, let's get things started with yet another gratuitous swipe at The Dallas Morning News, which cheerfully announced in a recent Sunday edition that it is adding three suburban sections to the newspaper to better serve its readers. Granted, those three sections will replace four suburban papers also owned by the News' parent company, Belo Corp. True, even the News' own story noted that the new suburban sections will at first (read: forever) have "fewer pages than the existing community newspapers," some of which "have lengthy histories in their communities." Nevertheless, the News' story assured us this is a good thing.

It's such a good thing, in fact, that the Richardson News, the Irving News, the Rockwall Success, and the Rowlett Record aren't the only nameplates on Belo's chopping block. The daily's story neglected to mention that the Lewisville News and the Grapevine Sun, which has been around 100 years or so, may go the way of the other four papers sometime early next year, according to a Belo source familiar with the plan. Staff members at the two papers will be asked to take tests to see if they're qualified to work for the News' community sections, the source says. The two weeklies employ about 35 people and are distributed by Denton Publishing Co., which Belo purchased two years ago. The News reportedly will open another bureau in the Flower Mound area to fill the gap left by the move.

This is, of course, just terrible, yet another example of greedy, monopolistic media companies stifling independent voi...Oh, yeah. The Met. Never mind.

Foreplay: To get a good idea of what people in Dallas-area 'burbs might be missing with the homogenization of their local newspapers, Buzz suggests you check out the Lakeside News, a weekly newspaper published in Gun Barrel City.

A recent edition dropped off at our office included the headline "Folks have seen dead newlyweds" over a wire story about ghost sightings. That's just the sort of thing you won't see in any Belo product. Their rules for balance would require a second line: "Living dead may not actually walk the earth, source says."

You also likely would not see the front-page headline "Lewd golf angers Kemp residents," featured in the October 27 edition of the Lakeside News. According to the story, several residents--all of them, coincidentally, women--called the paper to complain about females in G-strings and bikinis who were running around the Kings Creek Country Club course, frolicking nekkid in the sand traps, and generally doing anything they could to make golf a far less boring game than it is. "I also saw one of the women straddling her legs, letting the male golfer putt towards her," the story quoted one eyewitness, showing more disciplined resistance to double-entendres than you generally see in these pages.

The women were from The Lodge, a Dallas men's club. A club employee wouldn't comment on the charity tournament to Buzz, because the Dallas Observer has written mean things about the joint in the past (Who, us?), which makes us feel just terrible. So bad, in fact, that we would like to volunteer to be the Gun Barrel City correspondent for the Morning News, when its tentacles finally reach that far.

Sauce for the goose: By the time you read this, the presidential election will be over and either Al Gore (please, God) or George Dubya Bush (oh, God) will be headed for the White House.

So it's really too late for Buzz to say anything meaningful about news that Bush was charged with drunken driving more than two decades ago in Maine. And if you think that's going to stop us, Buzz would like to welcome you as a first-time reader.

It wasn't until Election Day that Linda Edwards, Bush's press secretary, returned our call about that little DUI thing. Buzz was kind of surprised she got back at all given how busy things were down in Austin, getting ready for the party, writing speeches, shooing Lt. Gov. Rick Perry and his tape measure away from the gov's office. We wanted to know whether the people who work for Bush also could fail to report any misdemeanor convictions they had racked up over the years. It was a question of fairness, of character, of doing any little thing we could to annoy the Bush campaign.

Edwards told us that in 1995 the governor's office started requiring checks with the Texas Department of Public Safety for just such infractions among his state employees. The policy "certainly wouldn't have involved Governor Bush," she noted, and the office was only checking Texas files.

Good plan. No one can accuse you of hypocrisy unless you get caught.

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Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams

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