Stop the Presses

Stop the presses: "You might think the possibility of forged documents would have come up by now," The Dallas Morning News opined Saturday in an editorial about the Dallas police fake-drug scandal. The self-congratulatory editorial appeared the same day the daily ran a front-page story "revealing" that a lawyer for one of the confidential informants involved in the case contends that signatures on some police receipts for payments to his client are forgeries.

The editorial's author is correct. You might think that throughout the months of reporting about the scandal, in which informants planted fake cocaine--powdered chalk--on dozens of innocents, the possibility of hanky-panky with the paperwork would have occurred to someone. You might especially think that if you've been reading the Morning News. The paper reported the same information on July 11, 2002. Call it déjà news.

"To what extent law enforcement knew these drugs were fake, I don't know. But they forged my client's signature on $24,000," William Nellis, an attorney for one of the informants, told the News 15 months ago. There Nellis was again in the paper on Saturday, saying essentially the same thing. The story Saturday buried the more intriguing information--by that we mean "news"--that several police officers who assisted in the bogus arrests were declining to testify in civil cases arising from the scandal, invoking their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Now, only a fool would suggest that invoking the Fifth is tantamount to an admission of wrongdoing. But Buzz, being a fool, will say this: It stinks to high heaven when cops plead the Fifth in any venue.

We could be wrong. It's a complicated case that's hard to follow, and we feel for the DMN's editorialists. We don't always want to read their paper, either. Here's a hint: Ask for the double-shot latte at Starbucks.

Start the presses: Or you could instead read a copy of A.M. Journal Express, a free tabloid-style weekday newspaper that debuts November 12. The paper will emulate the "commuter" papers that recently were launched in Boston and Philadelphia. But will a commuter paper work in Dallas, where subways are sandwiches and "transit" means taking the DART rail to the zoo?

"More than 50 percent of those papers' distribution is in places other than transit systems or subways," says Jeremy Halbreich, chairman/prez/CEO of American Consolidated Media, the Dallas-based media company that is launching AMJE. (And--ain't this delicious--he was DMN president before resigning in 1998.) He says high-traffic areas such as business parks, company headquarters and college campuses will be typical places you can find the 140,000- to 150,000-circ publication. "We won't be the daily newspaper; we won't be the Dallas Observer. This is a different business model."

Well, of course you won't be like the Observer. We have Buzz! (Although, uh, whudya pay over there for a snarky typist who blows deadline and surfs the Net all day, hmmm?)

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

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