4

You Know, Bob Mong, You're Right

Matt Pulle's not looking for a new gig, Mr. Mong, but he does want you to know what a fine job your paper's doing. You're welcome.
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I can’t believe I’m about to write this, but here goes: Jim Moroney and Bob Mong are right. The Dallas Morning News is doing a good job, and for Craig Flournoy and Tracy Everbach, who panned the paper for the Columbia Journalism Review, to neglect to mention several of the daily’s high points is silly and shallow.

Moroney and Mong’s memo (try saying that five times fast) lays out The Dallas Morning News’ coups fairly comprehensively, although I would have mentioned Kevin Krause’s recent reporting on Sheriff Lupe Valdez’s stumbles as well. But after the jump, I’d like to emphasize a few highlights:

Brooks Egerton essentially freed an African-American man from prison by reporting how Republican Judge Keith Dean sentenced him to life behind bars for smoking pot -- while giving a white defendant who pled guilty to shooting and killing an unarmed prostitute in the back 10 years probation.

Doug Swanson and Emily Ranshaw’s expose on the Texas Youth Commission stopped the systematic rape of kids and led to a complete overhaul of the state institution. Josh Benton, in addition to being a smart, incisive columnist, has been a one-man watchdog of Texas Education Association, reporting how the state agency continually turns a blind eye to high schools who cheat on the TAKS Test. I suspect he’s the reason why Shirley Neeley is updating her resume.

Meanwhile, Kent Fischer and Tawnell Hobbs (and former reporter Pete Slover) should earn a stipend from DISD, if not the United States Justice Department, for reporting on its corrupt employees. Exposing everything from high-ranking administrators with cozy ties with district vendors to the array of staffers who abuse the district’s credit card, the reporting they’ve done has led to guilty pleas and federal indictments.

Like our new mayor, I’m a relatively new arrival to Dallas. So I don’t have the historical perspective to tell you whether Flournoy and Everbach’s basic premise is right -- that the paper is not nearly as good as it once was because of a spate of lousy management decisions. Obviously The News has its problems, and any paper that would rather have Steve Blow than Pete Slover isn’t heading in the right direction.

But for Flournoy and Everbach to ignore or gloss over stories The Dallas Morning News has reported that have upended sleazy institutions, sent corrupt officials to prison, stopped kids from being raped and freed a guy from prison is the kind of inept and one-sided journalism that makes me wonder if CJR isn't the one that should be laying off reporters. --Matt Pulle

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