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Jim Schutze Finds His Next Conspiracy Theory

A few days ago, Jim Schutze embarrassed himself by cooking up a conspiracy theory to explain a Dallas Morning News editorial that came out in support of the Nasher Sculpture Center in its efforts to mitigate the glare and heat reflecting off Museum Tower. He got more than one important detail very wrong, most notably that Lucy Billingsley and the Crow family have an interest in Museum Tower. Today, Schutze offers his latest theory. Over on Unfair Park, he implies that I’ve taken the side of the Nasher because my wife’s PR firm did work for the museum more than a year ago. He says I should have disclosed that fact when I wrote the first story about reflectivity problem in May:

What Rogers has neglected to share directly with his readers — something he still denied to me this morning even after his wife admitted it — is that his wife, Christine Rogers, is part-owner of a public relations firm called SparkFarm that has represented the Nasher in the past and still lists the Nasher as a “current client” on its web page.

As I said in the comments to his post, Schutze’s email to me asked, “When did you plan on telling readers that the p.r. firm of which your wife is part-owner represents the Nasher?”

I wrote back to Schutze: “As you’ve by now no doubt discovered, Jim, SparkFarm doesn’t represent the Nasher. Neither am I related to Lucy Billingsley or the Crow family. But Jim Moroney is Catholic and I am Catholic, and if you ever happen to see the two of us meet at, say, a cocktail party, if you look closely, you’ll notice that we engage in an odd handshake.”

As Schutze knows, there’s a material difference between having done work for somebody and representing somebody. As I have learned from reading Schutze’s post, SparkFarm worked for the Nasher between March and May of 2011. The problem with Museum Tower did not manifest itself until September 2011. I didn’t learn about it until January 2012, when I happened to be in the garden and noticed the glare.

Should I have disclosed in the story I wrote in April 2012 that my wife’s firm did work for the Nasher a year prior? Schutze thinks I should have. As a matter of practice, though, when I begin a writing project, I don’t do a conflict-of-interest check with my wife, asking her if, in the past year, she has worked for anyone involved with the story I’m reporting.

20 comments on “Jim Schutze Finds His Next Conspiracy Theory

  1. Not taking sides, but conflict of interest usually involves husband and wife in business dealings.

  2. Let me preface this by saying that I rarely leave comments that aren’t filled with cynicism and insults, so the fact that I’m leaving a legitimate comment hopefully speaks volumes as to the sincerity of this.

    Jim Schutze is a fucking troll. His sub-4chan level attempts to instigate you, D Magazine, and the Nasher come off as a poor attempt to garner The Observer’s website a few desperately needed hits in this fight. His arguments are weak, his methods, childish. Don’t even let him think the points he makes are anything other that irrelevant. Ignore the asshole and maybe he’ll go away.

  3. I’ve visited the Nasher and seen the Museum Tower. Talk about a conflict. Life is hard.

  4. I love you both, and hope, someday you and Jim can find the kind of parity that exists in my own life-long union. Other than that, Jim, I hope you will give up the bath salts.

  5. Frank,
    Too harsh by some distance.
    Jim’s written some very good and important stuff. He’s also written a lot of garbage, and the Nasher-Museum Tower blogs are as trashy as he gets. He’s in full aw-shucks mode, playing to the worst in his readers: envy of “the rich,” as they imagine the rich. Poking fun at “high culture,” as they imagine high culture. (No columnist ever went broke pretending outrage or indifference to art.) These are all shopworn Schutze ploys that, like a gory accident, never fail to attract a crowd. Jim loves to gather a crowd and then yank our chain.
    Full disclosure: I’m part of the crowd, because there are occasions when Jim’s worth reading and you never know when those occasions are going to arrive. And even when he’s wrong, sometimes he’s very entertaining.
    The Observer website does not “desperately need” hits. Jim can write about broccoli and he’ll have 50 hits by noon, a hundred by evening. That’s the whole point, perhaps the only point, of web-based journalism. Hey, look at me! Read me! You’ll have noticed this website itself is not immune.
    You must have been reading Shutze. otherwise I can’t imagine you’d bother criticising him. So, you can call him a *** troll if you like, but that makes you part of the Schutz problem. Me too.
    When he’s in troll mode, Jim doesn’t care if he’s right. Jim just wants to be read.

  6. I’m going to have to side with im with a T on this one. It is, however, refreshing, to see two DFW website titans in an on-the-record verbal bout. TV station people don’t have that luxury anymore. For the most part, they’re all muzzled by management. As is management by corporate. Etc.

  7. I realize this is a grey area, but my opinion is probably should have disclosed it. Two reasons:

    1) If it was a judgement call, I’d always leans towards the option of more disclosure.

    2) Although there is no current “representation”, there had been a previous business relationship which implies there could be promise of future business dealings. Especially in the wife’s line of work where it is likely contract-to-contract. Just because there is not an active relationship, does not mean there is not any relationship. The fact that remuneration was previously involved makes it even more important to disclose any potential links.

    I’m not a journalist, and there is no judgement here. Just my 2c.

  8. I really like it when JS writes about the dumb as things that so called A listers try to pull off on us geezers and folks who ride Dart or get caught up in the traffic with little or no air conditioning which is most of the folks that don’t live in the Park Cities or on Straight Lane. I think that Tim is just jealous of Jim. Because Jim been around so has the freedom to tell is like it is and Tim has his boss crawling all over his ass because he thinks he is a A lister when he is really just an A-list lackey sucking up to them for ads and subscriptions just like the Morning News does on its editorial pages. Tim, maybe its time for you to send your resume over to the O. Unfair Park really needs a guy.

  9. Well, if Jim S ever pens an item defending the sex ads i the O, we’ll expect disclosure

  10. If you knew she had done work for the Nasher in the past, you should have mentioned. If you didn’t know, you didn’t know. I don’t think anyone expects you to get a running tally of every client your wife’s firm handles anything for to cover your possible conflict of interest.

  11. Well, he likes my Swiftian proposal a lot and even forgives me for threatening him with a Luger. He may be coming around. Maybe.

  12. tagging along with what EdB wrote this is what makes online journalism so much fun to read. two good writers slinging bytes at each other.

    but I suspect that Tim and Jim meet each other secretly and decide who is going to poke the other fellow next

  13. Peterk, I am guessing your name is really Peter K, but in my head, I like to pronounce as “Puh-turk” or “Pee-turk” with stress on the first syllable.

    That’s all.

  14. I’ve heard that SparkFarm has some kick-ass lawyers. Tim should have mentioned that, too.

  15. Avid Reader is correct. If Tim knew, he should have disclosed — I’m willing to believe he did not, and in any event, it’s small potatoes. Truly.

    I’m afraid Bill is right, too. I almost made the same post but felt a sudden pang of politeness (I’m usually nice where other guys’ wives are concerned). I think Spark Farm is a fine name, but the formation “SparkFarm” just screams 1998.

  16. Jim got a lot more comments on his story than Tim did. This round goes to Schutze.

  17. @JimS: You are a member of the Texas Institute of Letters. It is beneath you to be sitting at your computer at 11 o’clock at night, counting the number of comments on a blog post about another blog post.

  18. Tim,
    It is beneath you to defend your total blog posts. BTW, it’s 128 vs 19 as of this posting. And the Observer still blows your sites away in terms of unaudited traffic data.