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Leading Off (2/18/14)

Morning News Prints Very Old News. This story in the paper today about the proposed teardown of I-345 made me scratch my head. It was written by Robert Wilonsky. The online headline: “Rawlings Says Dallas Hasn’t Given Up on Notion of Tearing Out Downtown Freeway.” Remember the five “W”s? One is missing: when. When did the mayor say that? The story begins in present tense (“Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says the city hasn’t given up …”). Then it switches to past (“But the mayor suggested that he’s not ready …”). And when a specific event is referenced (“The mayor’s remarks came during a meeting …”), the story doesn’t pin down when the event actually occurred. I stopped scratching my head when I remembered that Wilonsky wrote this story for the paper’s City Hall Blog five days ago. Good writing is hard to find in the News. That problem would be hard to remedy without firing a bunch of people. This sort of shortcoming, though — well, come on.

Six Flags Blames Manufacturer in Roller Coaster Death. Sharon Parker is the spokesperson for Six Flags. Sounds like a solid American working for a company I’ve heard of. Arnd von Waldow is the attorney for Gerstlauer Amusement Rides, the firm that made the Texas Giant’s trains. Whoa. Hang on. That dude sounds very, very German. Like more German than Götterdämmerung. Can I wager on the outcome of this fight if it goes to trial?

Elderly Plano Couple Dead In Apparent Murder-Suicide. They were in their 80s. They were suffering through some medical issues. In the comments, Tea Partiers can make your Obama remarks.

Jim Schutze Praises Dale Hansen. Schutze posted this early yesterday. I’m just now reading it. And I’m posting it only to troll Eric Celeste.

  • A. Nell Wirtz

    You picked the right story to criticize, but for the wrong reasons, Tim. My beef with the story is Rawlings is allowed to speak out of both sides of his mouth, and he’s not challenged. Rawlings has a unique gift for double talk on controversial issues where he has already been asked to make a decision.

    As for repackaged news? Meh. You do it, too. Also, I’d love to see you actually work at a newspaper before you suggest that our daily should fire everyone.

  • Tim Rogers

    Hey, fine, repackage the stuff. But but get all embarrassed about what you’re doing and try to hide the repackaging by leaving out an essential element of the story. Namely, when the story happened.

    I didn’t suggest that improving the writing in the News would require firing everyone. I said a bunch.

    And I have worked at a newspaper, albeit briefly. Star-Telegram. I was a fill-in in the features department for a few months while someone dealt with a health issue. Then I was hired full-time to be the travel editor. I worked exactly one day and then quit. Cried when I did it, too. Pretty spectacular.

  • Ferndale

    Yawn. Re: DMN: much ado about nothing. Recycling is pretty standard whether in digital or print format. If DMN is so horrible, will you please show us a daily of the same size and scope that it should emulate?

  • Tim Rogers

    When’s the last time you read the Washington Post? Not too much bigger than the DMN. But the writing in that paper makes the DMN look like a very small-town paper indeed.

  • jonbellah

    Their writing went downhill after Zoe Barnes left.

  • Ferndale

    Sir, I don’t think you have read that paper much. I’ll give them the edge on political reporting, which is the local industry. Not a shocker. Sports? DMN, fo’ sho. Local? WPo’s local columnists are better? Really? They are not worse, but give examples of their greatness. I do like that they have a younger bench than DMN. WaPo used to have a better editorial staff. Waaaay better. It’s been in a long slow decline since Bradley left. It’s definitely not superior to DMN. Bottom line is that WaPo still has a reputation because of political reporting only. The rest is standard fare.

  • BradfordPearson

    “The rest is standard fare” can be immediately refuted with one name: Eli Saslow.

  • Ferndale

    He’s greatness. And he’s also a political writer where I mentioned the Post clearly has an advantage. Now, show me a great non-political columnist at WaPo and and refute my claim. Standard. Fare. Tim’s original argument feels like more sniping because of your battle with DMN over ad dollars, not a real argument about journalism.

  • BradfordPearson

    I’d argue that he isn’t a political writer anymore, but I see your point. As for the rest of the Post: their music, arts, local news, and sports are all better than the DMN’s. I also worked for the company (at its regional newspaper chain) for three years, so maybe I’m biased.

  • Tim Rogers

    I think you and I are talking about different things. You seem to be talking about reporting, about gathering information, about publishing scoops, about being a thought leader (or whatever). I’m just talking about writing. Putting words on the page in a certain way.

    I went to the WaPo site and picked the first columnist that caught my eye. Petula Dvorak. Here’s what she wrote about the snow storm that rolled through their part of the country:

    That is better-written than what you’ll find in the DMN. Is it great? No. Better? Yes.

  • D. Shaprio

    I don’t understand the 2nd-to-last paragraph of Jim Schutze’s story.

  • Tim Rogers

    I don’t snipe because of anything to do with ad dollars. In fact, I doubt we battle for them. Ours is a much smaller, more affluent audience than the DMN’s. Very different ad buys.

    I snipe because I think the writing in the DMN should and could be better. I snipe because when a paper publishes weak, flabby, corn-pone writing, it reflects poorly on its city.

    In this case, though, it was none of that. I sniped because an editor removed an important part of a story in an effort to trick readers into thinking they were reading news.

  • Dubious Brother

    I have seen Hansen’s editorial on Sam and share his view that I do not live in or understand the gay world. To me the Sam story is the childhood he had to endure to get where he is today and I wonder if he was sexually abused as a child before he identified as being gay as an adult , a little publicized potential aspect of gay men.
    I am about Hansen’s age and not Sam’s but when I was 22, if I had to share a locker room with 50 cheerleader type females, which I guess is the equivalent to a gay man sharing the locker room with 50 football players, I think it would have been hard to not show my enthusiasm for at least some of my team mates and at the same time difficult to focus on the task at hand.

  • Ferndale

    Man, Tim, the more you write, the more you cherry pick your original argument. Since DMagazine stop competing with DMN’s FDeluxe for ad dollars? Their advertisers either used to be yours or could be yours.

  • Ferndale

    So you’d hypothetically fire some DMN reporters (one of your original arguements) just because of their writing skills? Their reporting had nothing to do with it? Does not compute.

  • Eric Celeste

    I think Dale is a fantastic news reader and video columnist.

  • Brett Moore

    And there it is again…

  • Bill Marvel

    I’ll give you another: Gene Weingarten