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Nina Pham: A Case Study in Media Manipulation

Please understand that I am not commenting here on the merits of Ebola survivor Nina Pham’s lawsuit against Texas Health Resources. She says she has nightmares and her hair is falling out. She says Presby used a video of her without her consent. Maybe she’s entitled to some money. And maybe, as she has said, she really does want to “make hospitals and big corporations realize that nurses and health care workers, especially frontline people, are important.”

No, what I want to talk about is Charla Aldous, the lawyer representing Pham. Because Aldous has pretty much posterized Texas Health, and right now she’s hanging on the rim, looking down at Texas Health, enjoying the afterglow of her monster dunk. If I’m reading her playbook correctly — and I’d like to think I am — here’s how she did it:

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Warren Buffett Recommends D Magazine to Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders

Over the weekend, legendary investor Warren Buffett, the “Sage of Omaha,” released his annual letter to shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway. Each year the financial world pores over Buffett’s words as if they are tea leaves predicting the future of the world economy. And considering that Buffett is the world’s third-richest man, it’s not hard to understand why.

Well, among his advice this year: Read D Magazine.

Before I depart the subject of spin-offs, let’s look at a lesson to be learned from a conglomerate mentioned earlier: LTV. I’ll summarize here, but those who enjoy a good financial story should read the piece about Jimmy Ling that ran in the October 1982 issue of D Magazine. Look it up on the Internet.

Through a lot of corporate razzle-dazzle, Ling had taken LTV from sales of only $36 million in 1965 to number 14 on the Fortune 500 list just two years later. Ling, it should be noted, had never displayed any managerial skills. But Charlie told me long ago to never underestimate the man who overestimates himself. And Ling had no peer in that respect.

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Schutze Was at a Very Different DISD Meeting Than Was the Morning News

Do you know why it’s unfortunate that print media revenue is falling and online media revenue is a pie split so many different ways as to make it difficult to fund any sizable news-gathering operation? Do you know why it’s a shame that we live in an age where most cities, including Dallas, have one only one daily newspaper?

If you don’t, then I point you to Jim Schutze’s take on the same Dallas ISD board meeting that I mentioned (linking to a Dallas Morning News story) in this morning’s “Leading Off.” The Unfair Park account of what occurred is so different from the perspective offered by DMN reporters Tawnell Hobbs and Matthew Haag that I might believe you if you told me they had been filed from parallel universes:

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Trammell Crow Visits D Magazine’s EarBurner Podcast, Episode 2

Not that Trammell Crow, the other one. Trammell S. Crow, the real estate scion and the force behind Earth Day Texas. He was good enough to bring his posse to the Old Monk to chat with Tim Rogers and Zac Crain about the event that’s planned for the last weekend of April in Fair Park.

But don’t hit the snooze button just yet. Crow is an odd duck who doesn’t fit into all the usual stereotypes of a Dallas rich guy. It’s a fun conversation, even if Tim neglects to introduce himself and Zac at the outset.

Before I leave you to it, a couple of corrections:

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DMN Sets Twitter Goal for Its Reporters

Jeffrey Weiss used to cover religion for the Morning News until they killed that beat. Now he covers regional education issues. He has been a reporter for more than three decades. And he needs your help. On Tuesday, here’s what he wrote on Facebook:

I’m shamelessly trolling here for Twitter followers. The DMN has set a goal of 1K per person. I’m not there. I like FB a lot better than Twitter. But when the company sets a goal, to hear is to obey. I’m a sporadic Tweeter. I don’t post much just to kibbitz. Curated, if you will. So I won’t fill up your Tweet stream. If you have a mind, I’m at @jeffreyweissdmn

As of this morning at 9:52, Weiss had only 808 followers. Please, people, if you can find it in your hearts to follow him, it sure would help. Thank you. Also, Tod Robberson has only 724. He could use a little love. Oh, and James Ragland has 307.

UPDATE (11:28) Someone at the paper just passed me an interesting Twitter memo that was sent to DMN staff. It was sent Tuesday by Michael Landauer, whose title is digital communities manager:

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Tracy Rowlett, Byron Harris Rip Bill O’Reilly’s Claim in 1970s Suicide Story

A disputed tale about his reporting days in Dallas could turn into a big problem for Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, who has the most-watched program on cable news. The story, as the host of “The O’Reilly Factor” has told it in his books including Killing Kennedy and Kennedy’s Last Days and on the Fox News Channel, occurred during his stint as a reporter for WFAA Channel 8 in the 1970s. Reporting on a figure in the investigation into the John F. Kennedy assassination named George de Mohrenschildt—a Russian emigre who’d befriended Lee Harvey Oswald—O’Reilly claimed that he was standing outside the house in Palm Beach, Florida, where, and when, de Mohrenschildt apparently killed himself with a shotgun blast one day in March of 1977. Wrote O’Reilly: “As I knocked on the door, I heard a shotgun blast. He had killed himself.”

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This Is the Last Week For #HiddenDallas Entries

We’re running out of time to receive your entries in our #HiddenDallas contest. Just share your closely held secrets of how to live life to the max in this city — via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or other social media, using the hashtag #HiddenDallas. We’ll pick the best, and the winner will get a $200 gift certificate to Marie Gabrielle Restaurants & Gardens.

This contest turns into a pumpkin after Saturday, so hop to it. Check out some of the latest entries for inspiration:

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DMN Screws DISD With Ad Placement

As Liz mentioned in Leading Off, Sunday’s paper brought us a long front-page story about DISD hiring too many teachers and then misinforming the board about the matter. An alert FrontBurnervian sent along the image above, pointing out how funny it is that the jump of that story landed across from a full-page DISD ad seeking teacher applicants. If I were in charge of buying ads for the district, I would demand a make-good.

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Listen to D Magazine’s New Podcast, EarBurner

As Tim teased yesterday, D Magazine has embarked upon a brave new era of audio entertainment. We’ve launched our new podcast, EarBurner, for your listening pleasure.

The first episode, which you can stream right now via the embedded player below, was recorded yesterday at the Old Monk. We viewed this session much the way you do the first pancake from a batch of batter: you know, the one you usually just have to throw out because it doesn’t come out right.

But I think we exceeded our own extremely low expectations, and your hosts Tim and Zac, and special guest Tara Nieuwesteeg, managed to produce a light and tasty confection that you shouldn’t have to drown in syrup to make edible.

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Question for the Group: What Should We Call Our Podcast?

Looks like Zac and I will attempt a podcast. Without getting too heavy into the details, it’ll be kinda like FrontBurner (actual Dallas-related content mixed with time-wasting foolishness). About six years ago, a fellow named Adam McGill and I attempted something like this. We called it FrontBurner For Your Ears. A woman named Charity Beaver was once a guest. But I digress. We did the thing without buying any equipment, using instead a free service called Blog Talk Radio, which relies on telephones to record sound. The audio quality was not top notch (to say nothing of the content). This time we’ve invested some money. We’ve got microphones. And even a microphone stand.

So I throw it to you, dear content consumer. What should we call this thing? Keep the name FrontBurner For Your Ears? Something snappier? Anything in particular you’re interested in hearing?

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Grapevine Charity GRACE Needs Help After Fire

One day when I was 7 and in elementary school, the apartment building where I lived burned down. The fire was started when the kid who lived upstairs was playing with matches, and it spread fast. We lost just about everything: clothes, furniture, even the dishes in the cabinets. All of my toys and video games were gone, and the few stuffed animals my mom tried to save were singed and smelled like smoke for years. I can still remember seeing my little piggy bank, melted into a strange new shape, with the small amount of money I’d collected sealed inside forever.

There were a lot of groups that helped us, including several churches and some of the teachers at school. But no organization helped more than Grapevine Relief and Community Exchange, better known as GRACE. They helped with food and clothing and furniture and dishes and, the thing that fixed most permanently in my 7-year-old brain: toys. Nothing grand, but when you have nothing, anything is great. And they gave me a new (to me) piggy bank.

I mention all of this because now GRACE needs help. Last week two men started a fire that destroyed the donation center, took out months worth of donations, and caused more than $75,000 in damages. Grapevine Craft Brewery (maker of the controversially delicious Sir William’s English Brown Ale) has already stepped in to help raise funds. (With beer!) But they need more help. There’s an event this Saturday at the GRACE facility in Grapevine, where you can drink beer, eat barbecue, and listen to music, all while helping an organization that has helped a lot of people. You can also donate through this GoFundMe page.

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A Few Words About David Carr

I worked with David at a magazine in Minneapolis in the late 1980s. I was a lowly editorial assistant; he was a staff writer. It was my job to type manuscripts into a fancy new Tandy computer and print them out for the editor to read. Even though David was battling a drug problem at the time, his brilliance came through in his work. I have never seen anyone more gifted at stringing words together than David, especially when describing people or scenes. He also was like a Pied Piper, always leading a gaggle out to drink after work. Sometimes he’d be with his buddy Tom Arnold, who’d come into the office from time to time. I’d occasionally tag along. David never wanted the party to end.

In the first chapter of his memoir, The Night of the Gun, David wrote about getting fired from the magazine. I was sitting right outside the door when the editor gave him a rehab ultimatum. David wasn’t ready and walked out. Eventually, of course, he was ready, and his talent and perseverance led him to become one of the most respected and successful journalists in the country. He loved, loved, loved what he did. Here’s one of my favorite quotes of his:

Journalism is “a grand, grand caper. You get to leave, go talk to strangers, ask them anything, come back, type up their stories, edit the tape. That’s not gonna retire your loans as quickly as it should, and it’s not going to turn you into a person who’s worried about what kind of car they should buy, but that’s kind of as it should be. I mean, it beats working.”

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