Okay, seriously, if I stepped down to spend more time with my family, I think my family would go into hiding. I love my family too much to do that to them.
Best I can tell, I have edited D Magazine longer than anyone else except Wick Allison, who has stepped into the role several times since he founded the thing in October 1974. Ruth Miller Fitzgibbons takes the second spot on the list, after me. She had the conn from 1985 to 1991, if my math is right. Two things about her tenure: first, the only way she made it six years is because Wick wasn’t here, having sold the magazine and decamped for New York in 1982 (which is not meant to cast aspersions on Ruth). Second, Ruth hired me as an intern. Circle of life. All that.
It’s unclear when Wick handed over the controls (mostly) to me. He made me the executive editor in late 2003 but wisely stayed involved on a daily basis. At some point, he stopped attending editorial meetings, and then he made me editor. Or he made me editor and then stopped showing up. Anyway, I can claim more years than Ruth. That’s all that really matters.
So it’s time. Having arrived at a destination that I never planned to find, I am taking a turn and pointing my car in another direction, one that I hope will lead to fewer tortured metaphors. Or was that a simile? Oh, hell. Maybe I’ve made the wrong decision.
Here’s the memo Wick sent to the staff:
A few days ago, Wick mused on Robert Decherd’s negative cash flow strategy. The upshot: “Belo projects $37 to $41 million in adjusted EBITDA this year. Taking the higher number and deducting their planned extra expenditures …Â it looks to me like they will leak cash to the tune of $11 million or more.” Wick rather cheekily surmised that Decherd is trying to make his company look unattractive so that no one will make a run at its shares.
Now comes news that AH Belo will leak even more cash, as it is upping the pay of its top brass. Next month, Decherd’s annual base salary will jump 25 percent to $600,000. Morning News publisherÂ Jim Moroney’s base salary will increase 15.5 percent to $540,000. Chief financial officer Alison Engel’s will increase 8.3 percent to $325,000. And senior vice president Daniel Blizzard’s will increase 12 percent to $280,000.
Seems to me a hard sell in the newsroom.
Michelle Saunders is one of our new interns. Her first day was Thursday. She seemed to do well. We’re working on getting our March issue out the door, so I didn’t have time to ask a lot of questions. But then on Friday, I had to tell her to leave (I feel guilty when interns work later than I do). She said she had just a couple more things to finish and she was only going to stay until 6 or so. I begged her not to, and then I left. I still haven’t asked her how late she stayed. I’m afraid of the answer.
However, she sent me a note this morning from her first day. It amused me, and I thought it might amuse you as well.
Please allow me to introduce myself.Â My name is Michelle Saunders and I am one of the new spring 2012 interns here at D.Â Just how new, you ask?Â Keep reading and you’ll understand.Yesterday was my first day and it started off without a hitch, er with relative hitches, well…define hitch (oh wait, that’s my job!).Â I left my house in plenty of time and despite typical Dallas traffic, made it to the parking garage a couple of blocks from the office in just enough time to walk there.Â Although I’m growing increasingly nervous, I set off with a jaunty step, ready to edit, highlight, slash, and verify.
I call my mom to let her know I’m about to start and I talk to her as I walk…until I trip and eat pavement just one short block from the office. Did I mention I’m on Ross Avenue? In the heart of Downtown? During morning rush hour? Yes, Dallas, that was me, Michelle, who accidentally flashed you as I scrambled to retrieve the contents of my bag, my laptop, phone, and dignity (in that order). Luckily the light changed quickly so I couldn’t see your faces as you sped by me, smirking behind your tinted windows.
Big Bob mentioned yesterday the news that former Morning News editorial writer Rod Dreher (he of Crunchy Con fame) has left his gig with the Templeton Foundation to take up with an magazine called The American Conservative. Rod explains here why he’s pumped to have the new job. Anyway, what Bob didn’t mention is that The American Conservative is a Wick Allison joint. He’s the CEO of The American Ideas Institute, the nonprofit publisher of the magazine. My understanding is that Rod now reports directly to me, in a sort of more or less weak dotted line way. Couldn’t be happier.
This Friday is a special day at D Magazine because of something Wick said two years ago. The staff at the time was just really starting to embrace to Twitter, which Wick thought was a waste of time. He confidently proclaimed, “Twitter will be dead in two years.” This Friday marks two years since that proclamation. I will make a bold prediction of my own: Twitter will not die between now and Friday. I base my prediction in part on this Wall Street Journal story that says Twitter is worth $7 billion.
P.S.: Follow me @timmytyper. Gotta stay ahead of Zac.
P.P.S.: Krista will be along in a minute with a story about Councilwoman Angela Hunt and the power of Twitter.
Over the weekend, Wick and Jim Schutze had interesting exhange on the blog, with Wick pointing out that Schutze intentionally quoted him out of context to make the point that this magazine has been “rah-rah’ing” for the Trinity toll road. Yes, in 2007, when the city voted on a referendum on the road, the magazine supported the toll road. But that support ended, far as I can tell, in 2009.
Schutze is right when he says that the Observer has been the lead dog in the hunt to dig up the truth about flood safety and how it would be affected by a roll road built into the levee. He deserves to thump his chest and say, “I told ya so.” But the headline of that told-ya-so post is “It’s Been Truly Inspiring to Watch D Apologize for Rah-Rah’ing Trinity Toll Road. Oh, Wait.”
Here’s the opening of Wick’s recanting from 2009: “My apologies to those who have been waiting for the latest salvo in the Wick Allison vs. Angela Hunt debate. There will be no salvo, because on her central point, Angela Hunt is right.”
I’ve written in this space before (and again here) about how the Dallas Morning News covers Parkland and UT Southwestern. Short version: I think the paper and the hospital have gotten to the point where, if they were a husband and wife, it would be best for everyone concerned if they’d go ahead and file for divorce. The paper performs its watchdog role a bit, oh, shall we say, aggressively. The hospital takes a defensive stance. The more (understandably) defensive the hospital becomes, the more aggressive the paper gets. It’s a downward spiral.
Now, apparently, D Magazine is caught in that downward spiral, I presume because of what I’ve written on FrontBurner. On May 5, the DMN filed an open records request with Parkland. You can read the entire thing after the jump. But here’s what they’re asking for: “Any e-mails, notes or memos since Jan. 1, 2010, including the following keywords: Miles Moffeit, Ryan McNeill, Daniel Lathrop, Sue Goetinck, Sue Ambrose, Sue Goetinck Ambrose, Brooks Egerton, Reese Dunklin, The Dallas Morning News, DMN, D Magazine, Bob Mong, Jim Moroney, George Rodrigue, Maud Beelman, Sherry Jacobson, Morning News, The News, Andy Stern, Sunwest Communications, David Margulies, The Margulies Communications Group, Tim Rogers, Wick Allison, Texas Public Information Act, TPIA or open records.”
Andy Stern runs Sunwest Communications, a PR firm under contract with Parkland. Margulies Communications used to do PR for Parkland. All the other names belong to DMN people. Seems pretty clear that the paper has concocted a conspiracy theory that involves D Magazine working with Parkland’s PR firm(s) to defend the hospital.
Well, I can save the paper some work. Andy Stern and I are, in fact, conspiring. We’re conspiring so hard that we’re actually playing golf together this Friday out at the Four Seasons. Stern owns a whole closet full of red pants that he gets to wear every year for the HP Byron Nelson Championship. Me, out of deference to Stern, I wear red shorts to the media tourney every year. That’s why we’re playing Friday. And you know what we’re going to do (besides win the media tourney)? We’re going to talk about Miles Moffeit, Ryan McNeill, Daniel Lathrop, Sue Goetinck, Brooks Egerton, Reese Dunklin, Bob Mong, Jim Moroney, George Rodrigue, Maud Beelman, Sherry Jacobson, and the Dallas Morning News. Then we’re going to talk about the DMN. Then we’re going to talk about the Morning News. And then, simply, the News.
The last topic, you’ll notice, wasn’t covered by their open-records request. Bwwaaa-HA-haahahahhaa! [rubbing hands together conspiratorially]
Update (1:09): Upon close inspection, I see that they have requested info pertaining to “the News.” Curse you and your thoroughness, Ryan McNeill, computer-assisted reporting editor! Fine, though. Stern and I will just have to discuss “the MN.”
Hey, Wick, did you know that Libertarian candidate John Jay Myers is using your off-handed remark about sending him money has an endorsement? From Myers’ campaign:
I think it’s fantastic that someone as influential as Mr. Allison understands the people of Dallas are faced with no choice among the other two candidates. Now, if I can only convince 200,000 other folks in District 32.
A mysterious outfit (Big Bob dug a little into their whereabouts) has come out with a ranking of the 500 most powerful people in Dallas. Our own beloved Wick Allison sits at No. 340 on the list. I see, though, that he’s ahead of: Gerald Turner, Patrick Sands, Craig Watkins, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Claude Albritton, Nelda Pickens, and Terrell Owens (!). And Jeremy Halbreich comes in at No. 462. So let’s just say the list is dubious, at best.
The results of the little poll we took the other day are clear-cut: FrontBurnervians agree with Wick by a 2-to-1 margin that local and state leaders should alter the tax system that allows Dallas Country Club and Brook Hollow Golf Club to receive an exemption even as they have no black members.
In the June 2010 issue of D Magazine, Wick argues that segregation in the city’s best neighborhoods will hurt Dallas’ future. We’ve gotten a number of letters and responses to this column. Our sister newspapers, Park Cities People and Preston Hollow People, which also ran the article last week, have had four readers cancel subscriptions because of it.
Here’s a sampling of some of the responses we’ve received.
D Magazine editor in chief Wick Allison answers that question with a resounding “no” in the June issue of our print product. His “Leading Off” column says Dallas’ hopes of joining the ranks of the world’s greatest cities could be hurt by the continued segregation in the most affluent neighborhoods near downtown: Greenway Parks, Highland Park, University Park, and Preston Hollow.
Wick calls upon state and city leaders to address this situation in which upper-income blacks don’t seem to be comfortable living in these communities. One step that lawmakers could take is eliminating the real property tax exemptions enjoyed by the Dallas County Club and Brook Hollow Golf Club. “Will the Texas Legislature address this inequity in the property code that requires homeowners to subsidize racial discrimination?” Wick asks.
Read the whole thing. Then vote in this informal blog poll:
In addition to Jason’s appearance on KERA today, Our Leader was on David Johnson’s CEO Spotlight show Friday on KRLD-AM. The reason Wick and Jason are budding radio stars: D‘s special Super Bowl edition, which will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about the 2011 game in Arlington. And then some.
I just returned from a pleasant visit up to the second floor of our offices to chat with a salesperson. They are good people up there. Give one of them a call. Buy an ad. You’ll see. Anyway, en route back to my desk, I noticed a new installation in the hallway. One entire wall has been covered with carefully placed velcro strips to which apparently will be affixed about 500 pictures of Wick. Feels a little North Korea-y. I like it.
The annual meeting of the DowntownDallas organization, the folks who helped you find your D Spot, just concluded at the Sheraton. Our fearless leader, Wick Allison, moderated a panel at the luncheon. I’ll give you a recap (at great personal risk) if you’ll be kind enough to jump.
Nice work, Wick. Your story about State Sen. John Carona cost us a subscriber. We received the following letter this morning from a Rob in Southlake:
I subscribe to D for lighthearted articles about restaurants and local personalities (a respite from the real world). A one-sided, naÃ¯ve article about how the GOP are hypocritical and wantonly bad spendthrifts while the Democrats are honest and well-intentioned spendthrifts is NOT what I want from D. If you’re going to take on such topics, have someone capable write the piece. This is high school level the-world-is-black-and-white opinion writing. If you’re going to do it, do it right. Either way, I won’t be reading it because I’m not renewing. Nothing like being told by a lightweight entertainment mag that the party you support is cowardly and hypocritical.