News Top 10s

David Dewhurst Promotes German Patriotism in <i>Texas Monthly</i>
David Dewhurst Promotes German Patriotism in Texas Monthly (Illustration By Doug Potter)

Top 10 Media Stories

1. Austin American-Statesman Rises to Sept. 11: The reporters at the local daily did a commendable job of meeting the challenge of our new day of infamy. They explored seemingly every aspect of the tragedy, international, national, and local, and did it with solid reporting and professionalism.

2. Rich Oppel Doesn't: Meanwhile, the President's Editor bravely assumed the role of resident windbag, with a series of Sunday thumbsuckers devoted to such mordant subjects as abolishing the estate tax, grim anti-terrorist musings, misty meditations on the transformation of the American spirit, patriotic exhortations to buy more stuff, and ponderous endorsements of "responsibility" and "statesmanship." Block that lede: "It was a bitterly cold and blustery day ..."

3. Media Layoffs: It was a hard year to hold a job in the news media. Here in Texas, Belo (owner of The Dallas Morning News and KVUE-TV, among other properties) laid off 160, the Houston Chronicle 127, the San Antonio Express-News 40. Also, alt-weeklies the Dallas Observer and Houston Press cut longtime staff writers, while the Fort Worth Weekly switched ownership and canned editor John Forsyth; and Clear Channel Radio (KASE and KVET, among others), KEYE-TV, and KLRU-TV all trimmed staff.

Robert Jensen (above) vs. Larry Faulkner
Robert Jensen (above) vs. Larry Faulkner (Photo By John Anderson)

4. Mike Clark-Madison vs. Eric Mitchell: Austin Chronicle City Editor Mike Clark-Madison actually had the gall to recall mayoral candidate Eric Mitchell's 1997 race-baiting farewell to Austin politics; in response, Mitchell supporters demanded Clark-Madison's removal from the city's library commission. City Council Member Daryl Slusher, who had appointed him, quickly caved and complied.

5. Robert Jensen vs. Larry Faulkner: Shortly after Sept. 11, UT journalism professor Bob Jensen actually had the gall to tell Houston Chronicle readers some ugly truths about American foreign policy; in response, UT President Faulkner found it necessary to write a letter not only distancing his administration from Jensen, but also calling the faculty member "a fountain of undiluted foolishness on matters of public policy." UT fountains of wisdom Marvin Olasky and Walt Rostow were reportedly green with envy.

6. KAZI's Frank Garrett and KVET's Sammy & Bob Trumpet Eric Mitchell's Non-Campaign: Self-anointed "people's candidate" Mitchell vowed to spend no money and accept no contributions, but wasn't shy about accepting the pro malo publico promotion delivered by Rev. Garrett's Wake Up Call (possibly violating federal nonprofit law) and Sammy Allred and Bob Cole's Anybody-But-Gus morning tirades. When Garcia trounced him anyway, Mitchell and Garrett declared victory and Sammy and Bob returned to more pressing matters: Simms vs. Applewhite.

7. David Dewhurst Promotes German Patriotism in Texas Monthly: Lt. Gov. candidate David Dewhurst promoted his appointment to homeland security director with an ad in Texas Monthly -- featuring a picture of a German Luftwaffe officer! "Great, our Homeland Security czar can't even recognize a foreign soldier in uniform in his own ad," wrote Molly Ivins. "Hard to believe a terrorist might slip past him."

8. Commercials Allegedly Rip Off Animator: After local animator Bob Sabiston (Rick Linklater's Waking Life) backed out of doing a commercial for Internet service provider Earthlink, the commercials that finally appeared were strikingly similar to a style unique to that produced by Sabiston's software. Sabiston said he's being used; Earthlink's ad agency says he was paid a consulting fee.

9. Changes at KUT: More Morning Edition, less John Aielli, no world music show, some interesting new documentary work. All of this presages the incoming KUT news department, which is expected to take flight real soon and hopefully give Austinites a quality alternative to the dreadful state of local news on the airwaves.

10. Chronicle Turns 20: Hey, you didn't think we'd leave this off this list, did you? Started two decades ago with a few dollars from Nick Barbaro's mom and a lot of madness, The Austin Chronicle has risen from a scrappy, barely sustainable biweekly rag to an enduring presence in Austin's life. Hope we die before we get old? Too late.

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