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BONES-CONWAY and associates IMAGE PROJECTION Thomas S. Bones and Patrick Conway announce the formation of a new advertising and public relations service in Austin. Bones-Conway and Associates offer a complete Image Projection service to business, industrial, institutional, and political clients. Bones-Conway in association with allied consultants offer total programs in marketing, polling, statistical surveys and technical, trade or political program representation. and associates 901 Littlefield Building Austin, Texas 78701 Phone AC 512/477-1744 Austin’s Daily Newspapers Austin The inadequacies of Austin’s monopoly daily newspapers have long been a subject of wonder here. Most all of the shortcomings can be attributed to management’s pinchpenney economy.. Economics directly or indirectly, precipitated the leaving of the editor-in-chief, the managing editor, city editor, a senior desk man with 30 years experience, and a reporter, all in the month of June. The American and Statesman are probably the only morning and afternoon papers in a major Texas city that have a single staff. The papers virtually are identical, except for different editorial pages, comics and a juggling of some news pages. A-S reporters don’t write “overnighters” as is the practice on most major newspapers; a local story written for the afternoon paper will not be rewritten for the next morning’s paper; rather, it will be held in type to be rerun the next morning. While most daily newspapers close their front pages about 1 a.m., the American goes to bed practically with the chickens, sometimes as early as 8 p.m. Reporters say the newspaper’s motto should be, “All the news from 9 to 5.” Bill Woods, the resigned city editor, learned of Sen. Robert Kennedy’s assassination about 2 a.m., Austin time, soon after the shots were fired. He stopped the printing of the morning paper early in its press run and called highers-up to get permissiori to redo the front page. His request was refused on the grounds that it would cost the newspaper about $700 extra. So Austinites learned of the senator’s death from their radios and television sets. Although the American and Statesman are the only daily newspapers in Austin, their publisher has acted as if they were in competition for every advertising cent they earn. The policy has been simply not to print anything that might offend an advertiser. The newspaper is filled graphs of store managers standing next to new television sets, pages devoted to “business news” such as the opening of a dry cleaning establishment or hamburger joint. The percentage of advertising run in the Austin dailies is remarkably high, even for Texas, a state where the daily papers have a higher percentage of their content given over to advertising that do the better papers nationwide. If it were willing to pay even moderately good salaries, the newspaper could attract talented journalists. The state’s best communications school is located a few miles away at the University of Texas. Many of the school’s graduates, enamored with the pleasant capitol community, would like to work in Austin, but the American-Statesman salaries have been more than low. They’ve been demeaning. A few years ago, a national newsmagazine reported with horror that the Austin paper paid reporters as little as $60 a week. The scale is a little higher today. Reporters’ salaries range from $90 to $140 a week. The scale leaves little room for financial advancement. After a very few years, an American-Statesman employee reaches his top pay, and then he usually moves on. A feW months ago, the reportorial staff united in an attempt to raise salaries. In making a case to present to management, reporters in the women’s department, the lowest paid of all, discovered they were earning the same as Austin garbage truck drivers, but, as the women pointed out, they don’t get free uniforms. Editor Dave Shanks was faced with a virtual rebellion. Harlan Fentress, head of Newspapers, Inc., which includes the Austin papers, the Waco News-Tribune, the Port Arthur News and the Lufkin News, reportedly told Shanks to fire the whole staff if necessary; rather than grant them raises. It was pointed out that a mass firing might bring an investigation by the National Labor Relations Board. So Fentress suggested the dissidents be removed a few at a time over a six-month span. Instead, Glen Castlebury, then city hall reporter and a leader of the campaign for higher salaries, was elevated to the newly-created position of “assistant to the editor.” With Castlebury’s defection of management’s side, the campaign lost its impetus. The newspaper gave $5 a week raises to 18 members of the staff, but many remained in a mutinous frame of mind. Shanks, a former farm editor who became editor-in-chief in February, shunned anything controversial, as had his predecessor, the late Charles Green. Shanks was more comfortable with local businessmen than with his own staff, and he was completely out of his element with reporters clamoring for more money. Appointing Castlebury his assistant did nothing to improve Shanks’ relations with the staff. On the other side, Fentress and his nephew, Dick Brown, publisher of the Austin papers, apparently were not impressed with his handling of the wage revolt. Another awkward incident occurred during the spring. The new city hall reporter, Sara Speights, was publicly criticized by a prominent Austin businessman. Managing Editor Bob Rodgers and City Editor Woods, convinced that the criticism was unjustified, asked Shanks to write a letter to the civic leader requesting an apology. Instead, the editor recommended that the reporter be taken off her beat and that all regular beats be abandoned. “We only get in trouble by going out and looking for news,” Shanks was reported to have said. Rodgers answered, “If that’s the way you want to run this newspaper, Bill and I have better things to do with our time.” Within two months both Woods and Rodgers had resigned to take jobs in other cities. Shanks himself left soon thereafter. The publishers apparently had decided they wanted a man who could handle the staff as well as the business community. The announcement that Shanks had accepted a job as a researcher came from his new employer, Lumbermen’s Investment Corp., which deals in mortgages and real estate. Sam Wood, the conservative chief of the chain’s capitol bureau, was installed as the new editor. “I was managing editor and assistant editor of the Waco paper for 15 years,” Wood told the Observer. “I have some definite ideas how a newspaper should be run. There are some areas of improvement I have in mind, but I’m not ready to discuss them yet,” he said. The staff seems pleased with its new editor. Reporters are hopeful he will be able to upgrade both the newspaper and their wages. “A newspaper editorial department is a living thing,” Wood said. “It can only be efficient if it has happy people, and I’m going to do all I can to make them happy. We’re going to start building up the staff and from there we’re going to build a newspaper.” K.N. August 9, 1968