want to have a good newspaper. The only people whose opinions he cares about are the ones who are in his bridge club and maybe at the American Bank. People he thinks can still help him, although now that he thinks he’s made it, there aren’t so many of them.” AS NETHAWAY saw it, when he took over he was facing a paper hopelessly, split up into independent duchies. The various department heads on the paper had been accustomed to running their own shows in their own fashion and resented any kind of outside interference or central coordination. Beat reporters felt that they owned their beats and not only didn’t want advice or direction as to how they might better cover them, but also resented having their work edited in any way whatever. As people like Bustin saw it, Nethaway and his team, possibly under pressure from higher management, started dabbling in departments they knew little about and changing systems that were working well. In any case, Bustin departed, leaving his assistant Marjorie Hoffman to run the amusements section. The A-S started hunting for a news amusements editor and Hoffman filed a sex-discrimination suit with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. The A-S brought in one Susan Barton from Dallas a female, note to replace Bustin. , A lot of people thought her first column was drivel. Someone thought it was so bad that he or she put an edited version of it on Ms. Barton’s typewriter, apparently with a lot of insulting comments scribbled in the margins. The criticism was unsigned. Management hit the fan. They conducted a search. They concluded that the culprit was one Dottie Fish, a reporter on the women’s section. For evidence \(Ms. Fish had been home pointed out that Fish and her colleague, women’s editor Carolyn Bengtson, were in the habit of editing, with some mildly scathing comments, the columns of a sports writer named Jack Cowan. Cowan was known for producing such masterpieces as “No Girl Gridders Wanted,” a sexist piece of tripe in junior high schoolese. Fish and Bengtson amused themselves by underlining all his “you know’s” and “I mean’s” in addition to making irreverent comments in the margins. They say these marked columns never went outside “sock” \(for Society maintains that management searched her 4 The Texas Observer desk while looking for “the smoking pistol.” Management maintains that they didn’t and besides that, it was the A-S’s desk, not Fish’s. Apparently in the course of searching for evidence that Fish was responsible for the dastardly attack on Barton, management located a parody written by Ms. Fish on July 1, 1974. It was a parody of an article that had just appeared in the A-S entitled “Amusements Staff Doubles in Size.” Ms. Fish’s version was headed, “Women’s Staff Cut in Half.” The women’s staff had, in fact, just been cut by three-fifths, and Ms. Fish wrote about this in the same sort of inanely glowing prose that had distinguished the A-S’s own story on its amusements staff. Ms. Bengtson, she noted, had been made women’s editor because she was a life-long woman. She herself had once authored a fetching epigram on how to make a lemon chiffon pie. The parody also contained a reference whole was apparently held to be a piece of ase majeste and Ms. Fish was fired. A few days later, her husband Rick Fish, who worked in the A-S’s capitol bureau and was highly regarded by his colleagues in the capitol press corps, resigned. Not long after, Ms. Bengtson and Candy Lowry, another “sock” reporter, also quit. In the meantime, Susan White, who was working on the amusements section, got crossways with a testy editor. One day he yelled at her several times from across the city room. She finally turned and said, dog.” She was given her walking papers. Marjorie Hoffman was on her way to make copies of a story she had done one day when Susan Barton, who apparently felt that employees should not use the company copying machine, attempted to restrain her physically. Ms. Hoffman was fired and has since filed assault charges against Barton. The A-S is contesting Hoffman’s claim for unemployment insurance with the Texas Employment Commission, which is apparently the paper’s practice in every single case. NEXT, in January, the A-S decided that it was in an economic squeeze, ad lineage was off, and it was time for economy measures. So the paper layed off four editorial employees. There are a good many conspiracy theories as to who was chosen and how. One of the chosen was Homer Olson, 64, an editorial page employee with 37 years of service, a few months short of his pension, A-S staffers, by now somewhat paranoid, felt that management had done this dreadful thing to Olson out of sheer callousness. In fact, we are told, management was not aware that Olson had a pension problem and when they did realize the problem, they arranged to put him on an official leave of absence for the requisite number of months so that his pension would not be threatened. The staff would probably not have been quite so bitter about the layoffs had the paper not hired two new staffers in the week before they layed off the four older ones. In fact, one of the new hired on the day before the group firing. Morale hit a new low. Nethaway gave a beer party for the staff to cheer everybody up. He had asked around the business office if there was money available for such a project and someone opened up his marble heart and came up with 20 bucks. Word got around that that was all Sam Wood had seen fit to furnish for the occasion. In fact, it was all that was in petty cash, or whatever the good time fund at the A-S is. The cheering-up party was on Friday, Jan. 31. On Saturday, Feb. 1 a reporter named Debbie Byrd was sent to do a color Awards banquet. The Headliners Awards \(see Obs., the prestige awards in Texas journalism. They are also the A-S’s pet cause rather like The New York Times’ Christmas Drive for the Neediest. The awards are officially called the Charles E. Green Awards, after a late editor of the A-S. The man in charge of the judging process is none other than Sam Wood. And all in all, if ever a newspaper had a sacred cow, it’s the A-S and the Headliners Awards. The A-S has had, in the opinion of non-A-S reporters, a distressingly clear tendency over the years to win an inordinate share of Headliners Awards. \(Wood sends the entries out of the A-S again picked up the top prize this year, this time for a team effort in covering the unsuccessful constitutional convention. Jealous reporters from other papers nick-named it “the overkill award.” The A-S was a little sensitive about the award anyway, since the number two man on the team that won it was the departed Rick Fish. The number three person on that team was Dixie Shipp, who had done yeoman service at the capitol bureau during the convention, only to be told after the convention was over that she could either go back to the city staff, an effective demotion, or quit: she quit. When the award was announced at the Saturday night banquet, only the surving members of the A-S’s capitol bureau \(led by Jon Ford, a distinguished reporter and old capitol hand whom the A-S had had sense enough to snap up when The San Antonio Express plaque. That left out all the members of the A-S’s city staff, who had helped out 7n the course of searching for evidence, management found a parody of an A-S story by one reporter. She was fired.’
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