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Houston Breakthrough 1980-07 - 1980-08
Page 9
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Houston Breakthrough 1980-07 - 1980-08 - Page 9. July 1980 - August 1980. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. October 21, 2014. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/286/show/266.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(July 1980 - August 1980). Houston Breakthrough 1980-07 - 1980-08 - Page 9. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/286/show/266

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough 1980-07 - 1980-08 - Page 9, July 1980 - August 1980, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed October 21, 2014, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/286/show/266.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough 1980-07 - 1980-08
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date July 1980 - August 1980
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Physical Description 33 page periodical
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
Original Item Location http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see the UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the “About” page of this website.
File name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Page 9
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see the UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the “About” page of this website.
File name femin_201109_562ai.jpg
Transcript Infrared photographs showed that contaminants from the pits were seeping into Galveston Bay. If these poisons entered the seafood chain, they would cause "very serious health effects," a Water Resources Department investigator told Hochberg. The In Between piece accused Stewart of covering up the dangers. "Not until five month's later," wrote Hochberg, "when state EPA and other officials called the pits 'a desperate situation' and the 'worst in Texas' during a January 1980 on-site inspection, did either paper report again on the waste site. And neither article mentioned the former residents of the trailer camp or the continuing danger of seafood cantam- ination. Digging below the official level isn't popular in boomtown Houston." Stewart told Breakthrough that he had had one telephone conversation with Hochberg. "When I read the In Between story, I was shocked," he said. "There were several inaccuracies, and many things I said were taken out of context." In fact, Stewart had considered bringing legal action against Hochberg. "But I couldn't find him," he said. "Nobody could. Apparently he dropped the story on the editor's desk and disappeared." (Hochberg presumably had left foi California. He is now a graduate student at Stanford University's School of Journalism.) Did Stewart tell Hochberg that the trailer park residents were not informed of the possible dangers because he didn't want them to panic? "Yes, I did," he told Breakthrough. "I think my mistake was in being totally honest with Hochberg, as I am with anybody who asks for information. I explained to him that there is no national standard for vinyl chloride. When we went down there and measured, we found one reading of 30 parts per billion (ppb), some readings of zero and some in between. Not counting zero readings, we came up with an average of seven or eight ppb." Hochberg's In Between story mentioned only the one reading of 30 ppb, not the averages. "And that one could have been an error," said Stewart. "Because measurement of such low concentrations is subject to error, a considerable number of samples was taken. That one was probably twice as high as any other number we found. That's why we took so many readings. "And remember,"said Stewart, "that's parts per billion. It's only recently we've been able to measure in parts per billion. Most things are still expressed in parts per million." Stewart said his board considered informing the residents of the possible danger, but decided against it. "We talked at great length about knocking on doors and explaining our findings," Stewart told Breakthrough. "But what could we say? We've been measuring vinyl chloride in the air. 'Oh, what's that?' It's a carcinogen. 'How much did you find?' One reading showed 30 ppb. 'How harmful is that?' We don't know." Stewart said that the "very serious health effects" and the "desperate situation" in Hochberg's story referred to water contamination, which is outside his province. He did, nevertheless, pursue the matter with the Galveston County Health Director, Dr. Walter Kemmerer. Was there a problem with air? asked Stewart. The director replied that he could not visualize the TACB readings as posing a health hazard. "Everybody, every day, is exposed to more carcinogens than that." "The fact is, we just don't know," said Stewart. "Everybody wants to err on the side of safety. We have consulted every expert we can find, and nobody can give us a safe number. Nobody knows, and I didn't want to panic people without being able to give them some concrete information." Harold Scarlett also tried to contact Hochberg after he read the In Between story, with no success. "He just flat disappeared," Scarlett told Breakthrough. He felt the CJR story was "full of inaccuracies and distortions. I agreed with hardly anything in it." Breakthrough found no evidence of a cover-up of the vinyl chloride situation by the TACB. The records are public, as Hochberg noted, and stories had already been published in Houston and Galveston County about the situation. Whether Stewart should have informed the trailer park residents of a possible danger is open to question. Stewart gave Hochberg his reasons for not doing so. Hochberg saw fit not to include them in his story. The most sensational passages in the story, apart from the alleged cover-up, were the "striking" infrared photographs "showing contaminants seeping into Galveston Bay," the "desperate situation" at the pits, called the "worst in Texas" and the "serious health effects" of the contaminants. All of these references were to the quality of the water, not the air, and are the responsibility of the Texas Department of Water Resources—an agency mentioned only once in the story, as being the office where Hochberg came across the TACB file on the waste site. Hochberg failed to make that distinction clear. Both Stewart and Scarlett are professionals, experts in their respective fields. Obviously, they are fallible, and should be taken to task when necessary. ("Scarlett has stung me at times," admitted Stewart, "but he's been honest and truthful.") It's disheartening that the Columbia Journalism Review, with it's long history of integrity and accuracy, should be a party to such irresponsible journalism. It is also ironic that Hochberg's piece, ostensibly an expose of shoddy reporting and questionable ethics, turned out to be just that—shoddy and questionable. As Scarlett told Breakthrough: "The Review gave this man full license to destroy professional reputations—reputations that were built on years of hard work and integrity. That's a shame." Tne test of the professional is how hard he tries and how well he succeeds in keeping his own feelings out of a story," wrote Dan Rather in his autobiography The Camera Never Blinks (1978). Apparently, the CBS newscaster has changed his mind since the mid-fifties, when he asked a Houston police officer to shoot him with heroin "so I could do a story about it." Interviewed in the July issue of Ladies Home Journal, Rather said: "In 1955 or '56 I had someone at the Houston police station shoot me with heroin so I could do a story about it. The experience was a special kind of hell. I came out understanding full well how one could be addicted to 'smack' and quickly." Rather had been asked by the interviewer if he had ever smoked marijuana. "I have not smoked pot in this country," he replied. "I obey the law." He added that "as a reporter—and I don't want to say that's the only context—I've tried everything. I can say to you with confidence, I know a fair amount about LSD. I've never been a social user of these things, but my curiosity has carried me into a lot of interesting areas." Rather was working at KTRH Radio in Houston at the time of the heroin incident. When the heroin story broke, all III! a great business y for women Sf fame factory It's one of the few businesses you can own and open your doors with an initial cash requirement of less than $20,000* ... which includes equipment, inventory, training, operating assistance, and beginning operating capital. Balance is financiable. rfQllHJ fOClOitJI is the largest and most successful do-it-yourself picture framing organization in the United States. NOT ONE OF OUR SHOPS HAS EVER FAILED! 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