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Houston Breakthrough 1979-06
Page 6
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Houston Breakthrough 1979-06 - Page 6. June 1979. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. April 18, 2014. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/912/show/894.

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.

(June 1979). Houston Breakthrough 1979-06 - Page 6. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/912/show/894

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 1979-06 - Page 6, June 1979, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed April 18, 2014, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/912/show/894.

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 1979-06
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date June 1979
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Physical Description 24 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 6
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_551f.jpg
Transcript Media Matters by gabrielle cosgriff u I OS just can't take any more," said Laura Furman, resigning her job m* as senior editor of Houston City Magazine. "I thought about it hard over the Memorial Day weekend and decided that unless I was hurting people by resigning, I wanted nothing more than to do that." Furman resigned because City's new owner, Francois de Menil, FDM Publications, pulled a story on the South Texas Nuclear Project (STNP) from the magazine's June issue. De Menil had already enraged staffers by yanking the same story from the May issue (See Media Matters, May 1979), then had mollified them temporarily by saying the story needed more research and checks for libel. At a luncheon with the staff on May 16, de Menil said the story could be printed "whenever David wants to run it." Editor David Crossley, who had assigned the story originally, and who shared the byline on it with Andrew Sansom, immediately put it in the June issue. in the June issue." "This story exists by itself," said Crossley, "and is apart from my position as editor of the magazine. I wanted it to get out to the people of Houston." So why did de Menil kill the story? The reason he gave several reporters was that it needed more research and libel checks. According to Furman, senior editor Linda Sylvan and research editor John Wilburn "packaged the research and did a research memo—that is, they made it understandable to a lay person as they were taught to do at Readers' Digest— and zipped it off to Francois in New York." De Menil told KPRC-TV that he didn't want "a magazine that terrorizes people and makes them want to leave Houston." Texas Monthly's page on "State Secrets," (May, 1979) reported, "Francois de Menil thought the story might embarrass his friend and neighbor George Brown, founder of Brown & Root, which is building the nuclear plant." No source for that information was given. The same rationale was offered by search was needed." Then why did his staff include it in that issue and take it to the printer? "Well, I think there is a misunderstanding between them and me, and that's unfortunate," he said. In a telephone interview, de Menil declined to discuss "conditions of sale" several times, saying "I don't think that's anybody's business." Finally, he said, magazine. There will be a presence where there was none before, and that's just a fact of life." Laura Furman had spoken of the independence of the staff at City. "We started out independent and it seemed to us, and maybe this was naive, that our problems were financial. This is like getting married for security and then finding "In a city choking on its own boosterism, I was convinced that good hard stories and good service pieces would make our magazine one we could be proud of." —Furman "All of a sudden there was this containment, as Haldeman used to say in the White House." —Sansom That issue was at the printers, on the boards, when de Menil pulled it again. "That was it for me," said Furman. In her letter of resignation, she expressed her concern that killing the story "reflects an attitude toward the readers I cannot condone: that is, a magazine is only a business whose duty it is to make money . . . but any form of media also bears the responsibility to make known information that is important to the health and well-being of its public. . . "In a city that is choking on its own boosterism, I was convinced that the combination of good hard stories and good service pieces would make our magazine a success, and one we could be proud of. I still have hopes that this can come to pass, but I no longer feel the dedication and energy necessary to carry on as senior editor." That was also the last straw for Cross- ley and Sansom, £s far as their story was concerned. They withdrew it from City and made it available to Houston Breakthrough, Texas Observer, and Galveston County's In Between magazine. "When the story was pulled the first time, I was depressed," said Sansom, "but then when it happened a second time, I felt the situation shouldn't have happened. All of a sudden there was this containment, as Haldeman used to say in the White House. "I called Francois in New York and told him I would like to have this story published, and published in this market. He said 'give me a few more days.' We flew the research and libel materials up to him. The next thing I heard, it wasn't City staffers, but again, no one had any first-hand information. When I asked de Menil if that report were correct, he said, "No, not at all." Whatever reasons de Menil gave for pulling the story seem academic considering this one fact: It was agreed on May 1 that the story would not appear in City magazine, at least not in the May issue. In a letter of intent to buy the magazine, dated May 1, it was stated as a condition of sale that the magazine "delete the article on nuclear energy." The "Look, if someone has leaked something to you, that's unfortunate, but it doesn't mean I have to comment on it." Nor was he willing to comment on his plans for City magazine. "That would sort of take the wind out of whatever announcements we may make . . ." Not much was forthcoming, either, on his recent trip to Cuba with local U.S. Congressman (and former Menil Foundation board member) Mickey Leland. De Menil had provided the private jet to fly Leland and his party to Cuba on an unofficial visit. Leland was received as a Member of Congress and had a 30- minute discussion with Cuban leader Fidel Castro. De Menil took along a writer from Washington and a photographer from New York. When asked why he didn't take anyone connected with City magazine, de Menil replied, "A photographer is a photographer is a photographer . . .the reporter was approved by the editorial staff. There was no one on staff who was capable of writing that ..." I asked, "Was the journalist chosen by the editorial staff?" This story exists by itself and is apart from my position as editor, I wanted it to get out to the people of Houston." —Crossley letter was signed by publisher Gary Easterly and FDM Publications vice president Miles Glazer. I asked both de Menil and Easterly if indeed the story was ever intended to run in the June issue, or if 'delete' meant 'kill.' Easterly thought the letter was intended only to keep the story out of the May issue. He understood it could appear at a later date. Did he think the promise of running it in June could have been made to calm a restless staff? "That's possible," he said. De Menil said, "In my mind it was not going to be run in June because more re- "No, they did not come up with him," said de Menil. I then asked, "How do you see yourself as owner, making editorial decisions? You assigned this Cuba story and you killed the nuclear story. Does that mean you are in essence the editor's editor?" "I don't know what you're getting at here," he said. "Should I rephrase it?" I asked. "I don't think that's necessary, " he replied. "I'll put it one simple way. I'm not going to comment on my role. The editor has his job, everybody has their job. However, we own the magazine and intend to have our ideas included in the out that you're only allowed out of the house five minutes every day." De Menil made no bones about his active participation in the magazine. "If they (the editorial staff) want all of the liabilities, then they can put up all of the money, and then they can ... be independent. But as long as they're not sharing the liabilities they cannot expect to have a complete free rein. It's just normal business practice." "That's life," said Crossley. "He does own the magazine." In Between printed the story on Thursday, June 9. Breakthrough is running it in this issue (see box opposite page.) The day the story broke in Galveston, KPRC-TV began a series of reports on the nuclear story and the situation at City magazine. They were the only local news organization to pick up on the story. The Washington Post ran a story on it on June 10 and Newsweek has a story in their current issue. The Houston Post and the Houston Chronicle have not mentioned the story. The other Houston TV network affiliates have said nothing. KTRH Radio, when it finally covered the story the next Monday, quoted only the NRC spokesperson, who dismissed the allegations in the story as just problems in "record keeping." "They do not represent any real significance to the construction of the plant," he said. Harold Scarlett, Post environmental writer, said In Between publisher Joe Murphy had promised him a copy of the story the day it broke. None was forthcoming for several days. Scarlett commented about the story being on TV that night. "I'm a little teed off that he got it to a TV station and left us out in the cold," he said. "After reading the story, I frankly don't see what all the shouting was about. We have carried virtually all of this material already in the Houston Post." Would Scarlett have used the story if he hadn't been "scooped" by the TV station? "I would have been more favorably inclined to do something with it," he said. Had he written anything on the STNP in the last month? "No." HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH JUNE 1979