by gabrielle cosgriff
We get there first and stay all day,"
claims the Houston Post. Well,
not any more. As of September
4, the Houston Chronicle has a morning
edition, complete with bright yellow
banner and assorted hoopla.
The Post's reaction to this encroachment on its early-morning turf, even
before it happened, was to come out with
a "Final Edition," starting August 23,
which hits the newsstands later in the
The Chronicle is opening seven bureaus in surrounding areas, such as Huntsville and Brenham, and is hiring several
new reporters. Even Ed McMahon, TV's
huckster supreme, is in on the act. Extolling the Chronicle's new features and expanded coverage, McMahon's TV ads
promise "everything you'd ever want in a
The fact that both dailies now have
morning editions may lead to some confusion. Unfortunately, time of delivery
has sometimes been a useful guide in
telling one from the other, since content
and style are often interchangeable.
Take, for example, their strikingly similar coverage of the recent difference of
opinion between City Controller Kathy
Whitmire and Houston Mayor Jim
McConn. Whitmire questioned the expenditure of funds for hiring consultants
to help the city draw single-member district boundaries. McConn threatened to
take her to court if.she didn't approve the
peaceably, McConn said, she'll have to
face the city's guns in court."
In that same Post story, McConn, his
feathers obviously ruffled, said, "The
mother hen sits on most contracts. But
the mother hen will be blasted out of the
coop if she doesn't turn it loose . . . We'll
take her to court."
The sexual put-down of "mother hen"
and the violence of "blasted out of the
coop" are further illustrations, (as if we
needed any) that the macho, frontier
mentality is alive and well in Houston.
The Texas Observer has been
without an official editor since
Jim Hightower resigned in July
to run for the Texas Railroad Commission. Managing editor Linda Rocawich is
acting editor until the position is filled.
September 1 was the deadline for applications, and Rocawich did not apply for the
Rocawich has been at the Observer for
two years and has been managing editor
since February. Before that, the Observer
had no managing editor for six months,
while Rocawich, who was then associate
editor, and fellow associate editor Eric
Hartman, shared the responsibilities of
"We were trying to do things differently," said Rocawich. "Neither one of us
wanted to create hierarchies. Neither of
The mother hen sits on most contracts. But the
mother hen will be blasted out of the coop if she
doesn't turn it loose.. .We'll take her (City Comptroller Kathy Whitmire) to court.
—Mayor Jim McConn
The Post's Tom Kennedy began his
story, "In the fashion of a classic western
standoff, Mayor Jim McConn . . . gave . . .
Whitmire until high noon Thursday ... If
Whitmire fails to act . . . he will aim the
city's legal guns at her and take her to
. . . court for a showdown."
Not to be outdone, or outdrawn, Fred
Harper of the Chronicle said, "An old-
time western showdown is shaping up at
high noon Thursday between . . . McConn
and . . . Whitmire, both sticking to their
guns . . . Unless Whitmire goes along
us wanted all the administrative responsibilities—we thought we could divide it up.
But it worked out that we did need somebody who was responsible for managing."
So Rocawich is now officially the
managing editor. She is also the de facto
editor, with all the authority of the editor,
"for however long it takes."
With or without titles, the staff of the
Observer, that "journal of free voices,"
continues to bring us the best in Texas
Speaking of titles, it's time for an
update on how the world turns
at Houston City Magazine.
Out, fired by owner Francois de Menil
on August 2, are publisher Gary Easterly,
editor David Crossley, design director
Peggy McDaniel, and advertising director
In, as of that date, are publisher Francois de Menil and editor Nathan Fain.
Out, then in, is managing editor Linda
Sylvan, who handed in her resignation a
week after the firings, then withdrew it.
Out, then in, then out again, is Laura
Furman, who quit to protest the killing
of a nuclear story in June, then came
back as a consultant, then was fired by
the thick of another magazine project."
He will be part-owner and publisher of
Texas Sports magazine, due to hit the
newsstands in September 1980. A monthly, the magazine will be "very unusual,"
promises Easterly, "no scores, no how to
string a racquet or swing a golf club-it
will celebrate the sports fanatic in all of
us, the good and the bad."
Ex-editor Crossley, who replaced
ex-ex-editor Tom Curtis last March, has
several irons in the fire. Among other projects, he is working on some ideas to do
with the space program.
Laura Furman has been in New York
recently, putting the finishing touches on
her book of short stories, The Glass
House, which will be published by
One night a British intelligence officer told me
that the Ayatollah Khomeini is an imposter. He
said the real Khomeini had three fingers missing
from his left hand and that everybody in British
intelligence knows that.
De Menil, you may remember, caused
a lot of fallout among the staff when he
killed a story that was critical of the
South Texas Nuclear Project (Media Matters, May, June, 1979.) Incidentally,
Crossley shared the byline on that story
with Andrew Sansom, although he does
not believe that was the reason he was
Fain, who grew up in Nacogdoches,
considers himself the "New York influence" at City, says a staffer. He came
down from New York this summer,
where he had been a freelance writer, at
ex-editor Crossley's request. "I didn't realize I was hiring my own replacement."
says a bemused Crossley.
Fain is no stranger to Houston. For
several years he was the Houston Post's
film and theater critic, and he worked on
the old Houston Journalism Review. He
put in a stint in the early days at KPFT,
Houston's public radio station. Opting for
discretion over valor, says Fain, "I decided to quit the second time the transmitter was blown up."
As editor, Fain promises "more service
pieces" and says that City's "graphic excellence will be improved."
Ex-publisher Easterly is already "in
Viking next year. Two of her stories have
been bought by the New Yorker and will
be published within the next year.
As we go to press, we learn that Francois de Menil, president of de Menil Publications, Inc., owners of City, and now
publisher of City, will have a new title in
next month's staff box—editor-in-chief of
City. As ex-publisher Easterly notes: "It's
The Dallas Times Herald is getting
ready to open a Houston bureau
-finally. It's a move that has
been rumored in newspaper circles for at
least two years. State editor Jon Sender-
ling and managing editor Will Jarrett
came down to talk to some local talent
recently for what, at least initially, will be
a one-person operation. They have also
interviewed prospects from outside the
Besides the obvious logic of having
their own staffer in the state's largest city,
there is another reason for the Times
Herald's move. The evening daily was
bought in 1969 by the Times Mirror Co.,
daniel boone cycle
HOUSTON, TEXAS 77004