LLgLMailing Houston City Magazine the
* M J ultimate in yellow journalism is
\Jprobably a compliment," said Marvin
Zindler (KTRK TV, May 1,) "I have other
words for it."
Apparently, what raised the self-styled
consumer advocate's hackles was the
March issue, with his picture on the cover
(and a not very flattering story inside) and
the January and February issues.
He was somewhat mollified, however,
by the fact that Gary Easterly, the publisher, had fired editor Tom Curtis. "...
in defense of the magazine, it now has a
new editor. . .and City has taken on a new
Plus a new owner. The debt-plagued
magazine has been bought by F.D.M.
Publications, headed by Francois de
Menil, the son of Dominique and the late
John de Menil, Houston art patrons and
members of the Schlumberger oil family.
Houston City Magazine began as In
Houston in 1977. After it ran into financial difficulties it was sold and came
out in April 1978 with its present name.
Editor David Crossley took over when
the April issue of this year was in production. To Zindler's charges of "yellow
journalism" Crossley said, "Well, he had
some really harsh things to say about the
magazine and about (former editor) Tom
Curtis in particular. But he was standing
there in front of that cover picture, so I
presume it was sour grapes.
"He was also very upset about the
February cover (two attendants lounging
in the back of their ambulance, smoking,
while a child lies obviously injured outside). He said that was unrealistic and
would never happen—you might find
them ignoring a heart attack victim, but
never a hurt kid."
There is a certain perverse charm
about Marvin Zindler accusing anyone
else of yellow journalism. His film crew,
as soon as they arrived at City's offices,
started their cameras rolling on the Golden
Girl Modeling studios next door, then
panned across to City.
"Yellow journalism" is to some extent
subjective. What is lively and personal to
one may be sensational to another. But
City's May issue could be called "yellow"
only in the sense of "chicken."
After the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, editor Crossley contacted Andy
Sansom, director of the Texas Energy Extension at the University of Houston, and
Sansom quickly came up with a short
piece on irregularities at the South Texas
Nuclear Facility, a Houston Lighting and
Power project near Bay City. It was rushed
into the May issue. "We took other pages
out to get it in," said Crossley.
"At the owner's request" and over
Crossley's protests, the story was yanked
from the May issue and rescheduled for
June. Apparently de Menil had no problem
with running the story in June.
(Last week, H.L.&P. cancelled their
advertising contract with City, because of
the magazines' "editorial policies.")
H.L.&P. Advertising Manager Bill
Secrest objected to the March issue with
its "lesbians and houses of prostitution.
I don't think that kind of journalism adds
credibility to our advertising." He denied
any knowledge of the upcoming nuclear
In spite of de Menil's overruling him
on the nuclear story, Crossley is enthusiastic about City's new owner. "He's a
strong, creative personality, and he is willing to do whatever it takes to make
Houston City Magazine the best in the
Crossley's first project as editor was a
"fashion feature" that he worked on with
writer Joanne Harrison for the May issue.
This feature was Crossley's first effort
to "project an image of Gatsby-like
elegance" for the magazine, as opposed to
what he called its former "disturbed and
Harrison wrote a short feature (handsome man meets beautiful woman in ele
vator—let's go to lunch, etc.) accompanied
by a series of photographs. She looked
around Houston for clothes and accessories, asked merchants for permission to use
them, and in return, printed shopping information with the photographs.
When I asked Crossley" whether this
feature was not in fact an advertisement
for all the products mentioned, he disagreed. He said the merchants supplying
products had no control over where or
how their merchandise would be used.
However, when Harrison went to Nei-
man-Marcus to borrow a particular suit
that she wanted, the loan was made only
on condition that every item on that page
be from Neiman's. City complied.
The July issue will feature a long excerpt from Stanley Marcus' new book,
Quest for the Best, (that's the Marcus of
As of now, Neiman-Marcus does not
buy advertising in Houston City Magazine.
As of now, Nieman-Marcus doesn't need to.
Lynda Bird Robb has been appointed
to succeed Bella Abzug as chair of
the president's National Advisory
Commission on women. Robb said she
will not hesitate to criticize Carter if she
thinks it appropriate. She foresees no
problems in following Abzug. "We represent different constituencies," she said.
Robb was appointed to represent women.
What does she think Abzug represented—
have looked at the magazine stands,
I have seen the future and it is
Texas," proclaimed NBC Today
Show's critic, Gene Shalit (May 4).
Calling Texas Monthly "the granddad-
dy of Lone Star magazines" at six years
old, Shalit praised the proliferation of
Texas magazines, listing 13 of them in all.
Shalit named D magazine "one of the
slickest city magazines ... in the country'
and called Texas Woman "more fashion
than feminist." He bemoaned the fact
that Texas Architecture is not Architexas,
and all in all declared himself impressed
by the healthy state of Texas, magazine-
The Texas Observer, consumer advocate and conscience of Texas journalism
for well over twenty years, went unmen-
tioned. So did a three-year-old publication that is more feminist than fashion.
And . . . even in death, women can't
escape those hackneyed physical
attributions. Time magazine's obituary on Marvella Bayh described her as a
"vivacious blond" .... Last March
Carol Boudreaux resigned her job as press
aide for the Houston Metropolitan
Authority because her husband John
Boudreaux was told he could not keep
his job as city editor of the Houston Post
if she kept hers. "Conflict of interest,"
said Post managing editor Kuyk Logan.
His boss, Post owner Oveta Culp Hobby
"concurred in the decision." Carol
Boudreaux is now producing the evening
news at KPRC-TV which is also owned
by Hobby. "Several people have asked
whether this was a sop from Mrs.
Hobby," said Boudreaux, "but the initiative came from (KPRC-TV news director)
Ray Miller." The Post's Logan sees no
conflict of interest in this situation,
since the Hobby-owned Post and the
Hobby-owned tv station are "rival news
organizations.". . . Two reporters at KPFT
Houston's public radio station, have won
first prize in the radio category of the
1978 Robert F. Kennedy Award for
Outstanding Journalism. KPFT news
director Steven McVicker and reporter
Jeanne Jones were honored for their
hour-long documentary, "The Question
of Accountability: A Look at the Houston Police Department." The RFK
Awards were established in 1968 as a
memorial to the late senator by reporters
who covered his final campaign ....
Gabrielle Cosgriff is an editor of Houston
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