Monthly Archives: January 2011

OK. So It’s Not Exactly ‘Washington’s Farewell To His Troops’…

But this is how I bid adieu to the Dallas Morning News in September 2008. It was a hard time for journalism, and particularly for journalists. Shrinking circulation. Uncertainty about print vs. digital.  And the agonizing matter of  worry about layoffs and ‘involuntary departures’ and the long sequence of layoffs and ‘involuntary departures.’  Some days, you weren’t sure what would come first – deadline or the pink slip.

So. In September 2008, the Morning News decided it no longer needed a bureau covering South Texas and the border.  On September 12, after 27 years at the DMN, I walked out the door. I wasn’t alone. A bunch of excellent reporters, editors and photographers  left too, followed soon by forced layoffs of many, many more. Suddenly, I had no job. It’s a very weird feeling.

I felt it only fair to say goodbye. Here it is:

I  have no wish to minimize the emotions felt by my colleagues as we depart. Some of us are just leaving early. Sadly, many more will soon follow involuntarily. But sadness? Not really. Not for me.

I’ll miss the people most. The laughs, the goofiness, the shared sense that we were doing something meaningful in the world. Unfortunately, the latter has been badly  lately. I’m not so sure anymore what we’re doing as a profession. Comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable doesn’t seem to cut it .

For me, it was time to move on, to shake loose the easy chains of a steady job and regular paycheck and live a life uncertain again. (Though one could argue just what was so damn certain about the last two years.) I walk out the door today without a clue what I’ll be doing or what the future holds. To those I leave behind, I wish good luck in the maddeningly difficult work of filing informative, entertaining and factual stories every day. On deadline.

There are plenty of good people left at the DMN willing to fight the good fight. You have my respect and my love and all my best wishes. With the new construct of journalism we work under, you’ll need all the luck you can find.

As for me, to quote Eric Cartman, the philosopher of South Park, “Screw you guys, I’m going home.”

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What Next, DRT? Virtual Reality Battles With Davy Crockett?

I first visited the Alamo when I was 12. Somewhere in an overstuffed shoe box at my parent’s home near Fort Worth is a photo of me, looking appropriately sullen. since neither Walt Disney  nor Fess Parker were anywhere around. It was my first Alamo photo.

Later, when I moved to San Antonio and began working downtown, I have probably dozens of photos of me in front of the Alamo, with frequently stunned looking tourists milling around behind me. By scientific methodology, I estimate I’ve also been in the background of  8,322 tourist photos as I walked to lunch, to the post office or just walked downtown. It’s what you do. Walk by the Alamo, you’re going to be in someone’s souvenir album.

Now, technology and the Daughters of the Republic of  Texas, are changing that. According to a report in the San Antonio Express-News, tourists will be able to purchase – for $20 – a remembrance photo of their Alamo visit that will be unmarred by rain, cold or any evidence other human life was there. It’s done with green-screen technolog, the same method that lets actors on a sound stage appear to be exotic locales or lets Las Vegas hucksters sell videos of you flying along The Strip on a magic carpet ride.

I think the Daughters are missing the point. Part of the joy of an Alamo photo is remembering the day – the crowds jostling to get into the chapel. Fighting your way through to the display of old rifles and knives that have no connection to the Alamo battle. The throng of others is part of the mystery and your photo – that snapshot of you and Uncle Earl standing stiffly shoulder to shoulder in a sea of strangers is part of that mosaic of humanity that can’t get enough of the Alamo.

Green-screen projections? I guess you’ll be able to remember fondly standing in line in the back of the Alamo garden to get your genuine Alamo souvenir.

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It’s Going To Be A Long Two Years, Isn’t It?

 

Funny, I feel like weeping too.

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