Letters

DOA
Tim Fleck continues to do a disservice to those of us practicing responsible journalism in Houston. Now that I've been on the receiving end of his careless, damn-the-consequences reporting, I've developed a keener appreciation of why so many localbusinessmen and businesswomen distrust the media and shy away from dealings with the press.

Fleck writes in his Insider feature ["Round-the-Clock Media Death Watch," February 13] that "DBA, the mostly puffery-stuffed business monthly," won't be "seen again after the upcoming March issue."

Here's the rest of the story: On January 24, Ann Rogers Orkand (my wife) and I announced to our staffers that we were suspending publication of DBA Houston magazine. (Sorry Tim, it hasn't been called DBA since October 1994). That same day, Pierpont Communications, a major local PR firm, distributed a press release announcing the closing and stating the reasons why.

Fleck phoned me on or about February 11. "I have a report that DBA has published its last issue," he told me. "Is this right?" Surprised that he wasn't aware of our January 24 announcement, which was reported by the Houston Business Journal, Channel 13 and others, I told him that we would proceed to publish our March issue, winding up on a high note, and would then put the magazine to pasture. I asked Fleck for his fax number and then faxed the January 24 release to him.

DBA Houston may once have been "puffery-stuffed," as Fleck terms it, but he's three years out of date. Ann and I transformed the magazine, reborn as DBA Houston, into the most reputable, most credible business publication in town. Our final issue, to be distributed with a full press run the final week of February, contains a number of plaudits from local business leaders.

DBA Houston has no financial indebtedness of any kind, paid its staffers and writers in full, including severance for those here for six months or more, and assisted our departing employees in their job searches. Ann and I rejected offers from would-be purchasers of the magazine because we felt they might compromise the editorial standards we'd set for DBA Houston.

And we regret that pseudo-journalists such as Tim Fleck and some of the local TV muckrakers continue to prowl Houston's alleys. Even when the facts were set forth under his nose, he didn't recognize the reality of things. And that bodes poorly for the future of journalism in Houston.

Bob Orkand
Publisher, DBA Houston

Editor's reply: Let's see, all Fleck reported was that your magazine "wouldn't be seen again after the upcoming March issue." You say that your magazine won't be seen after the March issue. Yes, it appears that Fleck was once again engaging in careless, damn-the-consequences reporting, when he could have been out winning plaudits from local business leaders. (As for the "puffery-stuffed" description, it was all too kind.)

Rag On
Slow news week? It must have been if you printed The Insider of February 6.
I had to laugh when I read Tim Fleck's comments concerning la Vita magazine ["Too, Too Much"]. I can't help but wonder how Mr. Fleck can possibly call another publication a "rag," considering the non-newsworthy tripe for which he is famous. Melissa Stevens's explanation for the demise of la Vita was perfectly acceptable to me, but it appears Mr. Fleck thought otherwise. A falling out between Tony Vallone and Ms. Stevens seems highly unlikely, considering I saw them chatting amicably over lunch at Anthony's this week. Also, the mere mention of Maxine Mesinger, Houston's grande dame of gossip, struck me as especially ironic, because that is a title Mr. Fleck obviously covets.

Let's try harder to print some real news for The Insider and not look for controversy where there is none.

Luke Giles
Houston

That's Not "Buying Influence," That's Being "Civic-Minded"
The Houston Chronicle redefined the word "hypocrisy" to the highest level in its editorial of Saturday, February 1, headlined "Cash and Carry -- at least admit that big money influences public policy." The editorial criticized Democrats, Republicans, unions and corporate America for using financial contributions to buy access to politicians and shape public policy. So what does the Chronicle call the $128,000 it contributed to the campaign for the downtown stadium [The Insider, "You Should Get Such a Deal," January 23] and the yet undisclosed amount they contributed to defeat Proposition A?

The citizens of Houston should demand that the Chronicle at least have enough respect for the truth to end the pitiful hypocritical charade that campaign gifts do not advance the devices of the press.

David B. Wilson
Houston

That Great Fraternity...
I totally disagree with writer Robert Wilonsky's opinion that Spencer Williams's career was tainted by his work on the Amos 'n' Andy show [Film, "The Man Behind Andy," February 6]. The show was well written and performed and was free of vulgarity. It was very funny, and the incredible "Christmas show" should be shown every year during the season. It's just a shame that it was on the air during a very trying time, racially, for our country.

Now, when many blacks are seen daily in the movies and on TV playing the stereotypical roles of drug-crazed murderers -- with no complaint from the NAACP -- Mr. Williams's work should be praised, and reruns of that great show should once again be available.

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