By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Local television stations have long hated to follow stories by KTRK's manic Wayne Dolcefino.
We can't especially blame them -- Wayne can be pretty braying at times -- but it's a little galling how they typically seem to do the follows without crediting the guy who broke the story.
They have now broken themselves of that nasty habit. They have been, in fact, absolutely enthusiastic about trumpeting Dolcefino's reporting.
Of course, if you believe the coverage from the other stations, Dolcefino and KTRK are causing poverty-stricken kids to go hungry.
Dolcefino hasn't reported anything yet -- he's merely been asking questions about Kid-Care Inc., the well-publicized charity run by Houstonian Carol Porter.
Dolcefino began looking into the charity's records in July, but his stories usually don't run until sweeps periods, the next of which won't come until November.
But Porter decided to take the offensive. She told reporters September 3 that she was shutting down Kid-Care because Dolcefino was scaring off donors with his questions. The organization, which has an annual budget of $1.1 million, was down to $30,000 in its general fund, Porter said.
That night, KTRK's competitors carried the news, showing video of Porter and Kid-Care workers handing out lunch bags to sad-eyed children whose only hope in life, apparently, was now being removed.
KTRK issued a statement saying the station "had an outstanding track record of journalism and service to the Houston community. We welcome any and all information from Kid Care that would contribute to the public's understanding of Kid Care's decision to cease operations."
But Dolcefino's report, whatever it might contain, still didn't air. As of the morning of September 6, he had not yet interviewed Porter. With typical modesty, Dolcefino says, "I would appreciate everyone waiting until I do my story."
That's not likely, and follow-up reports by the Houston Chronicle have shown that Kid-Care's Better Business Bureau membership has been suspended, that bookkeeping has been lax and that board members have quit because of disputes with the strong-willed Porter.
(The Chron credited KTRK in its first story; the next day it simply mentioned Kid-Care blaming its troubles on "inquiries by a television reporter.")
It seems likely that things will get worked out at Kid-Care -- through more stringent overview by the board of directors, for instance, as it keeps an eye on an organization that has grown haphazardly in 18 years from a shoestring operation to a large entity.
Eventually Dolcefino's report will air, probably being old news by that point.
Whether local stations continue with their policy of crediting him for his stories remains to be seen. We're guessing they will, if he once again causes childhood starvation.
Burying the Lead
It's easy to believe that sports fans missed the Houston Chronicle's latest scoop.
After all, sports fans are loutish, beer-drinking, porno-consuming Neanderthals, and the Chron's Houston section has lately looked like a low-rent version of Maxim or Details. There was the Houston Texans cheerleader story August 29, the one that featured "Jessica" lounging seductively on the grass, her head lying softly on the butt of "Jennifer." That story also had a shot of "Tammy" doing stomach crunches, from an angle that her gynecologist could appreciate.
The next day's article on "The Lost Art of Doing Nothing" featured an artist's rendition of a Tammy-like pose. A week or so later, an article on yoga had a woman bending over in such a way that a young man's thoughts no doubt turned to subjects other than yoga.
So it's not surprising that the Chron's sports scoop didn't get more of a reaction, given its readers' newfound allegiance to the lifestyles section.
But for those who missed it, the paper did its annual mammoth football preview August 29, and it included, as always, predictions from staffers on the coming season.
Specialists like columnist Fran Blinebury put all their years of accumulated expertise and untold amounts of research into the task. Sure, it would be easy to just pick out the same old tired names to predict the winners of the nation's college conferences, but such half-assedness would not be worthy of the proud Chronicle.
So we can only assume it was a buried scoop when Blinebury picked Brigham Young University to win the WAC. BYU used to dominate the Western Athletic Conference, of course, and picking them to win each year was a gimme.
Of course, BYU hasn't been part of the WAC since 1999. Until this year, apparently, when they sneaked back in, escaping the notice of everyone but the intrepid Blinebury.