A True Spirit of Giving

It's nice that the Chronicle -- Houston's self-confessed leading information source among all the daily newspapers in Houston -- is willing to lend a helping hand to those who are less well-off.

Take the case of Today's Satellite, Inc., one of those many companies springing up as an alternative to cable-television providers. With its advertising budget apparently tapped by a ubiquitous presence on local sports radio shows, Today's Satellite faced an uphill battle in its fight to get the attention of consumers.

Enter Chronicle columnist Ken Hoffman. In a spirit of giving that warmed the cockles of any heart whose cockles were left unwarmed by the paper's annual Goodfellows Christmas appeal, Hoffman unstintingly devoted an entire column February 9 to extolling the virtues of Today's Satellite.

Bringing up yet again Warner Cable's decision to drop The Food Channel -- a subject as gripping, to Hoffman, as the professional wrestling shows or TV anchorwomen he usually obsesses about -- the Houston-section columnist gave the no-doubt-grateful satellite company the equivalent of a free quarter-page ad.

"You get 100 channels.... Satellite reception is clearer and sounds better than cable. I originally planned to keep cable while I tried out satellite ... [but] two weeks into satellite, I ditched cable for the dish," he enthused, between rapturous descriptions of the channels Houstonians can only get by dish, such as the Game Show Network and ESPN's Classic Sports Network.

Lest any naysayers feel compelled to raise questions about journalistic ethics, Hoffman took on the issue squarely. Yes, he got all this wonderful equipment for free and is paying only $49 a month for programming. But hey, Houston, he wrote -- everybody can take advantage of the same great offer!!!

We'll never know what little pang of conscience kept him from ending the column with a hearty "Just tell 'em Ken Hoffman sent you by!!!!" For such small victories, we guess, we should be grateful.

Just in case the public begins to mistake local television news anchors for journalists, KPRC's Dominique Sachse has performed a valuable public service by reminding us all that they are celebrities, not reporters.

In the February edition of something called Texas Woman (this month's cover story: "Texas Girls with Curls"), Sachse is pictured in a slinky, off-the-shoulder leopard-print dress (attention Barnes & Noble: reserve Ken Hoffman's copy now), ruminating thoughtfully on what the most perfect-est, best-est ever Valentine's Day gift would be.

Below the Dallas model who wanted "a big box of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups" and just to the right of the other Dallas model, the one who wanted only "a single rose," Sachse took time off from her investigative work to opine that she just loves a good surprise.

"Whatever my boyfriend chooses to give, I want to feel he spent a long time thinking about it and how he thought about presenting it," she said. "Any gift should reflect both the giver and the receiver."

Thanks for sharing, Dominique.

Longtime Chronicle readers might have been forgiven a double take January 30 when they saw the front-page article claiming that United States Representative Tom DeLay, the Clinton-hating, self-appointed moralist who led the House's impeachment fight, might have a few problems of his own when it comes to giving testimony under oath.

The article -- by three reporters, no less -- outlined answers DeLay had given under oath in a lawsuit filed against a pest-control company he once headed, and how those answers were seemingly contradicted by the congressman's tax returns.

It was a bold, timely article against a powerful local figure, not something for which the Chronicle is necessarily known. Any reader who made it down to the story's 32nd and final paragraph, however, would have held out on the kudos -- in that deeply buried graf came the news (ever so grudgingly) that DeLay's "differing stories ... are the subject of an article in the New Republic magazine."

We can only assume that a lack of space prevented a 33rd paragraph, one that would have added a fact both the New Republic and The New York Times saw fit to mention: that the controversy was first reported in the Houston Press three years ago.

We don't look for the Chronicle to correct the above story, but we did enjoy the correction the paper printed February 11, reprinted here verbatim: "A story in Wednesday's Chronicle mistakenly implied that U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, had threatened 'parliamentary gridlock' to block a Democratic-backed resolution rebuking President Clinton for his behavior in the Monica Lewinsky affair. While Gramm has said he would block any effort to bring the resolution up for a vote, he did not say he would cause parliamentary gridlock."

We look forward to the follow-up correction, where the Chronicle informs its readers that "a correction in Thursday's Chronicle mistakenly referred to Phil Gramm as a senator. While Gramm is indeed a senator, he is more accurately described as a statesman and a visionary who thinks only of the country's best interests at all times."

Care to share your pain? Call Richard Connelly at (713)280-2479, or e-mail him at rich_connelly@houstonpress.com, or write him at the Houston Press, 1621 Milam, Suite 100, Houston,

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