It was a big story for Channel 2: A twentysomething woman had been arrested after "luring" a 12-year-old boy over the Internet.
The woman drove from Michigan after corresponding with the boy in a chat room, the station reported March 28.
And because they reported it, they had to bring out their "Crimebuster" -- Don Clark, the former head of the FBI's Houston office.
Clark's tenure at that post was uninspiring; reporters mostly remember him for mind-numbingly dull, information-free press conferences. And they didn't get the impression he was hiding behind his dullness to keep the media at bay.
That didn't stop KPRC from hiring him a few years back, though, and they now regularly trot him out to display the incisive, sharp-edged style that got him the job in the first place.
Show him a tape -- from any place in the country that has TV-friendly video of alleged police brutality -- and he'll be shown looking at it and saying something like, "It looks bad, but unless you were there, it's hard to say."
The Crimebuster also performs such duties as examining whether security gates at apartment complexes are all they're cracked up to be. As KPRC's Web site summed up one such report: "Clark found some holes in the security web. For example, he was able to get into several complexes by simply following the car in front of him that had punched in the number."
Oh, that's just terrific, Channel 2 -- why don't you go ahead and tell every potential criminal this ingenious method of entry that has never occurred to anyone? Anyone who hasn't gone into an apartment complex, that is.
Clark has also been busy on the terrorism beat in the wake of September 11. He and his wife were shown going through the security procedures at Bush Intercontinental, and Clark then offered the following tips: Passengers should "carry only what they need, not carry sharp objects, and don't argue with inspectors."
A few months later, Clark was called in when an undercover Channel 2 producer was hired as an airport security screener with little in the way of a background check. A decent story, even without the Crimebuster's sage perspective.
"You're talking about a serious business here -- looking at the employee and his background information," Clark analyzed. "You can determine a lot right there. That should be part of the hiring practice."
When it comes to training, Clark said that screeners should be well trained. Especially "when you're talking about a multitude of things that could cause problems in flight or at the airport."
His contribution to the computer-stalking story? Parents should not give a shit what their kids are doing on the Internet.
No, in actuality Crimebuster Clark provided the stunning news that parents should take "necessary precautions" to make sure their children aren't being lured by adults on the Web.
Blinded Me with Un-science
Channel 2 viewers apparently deserve better, if a recent Web poll is any indication.
The station asked visitors to their Web site this question: "What is your favorite type of show on KPRC, Channel 2?"
When we checked, almost 7,400 people had responded. Sadly enough.
Did they say "sports," like the Olympics or the NBA? Nope. Didn't get a peep. "Talk shows" was one option, but only 6 percent made that choice. "NBC dramas" got 7 percent, and "NBC sitcoms" 26 percent.
The landslide winner: news. Forty percent said the news was their favorite thing on Channel 2. Take that, Friends and ER. You pale beside the wonder that is the Crimebuster and his sidekicks.
Somehow, the standard disclaimer on the poll did not read: "Results of the poll are unscientific. And by 'unscientific' we mean it would be laughed at by the Flat Earth Society."
Not in My Backyard
The beleaguered Houston Chronicle business section, apparently devoting all its resources to being beat on the Enron story, had reporters scratching their heads last month.
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For the first time ever, ExxonMobil opened the research center at its Houston office to analysts and reporters on March 5. Company chairman Lee Raymond was on hand to conduct the annual conference for analysts.
The New York Times sent a reporter down to cover the admittedly not-earthshaking event; also on hand were journalists from The Wall Street Journal and the Bloomberg and Dow Jones business wires.
No one from the Chronicle made the short trip down Milam. A company spokesman says they were invited.
It wasn't like the tour and meeting were completely not newsworthy. The Chronicle devoted 11 inches to them the next day, courtesy of "Houston Chronicle Wire Services."