Top Ten of 2001

No year can end without a summary of the top ten stories of the previous 12 months.

Helpfully taking up lots of space in the holiday-season news slump, these quick and easy pieces (almost no assembly required!) are skimmed over by readers checking the ads for post-Christmas bargains.

The Houston Chronicle dutifully did its bit as 2001 wound down, providing lists of the top ten world, national, state and local stories of the year.

But what about the top ten Chronicle stories? That job is left to us.

As always, there were many contenders: groundbreaking investigations like the one showing that the "hillbilly heroin" drug OxyContin had not yet made its way to Houston, even though some editor had seen several stories saying it was popular in West Virginia; the pit-bull tenacity with which the paper covered the unveiling of the Texans' new uniforms; its relentless efforts to expose Enron (as one heckuva company).

But as much as the Chron simply owned the Texans and Enron stories, there's one other story that it has utterly dominated. No other paper in the country can come close to Houston's Leading Information Source when it comes to covering Destiny's Child.

An on-line search for the year reveals 190 mentions of the group; many of those, of course, are album-sales listings, entertainment-calendar updates and the like. But toss those out, and you still have a lot -- a lot -- of Destiny's Child coverage.

Our top ten Chronicle stories, therefore, consist of a year with that bootylicious R&B trio. (These are only the hard-hitting stories; such puff pieces as the girls giving a large donation to their church, or meeting with one of the airmen who'd been detained in China, are omitted.) The list:

February 11 -- A 2,400-word story in the inaptly named Zest section tells us the group is, according to the headline, "Destined for Greatness." It also tells us much, much more.

February 21 -- The Chron's fashion editor breaks the news that L'Oréal has signed lead singer Beyoncé Knowles as a spokesperson "for an undisclosed amount." Digging deep, she finds a L'Oréal exec who leaks word that "Beyoncé is a wonderful addition to our L'Oréal family of spokespeople. She is intelligent, talented, beautiful and so inspirational to young women -- a perfect choice to embody the L'Oréal phrase 'Because I'm Worth It.' "

February 22 -- Grammy night. "Making some fashion noise at Los Angeles' Staples Center: Destiny's Child, sumptuous in Versace gowns," the Chron's TV editor writes. "No one could touch Houston's own in the glamour department."

May 1 -- Almost 1,200 words are devoted to the pending release of the new album Survivor and other upcoming projects. Beyoncé says one song on the new CD was too pop until "we put our stank on it."

June 24 -- It's fashion time again, as 2,800 words are needed to show how Beyoncé's mom, as the headline says, "Brings Creativity to Costumes and Glamour to Destiny's Child's Image." We learn this: "When it comes to the 'look' for young women, [Tina] Knowles believes it is fine to show off shoulders and legs: Classiness does not include displaying breasts or buttocks." (Maybe just a flash of ankle, though, for the chorus of "Bootylicious.")

July 19 -- Christmas album I: The group will release a Christmas album.

September 7 -- Dolls I: Hasbro is going to make Destiny's Child dolls.

October 18 -- Christmas album II: The Christmas album is coming out in two weeks. "We put the DC stank on it," member Kelly Rowland announces.

November 28 -- Dolls II: The gals are pictured as "they hold their likenesses" at a New York toy store to promote their new dolls.

December 9 -- Christmas album III: The Christmas album is reviewed. (It gets a "B.")

Amazingly, the dolls are not reviewed.

And December 30 as a top ten bonus -- The trio, fresh off an announcement that they will be separating "for 18 months," will appear on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve! No word on whether the appearance will involve the application of "stank."

Who says the Chronicle doesn't cover local music?

Paint It Black

Former KTRH-AM reporter Stephen Dean is now one of the "Investigators" at Channel 2. The ability to use visual aids in his new medium apparently has made him giddy.

New Year's Eve, he was doing an "Investigators" report on the earthshaking news that gangs like to spray graffiti on things. (Next up: An appliance called a "microwave" makes cooking a snap!)

To introduce his report, he stood in front of a graffiti'd wall, looking appropriately solemn about the desecration. And then he whipped out a spray-paint can and blasted the camera lens. (Which was covered by glass, of course.)

Thus armed with the knowledge of how those cans work, viewers could settle in for the rest of the lengthy report.


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