The rodeo's in town, and the annual local-media orgy of coverage has begun. Television reporters have once again chuckled their way through trail-ride pieces, breathless updates of ticket sales have been given, and enthusiastic descriptions have gone out over the air and in print about all the fun being had down by the Astrodome.
Make that the Reliant Astrodome, dammit. If you catch any reference to the location that somehow excludes the corporate name, it means someone has made a serious error.
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo sent out its standard letter to news organizations this year alerting them to sign up for press credentials. This year's letter, however, had a bit of steel to it.
"As a condition of granting news media credentials to your organization representatives," it read, "the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo requires any references to any of the Reliant Park facilities to be as follows: Reliant Astrodome, Reliant Hall (formerly Astrohall), Reliant Arena (formerly Astroarena), Reliant Stadium, Reliant Center (the new exhibition facility), Reliant Park (the complex)."
University of Houston Cougars Football vs. Louisville Cardinals College Football
TicketsThu., Nov. 17, 7:00pm
Rice University Owls Football vs. UTEP Miner Football
TicketsSat., Nov. 19, 11:00am
SWAC Football Championship
TicketsSat., Dec. 3, 3:00pm
TicketsSat., Jan. 7, 7:00pm
And that's not all: "We require your signature below," it continued, "so we are assured that your organization's personnel will be meeting these requirements. Non-compliance may result in the forfeiture of credentials issued to your organization."
Nothing like dictating coverage, fellas. We're surprised they didn't mandate that media outlets mention that plenty of good seats remain for the REO Speedwagon/Styx show.
Last year The Denver Post made waves when it announced it would not refer to the Broncos' new facility as Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium, but only use the sentimental favorite Mile High Stadium.
Surely "Astrodome" means as much to Houstonians as "Mile High" does to Denverites, right?
Alas, somehow we're guessing that whenever we see yet another report on some dedicated 4-H'er, or wherever there's a TV reporter sporting boots and a western shirt, we're going to have to get used to hearing or seeing the word "Reliant" a whole helluva lot.
A month ago, Fred Barnes, executive editor of the conservative magazine The Weekly Standard, exposed some apparent plagiarism by historian Stephen Ambrose. So we read with interest an article his magazine did February 11 on U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, the Houston Democrat.
The opening of the article detailed Jackson Lee's penchant for using staffers as chauffeurs. "Jackson Lee declined comment for this story," the Standard piece read, "but when the alternative weekly Houston Press raised similar issues in 1997, she said" yadda, yadda, yadda.
Fine. But the article then moved on to Jackson Lee's habitual diva-like behavior on airplanes, and most of the quotes were lifted directly from an entirely different Press article by Tim Fleck. No attribution was given; as far as readers knew, the only Press material was the chauffeur stuff.
Had the magazine that shouted "J'accuse!" been guilty of some lifting of its own?
Mistakes were made, Barnes says. "It turns out we gave insufficient attribution to the Houston Press in the piece," he said by e-mail. "An editor here removed a second reference to the Press, thinking it redundant."
An editor's note will explain as much in the next issue, he promised.
Anyone who watched the Super Bowl in Houston February 3 saw not only a great game but an onslaught of ads for a special report on KRIV following the game. "Men, add inches to your love life," the promo said, or words to that effect, as video showed a tape measure quite obviously displaying 12 inches. (Someone at Fox has been religiously reading their letters to the Penthouse Forum, it seems.)
Taking time out from yet again reveling in highlights of the fancy-pants Rams' defeat, we tuned in. (Not that we had to or anything, of course.) But what we saw was a tepid, brief item, done only with an anchor voice-over, that dealt with penile enlargement.
Hmm. Teasingly hinting at "12 inches," and then delivering something that didn't go anywhere near the depth promised. And didn't last very long, for that matter.
Men. Can't live with 'em
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