Man Bites Dog

Categories: Media
Ed Bark says of Belo bossman Robert Decherd: "Many veteran employees at the newspaper have never even seen him. He's not known as much of a 'people person.'" Uh, Ed, we're still not sure he's a real person.

Turns out, his bite is worse than his Bark. That's Ed Bark, by the way, officially the former television critic for The Dallas Morning News--and currently the big ol' pain in the ass for Dallas' Only Daily. Now that he's gone from the paper for which he's written about TV since 1980--when Tom Hanks was a Bosom Buddie, John Ritter was living with Chrissy and Janet and the Jeffersons were still movin' on up--Bark has moved his show to the blogosphere, where he's running his own Web site called, of course, Uncle Barky.

There, along with CD-buying suggestions from Ed's son Sam ("Li'l Barky," poor guy), you will find his thoughts about the latest fall TV offerings (he loves Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which debuts Monday night and is available to watch right here right now when you get bored of this) and features about local TV news folk, beginning with KDFW-Channel 4 news director Maria Barrs. The latter dates back to January of this year, when Bark got the OK to work on a prototype for a regular feature called "Tele-types: Eyecatchers in Local TV News." Only, as Bark lays out in his "Why I'm Here" introduction to the site, he was never allowed to move forward with the piece; it languished for months on the desk of Dallas Morning News publisher Jim Moroney, in whom Bark and much of the paper's staff had great faith till he broke their heart.

"It was a new day, after all, and the newly appointed Moroney had the enthusiasm of a bear cub in a honey factory," Bark writes. "He's instead turned out to be The Music Man in the minds of many of us who took the Belo buyout while at the same time feeling sold out."

Bark also lays out in damning detail precisely why he was forced to stop covering local television news in February 2000 and why he chose to take the buyout rather than sell out. It's the most pugnacious thing Bark's ever written--angry but not mean, insurrectionary but not traitorous. It fits the man I've known and respected for years--a kick in the class. Rather than going after editor Bob Mong and managing editor George Rodrigue--the former an old colleague of Bark's from way back, the latter a company man who defended Bark while at the same time threatening him for sending an angry missive to D's Adam McGill several weeks ago--he saves his punches for the phantom menace, Belo CEO Robert Decherd, who gutted the paper without bloodying his soft hands. Writes Bark:


"I took the buyout. And no, I don't have the check yet. None of us will until at least Sept. 29. Some people have told me I'm risking everything, and should say nothing until the check clears. But free speech and truth-telling are non-negotiable. And everything in me says that this is the right and honorable thing to do. Right here, right now.

That said, I'm no martyr. And I bear no animosity toward any of the journalists who have remained at the DMN. Many of them are as determined to remake the newspaper into something special as I am to drive a truck through the void created by the demise of homegrown TV coverage and criticism in a big-time TV market.

That's what this brand new Web site is all about... I feel I've got one more battle cry left in me. Maybe I'm not 'dynamic' enough for the new DMN. Those of us who parted ways basically are being portrayed that way in the well-practiced rhetoric of upper management.

In the end, though, I figure it comes down to this. Robert W. Decherd and James M. Moroney III were born to lives of wealth, privilege and entitlement.

I'm the son of working class parents from Racine, WI, both of whom are deceased and neither of whom finished high school.

Dammit, I kind of like my chances."

Note to Ed: If the paper stiffs you out of yer severence check, I got $24.59 that's all yours, and I have it on good authority McGill will kick in the difference. --Robert Wilonsky


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