Sunday, April 10, 2005

Dolcefino scores! Shames Chron into forsaking rodeo freebies

KTRK-TV reporter Wayne Dolcefino's two-week absence from work kinda has a happy ending.

Dolcefino was ticked his employer, Channel 13, canned his planned expose' of the lavish spending habits of the non-profit Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, so he stayed home to protest.

The Houston Chronicle got enough letters from readers wondering what was going on that it was shamed into concluding it better find out what Wayne found out. It even put one of its top reporters on the story, Dan Feldstein.

It turns out the rodeo spends a preposterous amount of money to furnish its offices and provide free booze to its friends and volunteers. And, oh, by the way, they give free tickets and free drink coupons to media organizations that provide the interminable, over-the-top coverage of the world's largest rodeo.

(The Chron was quick to point out that only two of its employees made use of the free drink coupons while a shocking seventeen Channel 13 employees used them, which the newspaper evidently felt gave it the moral high ground.)

In addition, the media freebies gave Chronicle Editor Jeff Cohen an opening to flex his ethical muscles and declare the city's only newspaper won't be accepting any more free tickets ("outside our sponsorship agreements"), which should further endear him to rank and file employees who will feel better about themselves now that they've been ethically cleansed from on high.

It is unclear when Cohen discovered the newspaper was accepting rodeo freebies, but if it took putting one of his top newshounds on the Dolcefino story to learn of this tradition, that's not a good sign since he's been captain of the Chronicle ship the past three years.

But maybe some of those "sponsorship agreements" tickets Cohen mentioned can find their way to deserving Chron employees, or executives, whatever.

All in all, we'll give credit where credit's due -- to Dolcefino -- for raising enough of a stink regarding his employer's behavior that the Chronicle swallowed hard and grudgingly took a rare look at one of Houston's most sacred bovines.

Wayne Dolcefino, TV newsman


Anonymous said...

While Dolcefino has made of careert of pissing off people in power, he has now succeeded in pissing off his fellow bretheren. Now the free drinks and other perks that are the skimpy rewards of dedicating your life to journalism are in peril. I would worry if I were Wayne, he just might have to pay for a meal one day.

Dan Feldstein. said...

Actually, Banjo, nobody shamed or forced anything. When the Wayne vs. Rodeo tiff hit the paper, I thought a follow-up was a can't miss. My idea. Who wouldn't read a story about those two tangling? Beginning and end of issue. My e-mail inbox is full. Pure fun! How are the wife and kid? Regards, Feldstein

Kimberly said...

I could overlook the liquor and expensive conference table... But 17 percent going to charity? This is no longer a non-profit... it's a cash cow for those connected to it!