Stop the Press Club–Please!

Mick Gregory

Dallas Press Club slashes expenses, gives up rental space. This, in a one newspaper town.

This is the state of the press in 2007.

I was once a member of the Dallas Press Club, in my twenties. That’s when Dallas had a newspaper war going on between Times Mirror’s Dallas Times Herald and the Belo Dallas Morning News. Molly Ivans would make an appearance at meetings as well as U.S. Senators and celebrities.

Today, it’s on par with a Salvation Army drop off store front.

The active members of the Press Club of Dallas are trying to save their disgraced group after the former president apparently falsified the results of the club’s signature awards program and mismanaged her club-issued credit card on luxury items.

Four vacant board seats were filled — some by spirit-of-the-moment volunteers — with hopeful members stepping up to keep the club running.

Tom Stewart, now the club president, said the future of the annual Katie Awards and the club itself remains uncertain. The group was given three choices: Let the club slowly die, disband it immediately or drastically reduce expenses to buy time until the annual meeting in August.

Of the $5,500 a month it takes to operate the club, they voted to eliminate at least $4,000 in monthly operating expenses, including its rental space at the Women’s Museum in Fair Park. The Press Club Foundation, which supports the club and benefits from the Katies program, terminated its $4,000-a-month stipend to the club in February.

In an April 14 interview with the Dallas Business Journal, former club president Lisa “Elizabeth” Albanese, 41, said she didn’t have records detailing the judges from past-years’ Katies because she failed to keep the records and switched computers. She then said she would be able to reconstruct a judges’ list.

She couldn’t be reached for comment by a Dallas Business Journal reporter.

Albanese won all four Katies for which she was nominated in 2006, including for best business news story, best business feature story, best specialty reporting and best investigative reporting for a major-market newspaper. She won 10 Katies over the last four years, and began coordinating the judging in 2003.

No former boss of Albanese’s has alleged that she plagiarized or fabricated sources for her stories.

The Katie Awards rank among the most coveted in Texas, drawing contestants from six states who hope to be honored as the best in journalism and mass communications.

Albanese spent seven years at The Bond Buyer, a New York-based municipal bond newspaper, and recently became a vice president at First Southwest Co., a financial advisory firm, which she often wrote about as a journalist. She was fired by Dallas-based First Southwest after criminal allegations from her past surfaced.

News bytes by Lauren D’Avolio

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One thought on “Stop the Press Club–Please!

  1. Shares of newspaper publishers were mixed Tuesday after two of the largest chains in the country, Gannett Co. and McClatchy Co., said revenue dropped in April. If Gannett can’t make money, then it’s over.

    McClatchy said its revenue declined 5.5 percent compared with April 2006, with ad revenue falling 7.6 percent. Gannett, which publishes USA Today, said Monday its revenue shrank by 2 percent. Ad revenue fell 3.1 percent as more classified ads ran on the Internet, with fewer being printed.

    ADVERTISEMENT

    McClatchy shares lost 39 cents to close at $28.49.

    Gannett shares slid 81 cents to $58.50.

    Goldman Sachs analyst Peter Appert cut his profit estimates for both companies for the rest of this year, and for 2008 and 2009. He said McAllen, Va.-based Gannett is well-run company, but it cannot overcome the problems of the newspaper business.

    “We believe even the most diligent cost management efforts cannot fully offset the impact of the severe revenue pressures currently being seen in the newspaper industry,” he said.

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