Awhile back, I noted a story which told the tale of Things Gone Wrong at the Dallas Morning News. The American Journalism Review has a followup on the subject now (via Kimberly). All I can say to that is Yeesh.
Much more interesting from a political intrigue perspective is this long sidebar which asks the question "Did the Morning News soften its pro-environment stance after a visit from a powerful congressman?"
Regrettable as the layoffs were at the Dallas Morning News, there might have been a silver lining for at least one very important person: Joe Barton.
Barton, a Republican congressman, represents Ellis County, just south of Dallas, where cement plants and other industries contribute mightily to the area's smog problem. But besides contributing to the smog, the companies that own these plants also contribute to Barton's political campaigns, and Barton fights doggedly to shield them from government clean air rules.
Before they were laid off in October, two of the News' editorial writers, Timothy O'Leary and Jim Frisinger, had given Barton a very hard time, accusing him of using sneaky legislative maneuvers, regulatory loopholes and plain old political pressure to protect some of North Texas' worst polluters.
Local advocates for clean air drew comfort from these editorials. They felt that the paper was on their side in the fight against Barton.
But now, says Wendi Hammond, executive director of Blue Skies Alliance in Dallas, "There are a lot of people in the environmental community who are not happy with what's going on at the paper." They fear that political pressure may have played a role in the two writers' departures, says Hammond, and in what they perceive to be a toned-down editorial policy.