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Jean Carpenter: Texas State Fair loses a legendary face

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Jean CarpenterLate last month, Dallas/Fort Worth learned that Big Tex wasn’t the only legendary face on the state fairgrounds.

Her name was Jean Carpenter, and although she had her own practice in North Texas, she was known for representing the Texas State Fair annually for the past 30 years.

Thanks to this obituary/story from the Dallas Morning News, we learned she died of a brain tumor at the age of 80.

“Jean was just running every direction that morning making sure things came together the way they were supposed to,” Ms. [Nancy, of retired State Fair fame] Wiley said. “Pretty much everything did, except for the trained pig. We discovered pigs don’t like to get up before dark and perform. Jean was right out in the middle of it, herding the pigs in the direction they were supposed to go. She was tremendously versatile.”

The last memoir there describes what true flacks do. This is not a 9-to-5 gig. It’s round the clock, ofttimes thankless but erstwhile rewarding. And that’s what Carpenter made it.

I had the privilege of working with her once on behalf of another client. Although Big Tex towers over the fairgrounds, that woman clearly wore the huge pants around that place. She ran the joint and no one got through that gate without her consent.

Including yours truly… and I had approval, only the news didn’t make it to security that one fateful morning. Sigh.

Chutzpah and credibility, all in one bound Dallas package. She will certainly be missed.

To really appreciate a more personal approach, Rawlins Gilliand wrote an amazing celebratory piece that Big Bob Wilonsky posted in Unfair Park. Please visit, it’s worth the read.

Ms. Carpenter is survived by her companion, John Patrick Byrne of Dallas, and a sister, Jerry Stevenson of Lufkin, Texas. Memorials may be made to the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children or the State Fair of Texas Scholarship Fund.

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Written by theflak

July 27, 2009 at 10:00 am

Imagine paying rent at a homeless shelter

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Signs of the Times?

Signs of the Times?

Ever been to New York City? If you work in public relations, the answer is probably, “Yes.”

It’s the media mecca. It’s the holy ground of journalism. And it’s the… most friggin’ expensive place on earth!

My God, man. A brother can go broke there without ordering room service.

I mean, has anyone bothered checking out the home prices in that city?

$1.5 million for a 660 square-foot tin shanty, but hey, it’s got a view… if you look waaaaaaaaaay in the corner of that rear window in your bathroom, you can see a tree past those gutters. Sweet.

Well, the economy is evidently still putting the squeeze on real estate in the city that never sleeps.

According to this alarming story from Newsday, city officials have begun charging rent to families living in… wait for it… homeless shelters. Classy.

The spin:

The policy applies only to shelter residents who have income from jobs.

Sure. Never mind those jobs are typically dishwasher, asbestos cleaner, sewage drainer and pooper scoopers, but hey, it’s a gig. Right?

The catch:

They could be expected to pay up to half their earnings.

Because when you are living in a homeless shelter (oxymoron, eh?), you can easily afford that kind of scratch on three hots and a cot… for you and your family.

Pathetic. In a world where the economy is public enemy #1 and charity is sorely floundering amidst public panic, New York City shows up in a sterling fashion.

I understand every city has to get their cut, but to get “stimulated” on the backs of the disenfranchised, impoverished and destitute? Hrm.

The Big Apple looks like it has sour grapes to me. Poetic. And nutritious too.

Written by theflak

May 14, 2009 at 4:48 am

Stop the Bleeding

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ron-burgundyThere is a mantra in newsrooms across the country that often goes unsaid, but typically is unavoidable, “If it bleeds, it leads.”

There is a reason why those same nestling hubs of action are full of police scanners and not Disney movies – good news does not attract ratings. Because if it did, most news directors would be scouring the want ads.

Car wrecks, drug busts, City Hall squabbles and who’s doing well on American Idol. Now that’s entertainment… and depressing, which is one of the many reasons we see esteemed reporters racing to the PR side of the tracks.

However, from the “It’s about time” department is an article from PR Week showing a sudden new trend in the news – networks asking for “feel-good story pitches.”

You know Armageddon is upon us when assignment editors are pleading with the public to send them tips on Girl Scout bake sales, new puppies for adoption and anonymous donors paying some old lady’s bills.

Granted, these pitches will need to possess a tie to the depressing stuff, like the economy, but it’s a start for hemophiliac news networks, right?

Maybe the next overnight subject matter expert will hail from the corner office of the “Random Acts of Kindness” Foundation? Stranger things have happened.

BailOutBelo.com? I got dibs.

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Death... on crutches. That's about it for publishing these days.

Death... on crutches. That's about it for publishing these days.

Things are grim for publishers these days. Newspapers aren’t doing so well these days. Reporters are getting buyouts. Journalists are looking elsewhere for jobs. And subscriptions and advertisements blow. Bad.

As a matter of fact, media magnate and Dallas-based, A.H. Belo (parent of our Morning News and WFAA), just made $10 million in job cuts with no ceiling in sight.

It’s sad because some of those reporters “considering” career changes aren’t just colleagues, they are friends. Many of them leave without a fight because there is no one in the ring… except now, thanks to this story from PR Week.

In Minneapolis, spurned employees from the regaled Star Tribune are speaking out with the development of SaveTheStrib.com.

The paper recently filed Chapter 11, won’t make a dime this year and its circulation of 300,000 is probably bloated beyond I-just-ate-all-the-Thanksgiving-leftovers status.

As noted from the Web-based platform, “Help us build a compelling case for potential new ownership that Minnesotans believe, as we do, the Star Tribune is a vital part of our civic life.”

I applaud this effort and hope the Morning Newsers can do something similar, but one problem: There hasn’t been a viable post on the “Strib” in more than a week as of this post.

Kinda’ hard to be compelling when your writers aren’t compelled enough to roll over and turn on a laptop from bed on a daily basis. I’m just saying.