The night citizens of downtown were a little surprised to see our crew tramping up and down the darkened streets. But when we decided to center our fall fashion coverage on down-town after dark, we committed ourselves to it. The photography spread was shot over a period of 18 hours on two nights in restaurants, clubs, apartments, cafes, hotels, buses and phone booths in downtown Dallas. The crew included our art director, fashion editor, fashion photographer, lighting man, makeup artist, hairdresser, two accessories assistants, three armed guards (for the jewelry), an associate editor, and our three models – Carol, Susie, and Bill.

If we did anything we proved that downtown after dark can be fun. I won’t go into the occasional misadventures that accompanied our expedition. However, one suggestion: if you decide to explore the city after sunset, take Carol or Susie – and leave the other fifteen people at home!

There’s not a bit of doubt that many facets of the recent real estate explosion were very good for Dallas. They were so good, in fact, that the critical factor in ending the boom may have been one of the oldest rules of human experience: too much of a good thing, isn’t.

One hears a lot of stories on the street: so-and-so just punted another deal, such-and-such is being squeezed out of business, the SEC is investigating what’s-his-name’s firm, big investor Mr. X is preparing to sue big broker Mr. Y. You won’t find these stories in the press. The major reason is they can’t be substantiated.

As John Merwin found in his cover article, few people like to talk about how much they made (the IRS can read, too), and fewer people like to talk about how much they lost. If it’s tough today to get the straight story on Dallas’ wild affair with land speculation, imagine the difficulties a conscientious reporter would have encountered in the heyday of ’72 or ’73. When business looks good and has the prospect of looking better, nobody wants the press to start suggesting that beauty is only skin deep.

So we follow meekly behind, writing our obituaries and wrap-up articles that are too little and too late. Nobody expects anything more out of us, really, since the Dallas press has not shown a ravenous appetite for digging out stories which could have a potentially adverse affect on Dallas business. Quite the opposite: the Dallas press enjoys a very cozy relationship with the business community. That’s not bad in itself; it becomes bad when it leads the press to overlook or ignore matters which could have a significant (and negative) impact on this city.

The coziness is most apparent in the Sunday real estate sections of the Dallas News and the Times Herald. The News gives its space to developers and real estate firms for free – as a “public service.” The Herald grants its space on a ratio determined by the amount of advertising the firm or developer purchases. Now, if the News wants to give away its editorial space and the Herald wants to sell it, that’s the publisher’s prerogative. The effect is the same: the articles which appear in both newspapers are designed and laid out as regular newspaper features. Also, they are written in the same style as newspaper features, with the exception that they’re more complimentary than an editor would allow.

You may think, as the newspapers obviously do, that’s there’s little wrong with this situation, since a disclaimer in the sub-title of each section indicates that it is not a typical news section. But consider this: all the developer or syndicator has to do is to clip the article out, paste it in a sales presentation book, and show it to his prospective client, with the introductory words “… now here’s what the News says about our latest development.” As Merwin argues, “The promoter writes his own story, gets it reproduced in the newspaper, then uses the newspaper’s credibility and reputation to sell his project. In effect, he’s buying the newspaper’s most valuable asset for a pretty cheap price.”


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