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Old Reporters Never Die-They Become Consultants

By B.B. |

What do you do if for ail these years you’ve been a reporter making a living by making life miserable for bigwigs in politics and business, and now you’re out of a job? Open a Denton boutique?

In Dallas, the answer is simple: make a living by teaching those same bigwigs how to fend off your former colleagues.

In other words, become a consultant.

For example, remember David Margulies? He was the Channel 8 guy in the trademark trench coat who was always sticking his microphone into places where it wasn’t wanted. On screen, he came across as the last bastion of the Fourth Estate here to save us all from crime, corruption, food poisoning, and runaway amusement rides.

Now he has his own company. MultiVision. and he’s teaching bigwigs how to politely tell reporters where to stick it-or better still, how to get good press out of a bad situation.

But in this, he’s nothing new. and is merely chasing the tails of the big boys in this field. Ken Fairchild and Lisa LeMaster. both of whom worked at KRLD Radio, then got married and formed Fairchild/LeMaster Inc., which bills $600,000 a year. And. strangely enough. the worse the economy gets, the better the business is for Fair-child/LeMaster and their ilk. Because what they help execs learn is “crisis management.”

“Crisis” has many definitions-among them bankruptcy, foreclosure, bank failure, and red-inked corporate reports.

In our current economy, potentially disastrous “press opportunities” abound. Says Lisa LeMaster. “We deal with the strategy of answering questions. We talk about how to handle hostile questions in any kind of situation-whether dealing with the newspapers, the TV cameras, or a group of angry employees. We like to say that when you’re through with our training, you can handle any kind of hostile situation. We help an executive to get over his fear of dealing with the press. If there’s a chemical spill, we get the call to come help-and certainly if Mike Wallace comes to town, we’ll get the call.”

Other media dropouts are using their skills in similar ways. Merrie Spaeth was at “20/20” and then worked at the White House as special assistant to the president for media relations- but now she’s a VP at Fairchild/ LeMaster. Karen Parfitt Hughes, longtime ace political reporter at Channel 5. has hired on with the Republicans for better money than she ever earned before, and far fewer hours. All she has to do is write media releases, handle press queries, and help GOP candidates keep their feet out of their mouths. (On second thought, perhaps it’s not such a cushy job.)

Jane Boone, medical reporter, left Channel 5 to land a job as a vice president of a PR firm specializing in-what else? Medical PR.

The permutations are seemingly endless. Elizabeth Franklin left her job as Today editor of The Dallas Morning News, not to sell her own writing and graphics talent, but those of other news people, current and former. Her creative services company. CreAgency. matches teams of writers, artists, and photographers on a per-project basis to firms needing brochures, prospecti. etc. It all proves that those who can. do; those who get tired of doing. consult.