Star-Telegram Lays Off Watchdog Columnist Dave Lieber

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Posted January 9, 2013 by Jeff Prince in Blotch
DAVE LIEBER SHOWN IN HIS FACEBOOK PROFILE PHOTODAVE LIEBER SHOWN IN HIS FACEBOOK PROFILE PHOTO

Another round of layoffs at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram included this surprising pink slip — consumer watchdog columnist Dave Lieber is leaving the daily after 20 years.

Lieber accepted the layoff with grace and his typical optimistic outlook.

“I thank the paper for giving me 20 of the most exciting years a guy could ever have in Texas,” he said. “The Star-Telegram prepared me for the rest of my life – to help people.”

Lieber will continue writing consumer columns at his Watchdog Nation web site, and he can also be found at his Facebook page.

The layoff makes little sense — Lieber was an enthusiastic and absolutely tireless promoter of himself, his column, and the newspaper. Lieber’s prominent face and voice was on a level with fellow columnists Bud Kennedy and Bob Ray Sanders.

And Lieber did a lot of good for the community, looking out for underdogs, the voiceless, the aged, the conned, and the screwed over.

“He was an invaluable asset, you would think, given the fact that the kind of advocacy journalism and community interaction he supplied were among the few points of difference that the Star-Telegram — or any local daily for that matter — can still offer to keep themselves relevant,” said a former Star-Telegram writer who was previously laid off. “It’s as if management is trying to steer the paper to a premature death.”

Losing Lieber was another blow to an already staggered newsroom that’s seen its numbers reduced dramatically in recent years. Several hundred employees in various departments have been fired, laid off, or bought out, but few with Lieber’s high profile.

“He differentiated the paper and is exactly the sort of thing a paper needs to make itself relevant as a local news leader,” said a current employee who requested anonymity. “Everyone is scratching their heads.”

A former Star-Telegram reporter lamented the painful slide by a newspaper that was once considered among the state’s best at covering local news, but now relies heavily on wire copy to make up for its skeletal staff.

“Are they going to just reprint all the wire stuff that everybody saw the night before?” the former employee said. “I don’t know what the strategy is there. It sounds like they’re going to ride this thing down to the bottom of the ocean until there are only a couple of high paid executives left. It’s stunning.”

Lieber blew kisses at the paper — “I’m probably the only person who got laid off by the Star-Telegram that told [executive editor] Jim Witt that he loved him” — and spoke excitedly about the freedom to pursue other adventures.

Lieber is an author with several books published and more planned.

He oversees a couple of charitable organizations, and is planning another, the Texas Ethics League, a nonprofit and nonpartisan think tank geared toward empowering Texans fighting against injustice.

He’s also a frequent public speaker who teaches others on speaking in public.

And he’s eager to begin writing a one-man play about former Star-Telegram publisher Amon G. Carter.

In other words, he’s a busy boy.

“My whole world just opened up,” he said. “My legs weren’t cut out from under me. I’m a happy camper. I’m a really positive guy to begin with. I want to continue to fight for people. I’ll still be out there, they’ll just have to hunt me down a little bit.”


24 Comments


  1.  
    Laurie Barker James

    Nice work, Jeff. Sorry, Dave….the day that a Newquist fires me I hope to go out as gracefully as you.




  2.  

    As a former corporate executive I can remember telling many management teams and board members that you can’t cut your way to profitability.

    As the Star Telegram lays off another star performer, its bench gets weaker and weaker. How long before the ST is absorbed by another newspaper who cuts it back to a garage sale green sheet?

    The ST has not kept up with technology. Its iPad application is a joke and its appearance on Android devices is horrible. But like many other ill run corporations, they will continue to cut back until there is no value. Well, no value except for the gold parachutes.

    Sorry to see you go Dave. But I have no doubt you will look on this in years to come and know that it was meant to be.




  3.  

    Dave, thank you for all you have done over the years for so many people. You will have a special suite in heaven some day because of your service to humanity. Thank you for specific support on issues that you and I worked on that have helped so many consumers. “See ya’ ’round town ! Good luck out there ! “




  4.  
    JN

    Lieber was a real asset to FWST, because he actually took the time to address an individual consumer’s problem with local corporations, national corporations, local and fed government problems and gave priceless advice (while uncovering some covert stinkers in our midst). His Watchdog column was personalized and UNIQUE but the applications of the advice were universal and practical. Now, though, he can write a pungent “tell all” book about his North Texas experiences, which I am sure will be hilarious… (painful loss to the FWST readers, though)




  5.  
    Don Young

    My only problem with Lieber’s column is that he wasn’t allowed to spend much ink watchdogging the biggest criminals to ever invade FW: Gas drillers, landmen and other oil/gas criminals and sheisters. Knowing the ST management that was Rule #1 for Dave.

    Borrom line: The FW Weekly just became more relevant than ever. As Robert Redford once said, “Go get ‘em Katy.”




  6.  
    Missy Cook Beevers

    Say it ain’t so! The FWST just shot itself in the foot if you ask me. Dave will do well and I wish him the best!




  7.  
    kristina

    All of management was corrupt in some way. I was promoted within three months of my hire date and the job seemed promising, but then I was fired after a couple of girls accused me of using racial slurs that I had never heard. They had actually been the ones to make racist comments. They said things like, “I hate the white people that live next door to me”, “Little white kids think they sh** don’t stank.”, and “Girl, why you so skinny? You on crack?” :) I tolerated it, of course, because what else can you do? We worked on an unsupervised evening shift. These girls had repeatedly made jokes about how they should “blame it on Kristina so she will get fired”. I was brought into an office, yelled at, and called a bigot by a nasty woman who we will call J. I was told, “We don’t tolerate your kind here.” When I told her that it was all fabricated and that I had never heard the terms that I was accused of using I was moved to a new department where I was then fired for my first mistake. I was only twenty one years old and had never experienced anything so completely backward and absurd. I don’t know anyone who had a good experience with the Star Telegram.




  8.  

    Good news is a thing of the past. Never to be repeated




  9.  
    Joy

    Thank you Dave for your many years of a column that helped so many people. I wrote in to you one time thinking I would never get my problem resolved but you did it! I don’t think it was ever in the newspaper but it was resolved and I thank you for that. I’ll be sorry to not see your column anymore and I think the FWST has made a huge mistake!! Great luck to you!!!




  10.  

    Their loss. Our gain. Dave Lieber has been an exceptional reporter, righter or wrongs and fighter for those without a voice. And he has done much of this through stories and humor. I’ll miss his columns. But I’m excited for his future! Now that he has been set free I expect we will see his super hero covered belly as he soars on to accomplish more heroic deeds. I’m rooting for you Dave and I expect that your best years are just beginning. To infinite and beyond!




  11.  
    Paul B. Moore, CPA

    It’s a sad day for Fort Worth. We have no need for the Star Telegram now. We will cancel our daily subscription. Dave is a resilient guy who will only prosper moving forward. If wealth is counted in friends, Dave Lieber is the richest man in Texas. By the way, Dave would make a great Govenor, he’s got our votes!




  12.  

    Hey Dave, I worked 16 years as a contract writer, earning 35% commission on what I sold, a page of advertising that was generously promoted. A desk was provided, use of phone and occasional mailings. When hired, they said: all you do is fill a page with 20 ads. My work was the most expensive at the Wichita Falls Times Record News.

    Many of the businesses remained a part of Just Browsing, until I removed it from the paper, following the death of my daughter. I never had trouble selling an ad, there was seldom room to add a new merchant, so I’d do specials. Just Browsing became an award-winning page, thanks to many people.

    Just like Dave Lieber, I had no thought that I was working. I loved what I was doing, even though I knew nothing about publishing.

    Jim Lonergan, the Publisher of the Times Record News, hired me because of my personality — the article above, regarding Dave Lieber, spoke of his self-promotion…–…–believe me, work like his and what I was doing requires that; you have to be out there building community trust, representing your associates, working to make them proud, demonstrating your dedication to the printed word, recognizing its strength to influence readers who come to rely, on what you say — that their trust in “what Dave says” extends to all who represent the Fort Worth Star Telegram. What Dave does is innate — it’s also hard work.

    I know exactly what Dave means when he speaks of his gratitude to The Star for the best 20 years a guy could have. I felt that about the 16 years I spent at the Times Record News, I had much more fun than Dave — I did anything I wanted — I was once told: you don’t follow the rules. I replied: I don’t know the rules — which makes it easy to do as you please.

    I don’t know about Dave’s training, but I knew nothing, I could not spell, I was self-conscious working with journalists, I knew I could not write, my ex husband convinced me of that. I know some of you are holding your head as you edit this, but like you, those I worked with, were patient and assured my success.

    I had wonderful editors who left me in their changes. I was scared to death, I had two girls in college that I contributed to.

    Every comment questions how a delightful, energetic and productive guy like Dave could be let go. It’s got to be tied to pay. They will not replace a Dave Lieber, I wasn’t replaceable, warts and all. I left a successful page that soon folded, because it looked too easy. Though my work ran biweekly, I was in the businesses every week.

    Dave is a people-swizzle-stick, he kept things stirred, he can taste public feelings. He’d be a bright spot on TV, producing exactly what he does now, he’s known, trusted, dumped — and available. He looks like a colorful guy, a personality already made.

    I failed to mention I was interviewed by the Star Telegram to take a page that was losing money. I called Mr. Lonergan and mentioned my ideas — he agreed I could make the page successful.

    When the guy who interviewed me asked: would you change the page? I was shocked, but replied: of course, why would I want to work on something that was losing money?

    He dismissed me with: I don’t think you will fit the corporate world. I thought Harte-Hanks was corporate, but what do I know… There are many who came from The Times Record News, who successfully fit the corporate world, of the Star-Telegram.

    Best wishes Dave. You do know how to leave — it can’t be easy to leave a great place and fine associates, but just think of what you carry with you. All you were given — all you gave. You’ve been training 20 years for another exciting, wonderful position and from all the comments: you go armed — whoops, perhaps a better word is: prepared, ready.

    I have a feeling you’ve set aside the top 5 offers to ponder. It’s clear you don’t have to rush, but you like having fun too much to delay your choice. The Amon G. Carter play is my choice, but I can’t write.

    Keep us posted.

    delores emmett jones




  13.  
    Reader

    First Betty, now Dave. What loses. The Weekly continues to surge past the Startlegram as the voice of the people. Time for the Star Telegram to recognize that its political intrigues on behalf of the Fort Worth power structure has caused it to go the way of the dinosaur.




    •  
      L A

      Such an accurate comment. The Star Telegram seems bent on degrading itself to the level of abysmal. I cannot fathom any sane reason why they would decide to get rid of Dave Lieber!

      Thank heavens for the F W Weekly and the Star Telegraph website – you both are the best source of real news happening in this area.

      Amon Carter Sr. must be spinning in his grave over how low his paper has fallen. I’m looking forward to seeing Dave’s play about him.

      I wish you all the best, Dave. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your tireless efforts to right wrongs. You are truly the definition of the word Mensch.




  14.  
    Roy Batty

    Kennedy and Galloway and their stale, self-serving attempts at relevance should have been sent packing instead….




    •  
      JN

      I would prefer that no one else is “sent packing”. The FWST has columnists I recognize unlike the “always evolving” DMN.




      •  
        Roy Batty

        Familiarity and substance are two quite different things…..




        •  
          Reader

          I agree with Roy. One need only look at Norman and Campbell’s recent posts. ST let the wrong people go. JN needs to go back to the Startlegram where familiarity and the Fort Worth way are “substance”.




          •  
            JN

            Actually, except for a few nice surprises, Dave Lieber, being one, I stopped reading any local and most national newspapers except the WSJ for “substance” in high school. FWW and the alternative press locally are, I must say ,better than most.




  15.  

    Pure class – that’s the only way to describe the response of the ever-brilliant Dave Lieber’s lay off from the Star Telegram.
    Now I have no reason to read the Star Telegram any more.
    They lost – the world won – the world will embrace (and already has) the message, the stories and the wit of Mr. Lieber.
    If you haven’t seen him speak – do so. I’ve seen him speak three times and he as brilliant a speaker as he is a writer. I wish Dave every success for the future – he has a message that is “simply irresistible.”
    The Star Telegram was like a booster rocket that got him in orbit – it discarded itself – now let’s see him really go places! Good luck my friend!




  16.  

    Dave,
    I will miss your column and the down to earth advice. I think you are an asset to the area and your attitude will carry you through better yet rocket you forward. I took your advice and went to the google machine to get the rest of the story. Thank you for all the great advice and columns. I will keep up with you http://www.davelieber.org/
    You provided a real service. A word whose definition has been bastardized in the last 30 years.




  17.  
    Purveyor of truth

    Dave, you are a classy guy! I had the pleasure of hearing you speak at a function put on by the State Health Dept years ago! I was amazed at your level of expertise, humor, candor and just plain love for life! I tell you this, I would LOVE to be on your “think tank” in a New York minute! You have done incredible things, but I only have one complaint. Why haven’t you reported on FWISD and their ill’s? Betty Brink was a journalism rock star icon and we miss her badly, but YOU sir, could fill those shoes nicely! ST has been kept a float by people with a lot of money, and some of those people work or sit on the board of FWISD, which explains ALL of the puff pieces they write about the district. Meanwhile FWW and Betty Brink always reported the truth and people (mostly FWISD) dared to call FWW a “RAG”??? Yeah, it’s a rag, only to people who hate and fear the truth. ST exec’s will walk into a dark newsroom soon; key cheesy instrumental in the background, with picture flashes of great journalists like you, Betty, Jeff Prince and others gone, as they look on with sadness, turn around and bolt the ST doors behind them for good! Fade to black! Good luck Dave and “give’m hell”! And FWWeekly…you had me at Betty Brink! Don’t forget her and what she stood for…justice…and you too Dave!




  18.  

    Bad management is it’s own reward! Dave Leiber is one of the best journalists and Dad’s — yeah, I read his book, too! — He represents Texas and all Texans! He is and has been an advocate for good and justice. He will prosper. The paper will not. As I have learned over the years, Vice Presidents never fire themselves. And like the snake eating it’s tail, soon there will be no tail — or snake. That is our local Star-Telegram. Forgotten in this news story should be a notice that for the past several years the Fort Worth Weekly has actually produced better journalistic news and well written LOCAL stories than the Star-Telegram. So, let us also congratulate FW Weekly for publishing the story that should have been, once again, the lead in that other once glorious paper. Amon Carter must be very upset about now.




  19.  
    Melinda

    SHOCKING NEWS to read about!

    Wonder what the FWST will do with all that WHITE SPACE….?





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