Everywhere Static turns these days is another message about the wonders of the Barnett Shale.

Tommy Lee Jones’ serious face looks out from TV spots and billboards, bus stop benches promote the natural gas cause, and that half-hour infomercial, “Citizens of the Shale,” allows diners at the Paris Coffee Shop to weigh in on how great horizontal drilling is for the entire Fort Worth community. But the latest ad campaign from Chesapeake Energy is turning even the most cynical heads. The drilling company recently published a 72-page glossy mag entitled The Barnett Shale, The Official Magazine of Thriving on the Shale. It’s got 30 articles on everything you might want to know about da’ Shale, including a nice letter from Gov. Rick Perry.

But the shocker of this quarterly is its sheer weight. The paper stock is so thick you can’t even tear it. One of Static’s friends in the printing biz estimates the cost at $25 to $30 per copy. Chesapeake didn’t say how many copies they printed. But even if it were just 30,000, the cost, including postage, would be more than $1 million.
Chesapeake and other drillers are making billions in North Texas, so Static understands they have lots of cash for their PR campaign. But if the drilling is so wunnerful, then why are they shoving it in our face at every turn? Makes you wonder about the other parts of the story they ain’t telling.

Other Shoe, Undropped
Informal word from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram newsroom late Tuesday was that the suits were still totting up how many people (representing how many salary dollars) took voluntary buyout offers and weren’t saying yet whether more employees will have to be laid off. About 17 newsroom folks got their walking papers last week, and various S-T sources said McClatchy, the paper’s corporate owner, is looking to lose another 30 to 35 journalists, one way or the other.


In advertising-related departments, however, the threshing machine was in full gear on Monday. The VP over those sections told his workers that because not enough people had taken the buyouts, layoffs would be needed, starting with the newest employees and moving up the list until enough jobs had been eliminated.
For those offered a buyout, it was a “Deal or No Deal” situation – take the up-to-six months’ severance pay and hope to find a job in a grim newspaper job market, or hang on at the S-T and hope that, in another six months or year, it wouldn’t be you getting tapped on the shoulder.

The Star-Telegram, usually one of the more profitable papers in the McClatchy chain has often been put in the position of giving up things – travel money, salaries, and in this case jobs – in order to help staunch the flow of red ink at other papers. One veteran journalist who took the buyout said McClatchy has “gotten rid of everything it could get rid of. … I don’t know where this is going to end.”