A plaintiff who alleges the Observer wrongfully disclosed his HIV-positive status has sued the Dallas alt-weekly; its parent company, New Times; and other parties, Texas Lawyer reports. In "Fallen Angel," an article published last December, the Observer referenced the man by name. The plaintiff doesn't dispute that he's HIV-positive but contends that the paper didn't have the right to disclose his condition without his consent. By doing so, he claims, the paper violated the Texas Health and Safety Code. Miriam Rozen writes: "Most attorneys have assumed the statute applied to parties in the medical and insurance industries -- not media organizations." Three of the defendants are seeking the outright dismissal of the plaintiff's petition.
Newspapers in the Phoenix-based alt-weekly chain picked up seven of the 11 awards handed out last month in the under 150,000 circulation category of the National Association of Black Journalists' annual contest. Dallas Observer's Jim Schutze and Julie Lyons, Cleveland Scene's Thomas Francis and Riverfront Times' Jeannette Batz all were named first-place winners.
An appeals court panel rules that a March 2000 story about Dallas restauranteur Dale Wamstad's troubled family life was not libelous. Wamstad's advertising for his chain of restaurants promotes his "family man" image, which the Dallas Observer helped puncture with a story about his ex-wife's claims of abuse. The court found that Wamstad's advertising and court battles had made him a "public figure," and therefore a legitimate target for media attention.
Dallas Observer won two first place awards in the 2003 Missouri Lifestyle Journalism Awards, and The Village Voice and Phoenix New Times each took one. East Bay Express won second place in the General Excellence category for papers with circulations 50,001 to 100,000, and New Times papers were finalists in nine other categories.
New Times writers swept the Newspaper Restaurant Review or Critique category of the 2003 James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards with Jason Sheehan of Westword winning, while Jill Posey-Smith of Riverfront Times and Robb Walsh of Houston Press were finalists. Mark Stuertz of the Dallas Observer was the winner in the Newspaper, Magazine or Internet Reporting on Consumer Issues, Nutrition and/or Health category for his article “Green Giant." Dara Moskowitz, City Pages (Twin Cities) and Walsh were finalists in the newspaper series category.
Washington City Paper leads the field with six nominations in the eighth annual awards contest, followed by the Dallas Observer with five. Among individual contestants, Thomas Francis of Cleveland Scene and Heather Swaim of OC Weekly are nominated twice. The order of finish in the contest will be announced June 6 at the AAN Convention.
Dallas Observer's Eric Celeste understands why the local daily rejects them, but he's not sure why his own paper is cutting back. Publisher Alison Draper says it's because sex ads are "a managerial nightmare." And Editor Julie Lyons, who thinks the ads are "disgusting," calls Draper's decision to scale them back "the most courageous thing I've ever seen a publisher do."
Earlier this month, a Texas appeals court declined to dismiss a case in which the Dallas Observer and reporter Rose Farley were sued for libel by local officials who were offended by a "news story" penned by Ms. Farley. The article wasn't labeled as satire, so Denton County Judge Darlene Whitten and District Attorney Bruce Isaacks apparently are concerned that readers may have believed Ms. Farley's satirical tale, which has the pair jailing a first grader for a book report on Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are."