The Tardy Times
   Lance escapes jail . . . Buffalo Bob's
  unusual game . . . Flacktory news

A good score
THE CHRONICLE’S hard-working Bob Egelko duly reported the quote, but what did it mean? It came from Debra Wong Yang, the former U.S. Attorney in San Francisco. She spoke in a panel discussion right next to the Chronicle’s Lance Williams.
  She had invested about two years in trying unsuccessfully to jail him and fellow reporter Mark Fainaru-Wada for not ratting out their secret source.
   But she said, “Putting a reporter in jail is not a good score.”
   Did she say “a good score?”
   By then, the judge vacated the contempt order.
   Mark left the paper and signed on with ESPN. Two days after Chronicle colleagues congratulated Mark at a send-off dinner on Nov. 7, Yang’s successors announced a long-delayed indictment of Giants’ multimillionaire outfielder Barry Bonds. He is charged with obstruction of justice and perjury based on his telling a grand jury that he had never knowingly used steroids. For the first time, the newspaper had a single byline (Lance) on a Balco story. But if you tuned into the sports channel, there was  a new ESPN commentator (Mark).
    Lance told Editor & Publisher that he didn’t see it coming. He had predicted that the bulked-up slugger would never be indicted. The veteran investigative reporter had taken considerable abuse from fans and management of the San Francisco baseball club, but he said,  “By the time we are done with this, the public will get to see all of the evidence that has been kept secret.”
  What’s more, the public will get a chance to see a movie version of Lance and Mark's “Game of Shadows,” which Gotham issued as a hardback in March 2006 and as a paperback a year later. (It squashed sales of “Love Me, Hate Me,” Jeff Pearlman’s unauthorized biography of Bonds. Based on 524 interviews, it was crippled by unfortunate timing. It came out a month after “Game of Shadows.”)
    HBO  bought  “Game of Shadows” to be directed by Ron Shelton (“White Men Can’t Jump”). An actor will play Phil Bronstein.
    Shelton will need to send a casting call to Worldwide Movie Animals, LLC, to train a Komodo Dragon for the Phil-can’t-jump scene. 

Child’s play
GLENN SCHWARZ told us that once he and the late Jerry Sirocky spent hours trying to track down Bob Forsberg, a memorable Phoenix staffer in 1968-69 at SF State. (For reasons blurred by the mists of time, his friends called him Buffalo Bob.)
   Today he's the sports editor of the Chronicle, but when he knew Buffalo Bob he held the same job at the campus weekly. He still remembers a dull party 29 years ago in El Sobrante at the home of the Phoenix managing editor, Walt Couick.
   To pass the time, we got into a lively discussion of children's games – kick the can, capture the flag, and so forth.
   Buffalo Bob volunteered the rules of a his favorite. He called it "Rock Over the Garage."
   "It takes two," he said. "You  get a big rock, about the size of a soup bowl.  You throw the rock over the garage, and your opponent throws it back.”
   He was serious.
  “If it doesn't come back, you win."
   Years later, Glenn and Jerry tried to phone most of the Robert Forsbergs they could look up in the directories.  Buffalo Bob couldn’t be found. Perhaps he played one last game of Rock Over the Garage – and lost.  


ONE OF THE the least appealing jobs on any newspaper is the skimming of Business Wire press releases.
   It's true that the privately owned flacktory gladly comped announcements from nonprofits and do-gooders. But the San Francisco-based service made its money encouraging shills, hustlers and public relations counselors (same difference) to flood email inboxes and the Post Office with thousands of tedious announcements, boastful publicity, corporate flatulence and just enough actual news to justify a look-see.
   One example of actual news came over the wire in 2005. The proprietor himself, Larry Lokey, informed business editors that Berkshire Hathaway had purchased Business Wire. The new owner: Warren Buffett.
   In a minor demonstration of the differences between a “news” release and a news story, the price tag was not disclosed.
   Lokey, a onetime reporter who founded BW, has said his company had been appraised in 2006.
    For $600 million! There’s gold in them there shills.
    That's almost as much as the Hearsts paid for the Chronicle seven years ago, but here is he news story: A genuinely nice guy is sharing his wealth.
    Lokey, who grew up in Portland, graduated in 1949 with a journalism degree from Stanford.
   He had already given $132 million to his non-alma matter, the University  of Oregon, including $74 million to benefit science teaching and research.
    In his latest immediate release, Lokey announced major gifts to his alma mater. He is contributing $20 million for a science building, $33 million for a stem-cell lab and a pledge to replace the Storke Publications Building.
   The Lorry Lokey Stanford Daily Building will cost $3.75 million, a palace built by flackery – and Lorry’s generosity.

The Geezer Gazoot
September 2008

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