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The yolk’s on us?



For a moment there, News Hits thought we were going to be wiping enough egg off our face to fill a hatchery. As it is, there’s just a bit of yolk that needs to be brushed away.

After this rag had gone to press last week, the mayor’s office announced a major overhaul of the City of Detroit’s communications department — which was what this column had alluded to when we passed on speculation that Jamaine Dickens, spokesman for Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, was about to be axed.

But the press release made no mention of Dickens’ future. So we assumed that he was just being provided with some much-needed help instead of being shown the door.

Damn those gossips.

As it turns out, Dickens is leaving his job as Kilpatrick’s mouthpiece. However, the official word is that the departure is of Dickens’ choosing. That info comes from Dave Manney, appointed last week to the newly created position of communications director for the city.

A source tells us that Dickens wanted more time with his kids. The search for his replacement has been ongoing for months. Some reporters thought Dickens was stuck in an impossible situation; he alone was responsible for fielding the daily deluge of media calls — a daunting task for just one person.

So, it appears, there’s at least a little splatter of yolk dripping that needs to be removed from our mug.

Manney’s appointment to his new post atop all the city’s PR efforts was announced last Tuesday. The former reporter, relief worker during the war in Bosnia, and assistant news director for WXYZ-TV Channel 7 says more changes are to come.

The hiring of Manney was welcomed by the few hacks we talked to. He’s considered affable and sharp, and is respected as a journalist.

Manney says he believes in Kilpatrick, and took the job because he recognized the city’s communications problems.

“I felt there was a lot I could bring to the table,” Manney says. “Overall, they were not effectively getting their messages out.”

One thing he says will change is the attitude toward the press in regards to returning phone calls and other drudgeries.

“I’ve been there. I know how tough it can be. We will get info out as quickly and thoroughly as we can,” says Manney, noting that is sometimes easier said than done. “What I do bring is an understanding of the challenges that reporters and news managers face in covering the news. I feel your pain.”

The proof is in the pudding, but let us be the first to send Manney a cordial welcome. And we promise a honeymoon period of at least a week before we start giving him grief.

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