Lois Norder One of America’s Best Newspaper Editors

By Dave Lieber/Founder, Watchdog Nation

When one of my journalistic heroes, the irascible Jimmy Breslin, columnist of New York City, won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1986, he said to everyone in his cheering newsroom these words about his editor:

“This award actually goes to Sharon Rosenhause, but I’m not speaking to her.”

As I celebrate the 19th anniversary of my stay at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as metro columnist, I say almost the same about my editor:

“This award actually goes to Lois Norder, and I AM speaking to her.”

This year, a year for which I will be forever grateful, my Watchdog column won local, state and national awards.

Nowhere on the awards, though, does the name Lois Norder appear alongside mine. A terrible oversight. One that needs to be corrected. Have you heard of Lois Norder? Probably not. Yet she’s one of America’s top newspaperwomen.

One of America's top journalists

Lois Norder, Managing Editor/News & Investigations

I know this because I have worked for her for 19 years. How many can say they’ve had the same boss for two decades? And not just any boss, but a boss who lifts you up and helps you see the big picture, the vision you must deliver to your readers week in and week out to stay vital in their busy lives. Simply put, unlike anyone I know, I’ve worked for the same great boss for 19 years. And that made all the difference.

Texas is, more than anything else, a place to find your dreams. And so I had come to Texas to pursue my Breslinesque dream of writing columns that helped people live better lives. I left a newspaper with a paid Sunday circulation 10 times larger than the circulation of the edition at my new job at the Star-Telegram. In retrospect, it’s a good thing circulation wasn’t larger. I was no good.

How could I be? I was making a leap of faith that things would work out in this strange new place of Texas, far, far from my hometown of Manhattan. At first, though, nothing worked. I was a tepid Yankee writer struggling in “Foat Worth” — where the West begins.

My No. 1 boss struggled, too, with my style, my writer’s voice, my choice of story ideas. She was unhappy with me. Nobody liked my work, including me. The No. 2 editor in the office was quieter, more nurturing and smart as hell. She took an opposite tact. She worked with me, slowly and carefully, building my confidence. Then she did what every writer in the world needs to succeed. She began to talk me up. Told anyone who’d listen that I wasn’t nearly as bad as No. 1 and everyone else, including me, believed. She saw something that nobody else did. Lois Norder was my first Texas defender.

When she was promoted to the No. 1 job and became my direct supervisor, she taught me how to pursue a higher level of story, looking into the reasons why problems happened, and what can be done to fix and change them for the better. That quest to look at problems in different ways, more than anything else, allows our partnership to thrive in an industry that as a whole isn’t doing so well. We’re not here to tell the public how to think, but give them information so they can decide for themselves.

In 2005, Norder and Executive Editor Jim Witt created a different kind of column. They called it The Watchdog. Then they cut my leash and told me to run. Woof!

The first house ads in the paper promised readers: “Finally, you’ve got somebody in your corner.” The universal scope of The Watchdog was laid out for all: “If you feel stonewalled at City Hall or need help holding businesses to their promises, count on The Watchdog to be in your corner. Dave Lieber will let readers know what needs to be fixed in our community, and who’s responsible. But he’ll also offer stories about governments, businesses and organizations which do things right, along with consumer alerts and ways to protect your interests.”

Dave Lieber, award-winning investigative columnist

And that’s what we did together. Since March 18, 2005 with a debut story about a travel club that promised free airline tickets but never delivered, a hundred times a year, each year, my boss and I are here to help. Whether a city hall tipster wants the boss’ extravagances exposed, or an elderly woman can’t get $4,000 that an insurance company owes her, The Watchdog swoops in and lives a comic-book fantasy.

Here’s a short video showing the boss and I that Star-Telegram Managing Editor/Digital News Kathy Vetter made for the 2012 Texas Associated Press Managing Editors’ conference. It’s called Rescuing Mr. Benson.

A few years ago, I compiled everything I learned from both Norder and from the stories we worked on together and created a philosophy of self-protection and self-preservation called Watchdog Nation. The accompanying book was dedicated to “Lois Norder – Editor, mentor and friend.” The book won a couple of national indie book awards for social change. (The newly-released 2012 edition made its debut on TV.)

Dave Lieber's Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong


There’s a picture of us inside, with me dressed in a Revolutionary War uniform.

She doesn’t get her name on my stories, or on the awards. But her influence hangs over each word. In a world of bad bosses, everyone deserves at least one great one in their life. I’m luckier than most. So that’s why these awards go to Lois Norder of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and most definitely, I am speaking to her.

# # #

Dave and Lois shared these awards in 2012.

Local: The Fort Worth Society of Professional Journalists, 1st place for First Amendment Awards for reporting on open government.

State: The Texas Associated Press Managing Editors, honorable mention for community service.

National: The National Society of Newspaper Columnists, 2nd place in general-interest columns for large metro newspapers.

The judge in that contest, Tom Ferrick Jr., former metro columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, writes: “If I were a government official in Texas and picked up the phone to hear, ‘This is Dave Lieber,’ my heart would skip a beat. And not from joy. Lieber is a classic watchdog journalist, looking out for the little guy – and he gets results. While it’s admirable that he is an ombudsman, it’s his flair and skill as a writer that earn him this award.”

Read the web version of some of the prize-winning Watchdog columns:

160 constituents make a difference with bill on North Texas Tollway Authority

Fort Worth Official resigns after boss finds backlog of open-records requests

Investors in Bless 7 financial program start complaining

# # #

The Watchdog appears regularly in the Star-Telegram here.

Watchdog Nation “Tougher ‘n a junkyard dawg”

Dave Lieber’s Watchdog Nation receives mail, mail and more mail every day from folks who have problems and want to learn how to solve them. This is one of our favorites that arrived at Watchdog Nation World Headquarters this week.

 Dear Brother Dave (aka “Tougher ‘n a junkyard dawg”):

 It is well-imagined that all your postal mail, your e-mail and your received phone calls begin with, “Dave, I’ve got a problem, and I want you to spend your time/energies/ and all your remaining resources toward arriving at a resolution.”

 This letter, though, is the exception!

 Dave Lieber's Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong

Ever since you responded to my “Dave, I’ve got a problem” letter several months ago, I’ve since felt a very close connection to “The Watchdog” and look forward every Sunday morning to reading about your resolution of other folk’s problems in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

 The “resolutions” are general in nature, and as such they benefit not only the one who request your monumental effort — but they further aid those who’ve had similar problems, or may be confronted with them in the future.

 But of course, not everyone enjoys reading “The Watchdog.” Not everyone you say!?!

 Well, the con/scam/bunco “artists” don’t enjoy it, and I think it is safe to say that many of them (if not all) have been “run out of Dodge” because of your having revealed their attempt to “separate us gullible old fools from our meager (cash) holdings.”

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More Watchdog Nation News:

Watchdog Nation Partners with Mike Holmes

America meets Watchdog Nation/Listen to Fun Radio Interview

Watchdog Nation Debuts New e-Book and Multi-CD Audio Book

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 So once again, this hard-scribbled letter is but meant to serve as a GIGANTIC and heartfelt thank you for all that you have done/are doing/and will continue doing for all of us “everyday/average” folks who (too often) are being “stepped on” by the big bully ner-do-wells with their “get rich quick schemes.”

 With sincere respect and admiration,

 Rod Hale

Glen Rose, Texas

 PS I already know the quality of your heart, and as such, a response to this letter is not necessary. Have a coffee break instead, OK?!

# # #

Dear Rod,

Response unnecessary? Surely, you jest. What a wonderful, touching piece of writing that we will treasure always.


# # #

Dave Lieber shows Americans how to fight back against corporate deceptions in his wonderful book, Dave Lieber’s Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong. Are you tired of losing time, money and aggravation to all the assaults on our wallets? Learn how to fight back with ease — and win. Get the book here.

Read The Watchdog Nation manifesto here!

Visit Watchdog Nation HeadquartersDave Lieber's Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong

Like Watchdog Nation on Facebook

Watch Watchdog Nation on YouTube

Twitter @DaveLieber

Watchdog Nation proudly sponsors Summer Santa children’s charity

Dave Lieber’s Watchdog Nation is a proud sponsor of Summer Santa, one of North Texas’ largest children’s charities.

The donation goes to the charity which sends several hundred children to summer camp each year. Summer Santa has no physical office and no paid staff. All of its work is done by volunteers.

Summer Santa was co-founded by Dave Lieber and Westlake Municipal Judge Brad Bradley in 1997. Since then, Summer Santa has helped tens of thousands of children with its back-to-school clothing program, free medical checkups, after-school activities, toy distribution to area charities for summertime play and sports league scholarship.

“I am just as proud of my work on Summer Santa as I am of my work creating Watchdog Nation,” Dave Lieber says. “One helps children; the other helps adults. Helping others is a key component of Texas culture. I’m so grateful that I have learned that lesson!”

Learn how you can donate to the tax-deductible charity here, and know for certain that your money will only go directly toward paying for these valuable children’s programs that help children in need.

Dave Lieber's Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong

Cyn Choate, Summer Santa Chairman, accepts a sponsorship check from Watchdog Nation and Summer Santa founder Dave Lieber.

Watchdog Nation explained in five minutes!

Watchdog Nation founder Dave Lieber is given five minutes to explain his simple method of protecting yourself for the rest of your life. This happened in February 2011 at the Granada Theater in Dallas, Texas as part of Ignite Dallas 3.

For Apple product users, watch it here.

Visit Watchdog Nation HeadquartersDave Lieber's Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong

Like Watchdog Nation on Facebook

Watch Watchdog Nation on YouTube

Twitter @DaveLieber

Are you tired of fighting the bank, the credit card company, the electric company and the phone company? They can be worse than scammers the way they treat customers. A popular book, Dave Lieber’s Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong, shows you how to fight back — and win! The book is available at WatchdogNation.com as a hardcover, CD audio book, e-book and hey, what else do you need? The author is The Watchdog columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Visit our store. Now revised and expanded, the book won two national book awards for social change. Twitter @DaveLieber

Dave Lieber book that won two national awards for social change.


Watch the archived tape of the radio/TV interview with Watchdog Nation founder Dave Lieber, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Watchdog columnist.

Here’s the link with host Brian Parker on www.onthehorn.com radio … or, if you can see the video box below, hit play.



Dave Lieber's Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong

Dave Lieber

Watchdog Nation founder wins two national columnist awards

“Every city needs a Dave Lieber.”

That’s what one judge said when awarding Dave, founder of Watchdog Nation, one of his two national writing awards at the 2009 conference of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

Lieber, The Watchdog columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, one of Texas’ finest newspapers, won second place in the Herb Caen Memorial Items/Notes category and honorable mention for general-interest columns in newspapers with more than 100,000 circulation.

The general-interest columns were about a retired airline pilot who lost much of his life savings through scams, a government-sponsored research project that enrolled patients without their knowledge and a Baylor Health Care System employee whom hospital police believe stole $1.4 million. The notes columns were watchdog shorts about various items.

One judge commented, “Dave Lieber’s columns quickly and easily create a sense of outrage in a reader. He writes about rip-offs, scams and jerks who take advantage of the most vulnerable people in society. He exposes wrongs and wrong-doers. Every city needs a Dave Lieber.”

Another judge stated, “Members of the Fourth Estate play many important roles in society. Among them is that of ‘watchdog’ — the reporter/writer/editor who is adept at ‘afflicting the comfortable, and comforting the afflicted.’ Mr. Lieber fills that role very well.

“Mr. Lieber does not engage in the frequent chest thumping that accompanies many of the ‘I am on your side’ investigators who spend far too much time telling you how great they are rather than focusing on the problem.

“Mr. Lieber gets quickly to the point about who was wronged and how — and he does it covering topics of wide general interest. It’s a safe bet that businesses around Fort Worth read his articles faithfully — and with some trepidation.”

The columnists’ society (columnists.com), with 300 members, held its 33rd annual conference in Ventura, Ca. The group honored Jon Carroll of the San Francisco Chronicle with its Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award.

Full winners list here.

Watchdog Nation book wins national book award

Subject: 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards – Winner Social Change

Indie Award Logo

Watchdog Nation has received the following communiqué:

We are writing with some fabulous news. Your book — Dave Lieber’s Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong — has been named the Winner in the Social Change category of the 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Congratulations!

Your achievement will be published at www.IndieBookAwards.com.

Additionally, your book will be listed as a Winner in the 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards catalog which will be distributed at Book Expo America in New York later this month to thousands of attendees including book buyers, library representatives, media, industry professionals, and others.

Once again congratulations from all of us at Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group and the Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

Here is a complete list of the 2009 Winner and Finalists for Social Change:

  • WinnerDave Lieber’s Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong

    by Dave Lieber

    Yankee Cowboy Publishing

  • FinalistAn Unlikely Family: Voices of Ethiopian and American Youth Who Are Turning Tragedy Into Hope

    by Ben Beisswenger, Christopher Beisswenger, Margaret Eldred, Zoe Dmitrovsky, Meron Foster, Carolynne Krusi

    Anemeone Publishing

  • FinalistAudrey on Nantucket

    by Audrey Obremski


  • FinalistAutism ABC

    by Dr. Sherry L. Meinberg


  • FinalistBusiness Revolution through Ancestral Wisdom

    by Tu Moonwalker and JoAnne O’Brien-Levin, Ph.D.

    Outskirts Press

  • FinalistGreat Peacemakers: True Stories from Around the World

    by Ken Beller and Heather Chase

    LTS Press

  • FinalistNegotiating with Giants: Get What You Want Against the Odds

    by Peter D. Johnston

    Negotiation Press

  • FinalistNo More Mr. Nice Guy

    by James Alston


  • FinalistSaints in the City

    by Andie Andrews

    Outskirts Press

  • FinalistThe Thinking Person’s UFO Book

    by Gordon Chism

    Avenue Design, Inc.

  • FinalistThe Third Basic Instinct: How Religion Doesn’t Get You

    by Alex S. Key