It took a girl from the big city to bring the most fitting end to a story on the death of Galena Police Chief Ken Horn.
"Final radio call, off duty to home," KOAM's Cheryl Tirol, a Chicago native, ended her report on today's funeral service during the just-completed opening segment of the 10 p.m. news. Ms. Tirol, who has been Channel 7's point reporter on its biggest stories over the past several weeks had just the right touch of sadness and sentimentality to her story without allowing it to become maudlin, which is easy to do with stories that revolve around death.
This kind of story gives viewers insight into the thought process that goes into news reporting, whether it be television or newspaper. My rule on this kind of story was to let the events and the people tell the story and stay out of the way. The emotion will come across without the reporter having to hype it.
That was the way Ms. Tirol handled the story.
KODE and KSNF chose another path...one that I am sure led to many complaints with more to come. During their early evening newscasts, both stations showed the body of Ken Horn, even leading off their newscasts with the photo.
KODE repeated the affront to dignity during its 10 p.m. newscast. I was switching back and forth, but as far as I can tell, KSNF did not. If that was the case, I would probably attribute it the veteran guidance of anchor/editor Jim Jackson.
KOAM, while thoroughly covering the funeral, maintained a respectful distance, not taking any photos of the deceased.
I recall the one time when I broke that cardinal rule of decent, humane coverage by accident, not noticing that the foot of a dead woman was visible in an accident photo. I received vicious letters to the editor for the next couple of weeks, as well as a number of phone calls, and deservedly so.
As far as the job done by the reporters from KODE and KSNF (which sent anchor Tiffany Alaniz), I had no problems except they appeared to be trying to top each other with attempts to tear at the heartstrings.
This is one case where a better idea might have been to utilize the power of a picture. Let photos and silence tell the story. That, or a restrained effort like that of Ms. Tirol is the way to handle the story.
The Carthage Press used half of a page one in January 1999 to cover the funeral of eight-year-old murder victim Doug Ringler. I wrote the lead story, our columnist Ron Ferguson, a former Carthage police officer, wrote a page-one column, and there may have been a sidebar story, I don't remember.
In fact, the only vivid recollection I have of that paper was the art added by our award-winning photographer/staff writer Ron Graber (now The Press' editor). Ron had a picture of a framed photo of Doug from the front of the Bykota Church where the funeral was held and a photo of the release of a single balloon outdoors after the funeral to signify Doug's ascent to heaven. I can't imagine any words I might have written telling the story any better.
A study issued today by professors at St. Louis University indicates that Governor Matt Blunt's recommended cuts to the Medicaid program could cost 288 jobs in Jasper County, 30 in Barton County, 18 in Dade County, 48 in McDonald County, and 84 in Newton County.
The study was not a spur-of-the-moment undertaking after Governor Blunt's State of the State message last week, but was compiled after former Governor Bob Holden recommended cuts to Medicaid last year.
Blunt's recommended cuts are six times as much as those recommended by his predecessor.
The report, written by Joel D. Ferber, J. D., Heather Bednarek, Ph. D., and Muhammad Islam, Ph.D, said, "Our economic analysis found that for every $1 million that the state spends on Medicaid, the resulting federal matching funds generate 42 jobs and over $3 million in business activity in Missouri."
Using those findings, the study said Governor Holden's proposed cuts in 2004 said would have caused the state to lose more than 2,049 jobs, $150 million in economic activity, $73 million in wages, and $5.4 million in tax revenue.
The study's findings were consistent with those in 17 other studies reviewed in a recent Kaiser Commission report.
Multiplying the study's findings by six may not be entirely accurate, but would bring some clarity to what Governor Blunt has proposed. In addition to the job forecast, the counties would see the following approximate reductions in business activity: Barton County, $4.5 million; Dade County, $1 million; Jasper County, $19 million; McDonald County, $2.4 million; and Newton County, $6 million.
Reduction in income, using the same formula, would be: Barton County, $760,000; Dade County, $450,000; Jasper County, $9 million; McDonald County, $1.1 million; and Newton County, $3.2 million.
Monett school officials are not saying anything about the sudden removal of high school band director Craig Smith from the classroom, saying only that he has been placed on administrative leave.
The former Lamar High School band director has been replaced on an interim basis by assistant director Rebecca Fillingham, according to tonight's Monett Times.
From all appearances, Smith's time with the school district is most likely over. "Steps have been taken to bring in additional faculty and support needed to make sure the band students get the support and instruction necessary to continue the strong tradition of Monett bands," Superintendent Charles Cudney told The Times.
The article indicated letters have been sent to all parents and students telling them about the move. An administrator gave the students the same message in person Monday.
"Are you looking for a newsroom that rewards enterprising reporters?" That's how The Joplin Globe worded its ad which appeared today on a national journalism website. The ad continues, "We are looking for an individual with the skills to dig beneath the surface and provide readers with compelling daily coverage of the news that most affects their lives."
No word on whether this is a change of policy by The Globe.
John Hall's latest KOM League Report features an interesting bit of trivia. Dick Fiedler, a pitcher for the Joplin Miners minor league baseball team in 1950 is most likely the only person to be connected with two very dissimilar baseball legends.
Fiedler was a member of the University of Southern California's 1948 national championship baseball team under the guidance of legendary coach Rod Dedeaux. That team won of two of three baseball games against Yale that year, pulling off a triple play in one of the games. Yale's first baseman was a fellow named George Herbert Walker Bush.
John Hall has just finished writing his third book about area minor league baseball of a half century ago. He has helped keep the old minor league teams alive with his books, e-mail newsletters, and by sponsoring reunions.
The Carthage Press, Joplin Globe and Multichannel News are reporting that Cox Communications has reorganized its management system, putting the Missouri franchises in its Kansas division, thus enabling it to continue broadcasting KODE and KSNF programming for the next year.
The maneuver came at the last minute as the two stations were scheduled to be pulled off Cox franchises in Carthage, Lamar, and other cities today.
The most complete coverage of the maneuver was offered by Kaylea Huston in The Press. None of the three media outlets had been able to reach Nexstar COO Duane Lammers to get a comment at the time their articles were written.
Cox's Missouri franchises, also including Monett and Aurora, had been in the company's Arkansas region, which had to stop carrying the Nexstar stations' signals today.
Cox could not pull the same maneuver with its franchise in Bossier City, La., which had to drop KTAL-TV, an NBC affiliate owned by Nexstar. The city attorney there hand delivered a letter to the Cox office saying the company had violated its exclusive franchise agreement with the city by not carrying KTAL.
"We will take them to court," if Cox doesn't put KTAL back on the cable, City Attorney Jimmy Hall told KTBS-TV in Shreveport, La.
Lammers told the TV station, "I asked Cox to make a commitment to pay a penny for our signal. They refused to do that, so we're at a complete impasse."
KTBS was unable to get a comment from anyone representing Cox.
CBL & Associates, the new owners of Northpark Mall in Joplin, had good news for stockholders today. An Associated Press article indicates the company pulled in 36 percent more in revenue, beating earlier expectations.
Quarterly funds from operations totaled $96.8 million, the article said, up from $71.1 million a year earlier.
The same neutral arbitrator has been selected to hear arguments in two federal lawsuits to see if trials can be avoided.
Jim Newberry, Springfield, has been selected to serve as arbitrator in the lawsuit filed by former Southwest City Police Chief Ron Beaudry against the Southwest City Mayor and City Council, and he will also arbitrate the lawsuit filed by former prisoner Oscar Alvarez against former Newton County Sheriff Ron Doerge.
The documents announcing Newberry's appointments in those lawsuits were filed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.
More information on those lawsuits can be found in earlier editions of The Turner Report.