Several years ago, I hired a person whom I thought was the perfect person for the job, to be sports editor at The Carthage Press. I was so excited that this person was coming on board, and it was a person who had considerable name recognition in this area, that I printed a page-one story the day before she was scheduled to start announcing that she had joined the Press staff.
It never happened. To this day, I still do not know why, except I don't believe it had anything to do with me or The Carthage Press. I imagine she just did not want to make a change in career at that point and she has never done anything with her writing talent since that time, as far as I know.
That experience taught me a valuable lesson: Do not announce anything until you are absolutely certain about it, which brings me to the point of this post (and isn't it about time?).
While I have had nothing to do with the planning and launching of the Joplin Daily, other than being one of hundreds of people the planners asked for advice about the project, my name and my writing will be associated with the publication and with the website.
I am not being paid for my participation, except for the publicity which it gives this blog and my novel, and with the opportunity of being involved, in a small way, with the excitement that goes along with the launching of a new news source. As those of you who read The Turner Report regularly know, I have been involved with two such publications, an ill-conceived Jasper publication started by The Lamar Democrat in August 1989 and The Lamar Press which ran 49 weeks from August 15, 1996, through July 11, 1997.
Carthage Press Publisher Jim Farley asked me one time to draw up a plan for a Joplin weekly, which I did. I am happy to say that many of the things I thought would make a weekly successful in this market are being used by The Joplin Daily, as well as some great ideas that I would never have thought of in a million years. And, of course, when I drew up the Joplin plan, newspapers were still not into the age of the Internet.
This project though, is taking exactly the approach Jim Farley wanted with a Joplin weekly. It is stressing Joplin, Joplin, Joplin, with a heavy emphasis on school and community. It also is not overlooking the many positive things that are going on every day in Joplin. It also does not look at anyone who is in an official position as a crook or as an enemy, something which The Joplin Globe does on a regular basis.
Having known John Hacker for years, I am certain that if a scandal breaks out, he will get to the bottom of it, without blustering and bellowing as the Globe's editor does, about how powerful his newspaper is.
Turner Report readers will be familiar with the subject of my first column, the 15-year anniversary of the death of Nancy Cruzan. I ran much of the same material on this blog Dec. 26. The Joplin Daily also features an update on how Nancy's family is doing, and some photos of the family have been posted on the website.
This new project is not going to change the media criticism role of this blog. I will continue to write about the Joplin Globe...both its positives and negatives...as well as the Joplin Daily, and any of other Joplin publications.
And I might add, the initial harsh criticisms I leveled at The Joplin Herald, all of which that publication richly deserved, were made long before the possibility of me writing a column for the Daily was ever considered.
As I have written several times before, if this works as it should, with the Daily providing a fresh approach to news and the Globe improving its product to meet the challenge, the big winners are going to be the readers.