I didn't have much of an opportunity to look over the posts on this blog today, but after just reading through them, it appears we have some great discussions going. Allow me to make a few comments.
To elaborate on what I wrote earlier in a comment on the post about KODE reporter Dan Tordjman: I am not trying to make light of the job an assignment editor has, either in broadcast or print journalism, but the most important thing is not what the assignment is but making sure you have the right person there. After that, the reporter has to do the work, which is exactly what Dan Tordjman did with his interviews with fired Joplin police officer Charles Ward Tuesday.
I can think of dozens of times over my years with the Press and the Democrat when I assigned the right person to cover a story and the readers were rewarded with excellent reporting. The first example to come to mind was my former lifestyles editor at the Press, Amy Lamb. I have never been one of those who believed that lifestyles should be limited to stories about club gatherings and feel-good features. Two of Amy's best remembered stories, both of which I assigned to her, were her coverage of the execution of Richard Oxford, the man who murdered Harold and Melba Wampler of Jasper; and her detailed account of the preliminary hearing for Terry Cupp, the man who murdered eight-year-old Doug Ringler of Carthage. In both of those, Amy brought her prodigious feature-writing talents to stories that normally would have been covered by a courthouse reporter. Amy wrote her first story about a murder when she was in high school, working for me at the Lamar Democrat, when she followed up on an unsolved murder of a Jerico Springs liquor store. I made the assignments, but Amy was the one who did the work and she was the one who deserved the credit.
While a newspaper editor or a television assignment editor has to make choices in what is covered, to take away from the reporter's work would be like saying that firefighters and police officers don't deserve credit for the work they do because dispatchers tell them where to go.
I am heartened by the uproar over the elimination of the state capital reporting job at Missouri Southern State University's newspaper, The Chart. I am not sure The Turner Report has ever had a post that has elicited more comments.
And while I do appreciate the anonymous commenter who praised my reporting abilities in comparison to others who have emerged from MSSU, I cannot agree with his assessment of Neosho Daily News publisher Rick Rogers' forming a blog to address the current state of the Chart. I don't see it as an attempt to steal The Turner Report's thunder, but simply as an effort to restore his former college newspaper to its former glory. Obviously, from the responses from Rick, John Ford, and the others who have written in, there are a host of former Chart staff members who feel the same way. And I have never claimed to have a "scoop" with this story; it was passed along because this blog does regularly feature media criticism and, as far as I am concerned, this is a major local media story.
Besides, I have a feeling that the people would prefer this story be written about by as many sources as possible to increase the chances that some action will be taken to correct the problem.
I received one comment asking about a rumor that Asay Publishing is starting a business newspaper for Joplin. I have heard the same story, and the people I have heard it from have indicated that the new publication may feature Joplin Globe Editor Edgar Simpson's predecessor, Tom Murray, as the editor, and might have former Globe editor/reporter Gloria Turner involved, as well.