Thursday, February 23, 2006
'Small Town News' signing is tonight
A quick reminder:
A signing for my novel, "Small Town News," is scheduled for 7 to 8 p.m. today at the Neosho/Newton County Library.
Since The Turner Report is getting approximately 100 readers a day more than it was at the time when I was running an update on the book nearly every day, let me give a quick recap of what it is about.
The novel was inspired by events that took place Oct. 31, 2001, in Diamond when the bank was robbed and the school superintendent, Dr. Greg Smith, disappeared on the same day. At first, media reports seemed to link the two events, though later it turned out there was no connection at all. Dr. Smith's body was found the following week, in his car at the bottom of a pond just outside the Diamond city limits. Newton County Coroner Mark Bridges eventually ruled that Dr. Smith committed suicide.
At the time, I was teaching current issues, a writing-intensive class, at Diamond Middle School. In one of my classes, we discussed the situation and I was surprised by the vehemence of the opinions students had about the behavior of the media during the whole situation. They were particularly disturbed by the way Dr. Smith's widow was treated and the scope of the questions with which she was bombarded. Almost 100 percent of the students thought the media should leave the woman alone.
The student comments got me thinking about writing the book, which is a fictionalized version of those events. The focus is on the media, as seen through the eyes of a student, a high school junior named Tiffany Everett who has a one-week internship with one of the three local television stations.
Within the 196 pages of the book, the way the media handles news in a small town is scrutinized though the actions of the high school junior, her teacher, the television reporter to whom she is assigned, and the editor of the town's newspaper.
Those who are familiar with The Turner Report will note the recurrence of some of the themes I have expressed in my criticism of local media.
I would love to see some of you tonight. Stop by, bring a copy of the book to be signed, buy one, or just drop in and talk about whatever is on your mind.