That happened last week after the initial news of a break in the JonBenet Ramsey story took place, I was naturally interested in how the local media would handle the story.
On the television side, KODE and KSNF both led their 5 p.m. newscasts that evening with the JonBenet story, while KOAM had it further down the list of stories, though it was mentioned at the top of the program.
The Joplin Globe handled it correctly the next morning. The newspaper stuck with local stories on page one and put the JonBenet story in Section C, an acknowledgement that interest existed in the story so it should be in the newspaper, but that it did not deserve the emphasis given to local stories or to important national and international stories.
So imagine my disappointment when I read Editor Ed Simpson's column Sunday. Instead of making a bold defense of a proper decision, he kowtowed to a solitary critic.
I took a rather disdainful message from a gentleman visiting Joplin last week who questioned the general rubeness of the Globe for failing to put the arrest of a suspect in the JonBenet Ramsey killing on the front page. Actually, he didn't question it at all; he seemed quite convinced Li'l Abner was running the show.
We played the story on page 4C of Thursday's editions.
On the front page that day, we carried a package on Joplin's first day of school; Surface being charged with driving while intoxicated; the Joplin City Council advancing a public-safety tax for a final vote and ... this is what did it for the visitor ... a report on the rise of skin infections in the United States.
OK, I thought, the guy has a point. But, then, I thought: I really, really don't care about a suspect in the death of a Denver child beauty queen. I would care about a real arrest, if someone could give me the details that would allow a reasonable person to conclude that police are finally getting somewhere.
So far, the lists of suspects has included her entire family at one point or another and nearly everyone who ever passed by the house.
I would be very interested in your thoughts.
If I understand what Simpson was saying, if he could have been certain this was the story that finally got to the bottom of JonBenet Ramsey's murder, he would have given it page-one play.
The JonBenet Ramsey story does not belong on page one of The Joplin Globe or any other paper other than the one in Boulder, Colo. It is one of those stories like the Scott and Laci Peterson story or the Natalee Holloway disappearance that somehow grab the attention of the media while other, more important, stories are shunted to the background.
Should it receive play in the Globe? Absolutely, but it should be handled insamesdame manner as celebrity news and non-local human interest stories and put in a back section, or at least in the back part of the Section A.
Tabloid-type stories from other states do not belong on page one of a local newspaper.