(The following is my column for this week's Newton County News.)
Over the years, Joplin Globe editors and reporters have earned a reputation for doggedly pursuing the truth, even to the point of browbeating politicians and businessmen who refuse to give them answers on anything the newspaper deems to be of public interest.
That dedication to the pursuit of the truth has enabled the Globe to break many important stories, something which, of course, benefits its readership.
During the past several months, the Globe has diligently pursued stories about layoffs at local plants, interviewing those who have been left without jobs and those who made the decisions on who would be sent to the unemployment line.
Unfortunately for Joplin Globe readers, that noble quest for news the public needs to know ended last Thursday. That was the day the axe swung at Globe headquarters. From what I have been able to discover, at least 15 full or part-time workers, and possibly as many as 25, were fired, including at least one name which should be familiar to those who have read the newspaper on a regular basis.
Farm Editor Mike Surbrugg had been with the Globe for at least three decades. During the time I was editor of the Lamar Democrat in the 1980s, Mike, in addition to handling the Sunday farm pages, was the regional reporter covering Lamar, Barton County, and numerous other areas. He has a reputation for working hard and doing his best to make sure his readers were receiving accurate information.
From what I have been told, Globe supervisors called the budget cut victims into their offices and told them their jobs no longer existed. After that, with no time to say goodbye to longtime friends, guards escorted the fired employees, including veterans like Mike Surbrugg, out of the building.
If this is the first time you have heard about this, it is not because you missed it in the Globe. The same newspaper that has bullied people who refuse to answer its questions has not written one word about this situation in the five days since the massacre occurred. The information has been available from only three sources, my blog The Turner Report, KOAM, which could get no comment from any Globe officials, and word of mouth.
Three days after leading Mike Surbrugg away from the building like he was some kind of security risk, the Globe Sunday edition ran his last farm page, complete with a column accompanied by his picture (smiling, of course). No mention of the fact that the man who put in all of the work that made the page possible was no longer employed by the newspaper.
I suppose it is a sign of the times. The Joplin Globe is far from the only media company to studiously avoid publicizing anything negative about itself. Sadly, that is something the media does every day. Some would call it good business sense.
A more accurate word would be hypocrisy.