Nothing the staff could do was right and advisor J. R. Ledford was targeted over and over for not keeping up the high standards from those halcyon days of old.
Now with T. R. Hanrahan at the helm, the Chart is going into, pardon the expression, nearly unCharted waters.
The situation facing the newspaper is probably more difficult than any the former staffers faced. The university is in turmoil, the Faculty Senate is exploring a vote of no confidence in President Bruce Speck, and Speck has developed a well-earned reputation, both here and at his previous place of employment, Austin Peay, for vindictiveness and intimidation tactics.
Despite the pressure, the Chart not only delivered solid coverage of the no-confidence vote, but provided historical background of a previous no-confidence vote in 1981, coverage of the Joplin Globe's efforts to get e-mails from top officials, and best of all, a hard-hitting editorial on the issue (which was reprinted on the Joplin Globe website). The editorial included these thoughts:
Then, while attempting to get comments from faculty and staff on a late-breaking story, we had to wait while five phone calls were made, two of which were to University Relations and Marketing to make sure the employee was allowed to speak on the matter.
Rod Surber, director of public relations, is not to blame here. It is the culture of fear that has developed on campus that has people fearing for their jobs to the extent they are hesitant to speak with the campus newspaper.
What’s going on here?
We at The Chart understand the faculty senate’s decision to explore a vote of no confidence.
We know we’re not the only ones who’ve heard the rumor of the president being replaced, and with the level of unrest around campus, this committee is necessary to determine if there really is a problem, and if a vote of no confidence is justified.
The campus is filled with paranoia and secrecy. Our local paper smells blood in the water.
And would-be comedians are taking their shots. Our school is quickly becoming a big punch line. And this joke is not funny.
And all of this coverage was provided despite the fact that Bruce Speck and his confederates at the university have already shown they have little regard for the First Amendment, and even less regard for anyone who dares to cross them.
Now would be a great time for the Chart alumni, who have been so quick to show displeasure when things were not done they way they did it, to show some support for the young people who make up this year's staff.
For what it's worth, even if T. R. Hanrahan's reporters don't hear anything from the Chart alumni, who hold key positions in newspapers all over this area, they have the support of this graduate of Missouri Southern's School of Education.
Note- This version is slightly amended from the original. It totally slipped my memory that J. R. Ledford was the Chart advisor during the alumni's period of displeasure. My apologies for the error, but the general premise is the same- this would be a great time for the Chart alumni to show strong backing and encouragement to this year's staff.