The Joplin Globe, southwest Missouri's fierce watchdog protecting the taxpayers' interests, has officially been spayed and neutered.
An e-mail sent from newly-minted Globe Publisher Michael Beatty to Missouri Southern State University April 6 shows that the Globe dropped attempts to dig deeper into the troubled situation at the university, offered to bring Editor Carol Stark to meet with President Bruce Speck to give him "examples of positive stories" the Globe wanted to run about MSSU, and offered Speck advice on how to manage the news.
The e-mail, which was released through a freedom of information request by the one newspaper that has actually been pursuing the truth behind the controversies at the university, The Chart, also indicates that the get-tough approach of Globe reporter Greg Grisolano to the MSSU story may be the reason why other reporters are now covering the university. It was Grisolano's Freedom of Information requests that Beatty stopped, in an apparent effort to curry favor with Speck, MSSU Board of Governors member Dwight Douglas, and most likely, the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce leadership, which has steadfastly stood behind Speck, Douglas, and the doomed effort to bring a medical school to Joplin.
Beatty's love letter to Speck included the following passage:
"We wanted to do an arboretum story for Arbor Day, a story on the mansions (sic) renovation, a story on the Science Fair, of course, the Prairie Issue, and lastly on how you saved money for the university on the hiring of the two new VP's."
Beatty opens the e-mail by giving Speck the good news that the critical investigation into his presidency is apparently a thing of the past:
"You will hear that we are withdrawing our requests for your schedule, Rod's schedule, and your expenses."
After that opening, Beatty asks for the meeting with him, Carol Stark, and Speck. It looks as if access is the most important thing as far as Beatty is concerned:
"As I thought more about the issue of a spokesperson, I will share with you what I experienced in Baltimore. I was used to the spokesperson to be more of a facilitator of the organization on how the message should be controlled. Examples would be call to Rod (Surber) about a story, he knows how you want the story played out so he picks the spokesperson. This gives him/you appropriate individual time to develop the message. The process is really about controlling the message when working with the press and keeping transparency to the taxpayers.""I think we can find a middle ground so that all will be satisfied with the process."
Only in Michael Beatty's vocabulary can complete capitulation be defined as "a middle ground."