Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The sleaze factor at The Joplin Globe will hit an all-time low when its Thursday edition hits the stands. In its pages, under the guise of reporting governmental news, is as blatant a piece of character assassination as I have ever witnessed in the Globe's pages.
Using the pretext of a verbal confrontation that took place in a hallway outside of a Joplin R-8 Board of Education meeting...not in the meeting itself...the Globe takes advantage of the situation, in an article written by Jeff Wells, to put some juicy gossip about newly-elected board member Rhonda Randall into print.
Apparently, Ms. Randall has been the target of a mother, Melissa Braun, who wants her to resign her board seat because of an affair Ms. Randall allegedly had with a married man. I still hesitate to write about it because the very act of writing these words makes me feel a little cheap and tawdry.
If this allegation had been brought up somehow during a public meeting that would be different. It wasn't. It wasn't even a lengthy battle, according to the Globe article, which described it as "a brief war of words," and "a short confrontation."
The article reads, "Braun called the Globe the day after the election and requested news coverage, saying she was passing a petition around her neighborhood calling for Randall's resignation from the board." Nothing on the petition said what the problem with Ms. Randall was, but Ms. Braun told the Globe she had been telling people that Ms. Randall "had an affair with a married man."
Apparently, Ms. Braun sought out Ms. Randall at the meeting Tuesday night and initiated the "short confrontation," according to the article.
In the article, Ms. Braun indicated she felt threatened and plans to go to the police about the situation. Perhaps that is another reason the Globe decided to go with the story.
In its zeal to land a hot story, The Globe has allowed itself to be manipulated by someone with an agenda. The worst part of it is, not enough digging has been done to determine exactly what the agenda is.
This is not a case of a woman who has been accused of a crime that would make her unfit to sit on a board of education. Whatever anyone thinks of adultery, unless it is done at the taxpayer's expense or unless it is being used to affect decisions being made by a public isn't any of our business....and we don't even know that there is even the slightest bit of truth in these allegations.
And if there is a bigger story out there involving this situation, the Globe should have waited until it had that story pinned down.
The Globe's editors blew it big time. There was absolutely no reason to rush this story into print. It didn't tell their readers anything they needed to know about how their school district's money was being spent or how policy decisions were being made.
It also offers a blueprint for anyone else who wants to get out information about an elected official, whether it be the truth or innuendo. The Globe article has contributed to the growing cheapening of public discourse in this nation. It also has the potential of damaging several lives.
Globe editors owe Rhonda Randall...and their apology.

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