The news was big for Joplin, and especially for the Joplin Globe, since it was the newspaper which pursued the story behind the handcuffing and arrest of an 11-year-old boy at a Joplin elementary school.
The Globe ran one story after another about the case, and also offered columns and editorials. Ironically, when it came to the final denouement, the Personnel Board's decision to uphold the firing of Officer Charles Ward, it was the Joplin Daily's government reporter, Michelle Pippin, who put the information out on the web first, striking in the wee hours this morning. She also had a more thorough account than that offered by the stodgier Globe.
The Globe bounced back this afternoon, sending out e-mails at 11:09 a.m. to readers who have signed up for the bulletin service. The decision was announced in four terse paragraphs followed by this sentence: "For more on this story see Wednesday’s edition of the Joplin Globe or go online at www.joplinglobe.com."
Those who went to the Globe's website to find out more actually found no additional information. In other words, Globe editors wasted their readers' time. In the meantime, Ms. Pippin's concise recap of the story appeared shortly after 2 p.m.
So in a brief assessment of the newspaper wars today.
-Globe sends out four-paragraph bulletin, tells readers to see complete story in Wednesday edition.
-Daily posts complete story at 2 p.m. approximately 10 hours before a complete version appears on the Globe website (if Globe editors follow their normal procedure), 18 hours or more before those who wait for the print edition get to read about what happened.
While it is understandable that the Globe wants to protect the sanctity of its print edition, the presence of the Daily should be forcing the Globe to go more in depth on its stories. Consider that not only did the Daily pound the Globe on this story, but before it hits the streets in the print edition of the Globe, it will have already aired on the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. local newscasts.
Speaking of the broadcast media, the three local stations acquitted themselves well in their coverage of the Ward announcement, with all three leading their 6 p.m. newscasts with the story. For once, it appeared that both KODE and KSNF assigned reporters to the same event, with KSN's Lauren Hieger and KODE's Dan Tordjman offering reports. Anne Bassett reported for KOAM.
The most telling quote I heard came in Ms. Hieger's report when she quoted Ward's characterization of the Personnel Board as civilians who did not understand why a police officer might need to use extra force.
Ward's comment was an insult to nearly all of his former co-workers at the Joplin Police Department. Not only do they not find it necessary to resort to force and the use of stun guns as much as Ward, but not one of them would ever violate every ethical canon of police work by participating in the interrogation of the 11-year-old who allegedly spit on Ward's son, as Ward did.