Saturday, September 30, 2006

Chart article leaves out student perspective

Student newspapers exist for two reasons: They serve as a training ground for young reporters, and they also provide news on subjects of importance to students.
That's why the article in the latest edition of Missouri Southern State University's newspaper, The Chart, on the proposed sale of MOHELA assets is so disappointing.
The article, for the most part, sloughs off legitimate concerns about the proposed sale while echoing the sentiments of college officials, Governor Matt Blunt, and Lt. Governor Peter Kinder that no reasonable person could possibly oppose the sale. Consider the following passage:

Attorney General Nixon has filed several lawsuits already and has threatened suits against individual board members, claiming the sale of MOHELA assets violates the charter of the organization. Others have claimed the initiative favors capital improvements over students, though the plan allocates $25 million in general revenue for scholarships. In addition to the capital improvements and scholarship money, the Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative would provide construction jobs in the communities slated to receive buildings.


While the scholarships are definitely a plus in the deal, they have absolutely nothing to do with the affect this sale might have on students who have MOHELA loans. The most likely suitor for the MOHELA assets is Sallie Mae, a large contributor to Gov. Blunt's campaign. The problems this company has caused for student whose loans it holds, were chronicled recently on 60 Minutes.

Reporter Alexandra Nicolas provides a forum for Sen. Gary Nodler in the story, allowing him to criticize Attorney General Jay Nixon:

"He sees what a huge, huge success this could be for the governor that he's running against," Nodler said. "He's a party crasher, he doesn't have an invitation."


By making the whole story boil down to the impression that Attorney General Jay Nixon's opposition to the asset sale is based solely on his political rivalry with the governor, the Chart is skirting its obligation to examine an issue of great importance to its readership.

17 comments:

Pissed of said...

The new publications manager for the Chart must have been asleep at the switch on this one. Wake up and show your students the necessity of balanced news coverage!

Anonymous said...

It seems journalism has officially died at MSSU.

Anonymous said...

Not so fast. The lack of student perspective in the MOHELA story and elsewhere is troubling, but The Chart is making noticeable progress under its new publication manager.

Look at the slate of news stories in this week’s issue:
• Panel looks at diversity to enhance curriculum
• Improvements to stadiums help recruitment, draw more fans
• Instructor, wife welcome triplets
• Unit trains CSI students
• MACADA honors Strait with award for advising
• Program teaches medical basics, clinical sessions
• Senate fills vacant seats, reviews parliamentary procedure
• Foundry brings national acts to Joplin
It’s been awhile since the Chart pursued several news stories each week. The current staff’s efforts should be encouraged.

The quality of the stories has also improved. This isn’t this the same weekly wipe that we saw last year.

Anonymous said...

The danger here is that young communications majors are learning how to become mouthpieces for the school administration and local legislators, instead of reporters. This is not journalism. There is a difference between a newspaper and a campus newsletter. I'm not sure which the Chart is.

Anonymous said...

This was an article about a press conference involving Lt. Governor Peter Kinder and comments from State Senator Gary Nodler. The article is totally accurate and doesn't attempt to editorialize by adding comments that were not made or presenting a perspective that was not present. You have grown so accustomed to reporters that attempt to present there own slant rather than report on what actually occurred that you now criticize accuracy itself!

T.R. Hanrahan, Publications Manager, MSSU said...

Dear Randy and his readers:

We make every attempt to report the news without bias. I think Alexandra did just that.

The first thing this 18-year-old freshman did after that press conference was call the office of the Missouri attorney general. She received no response. She tried. The following passage appears in the story:

"Call's to Nixon's office by The Chart had not been returned by press time."

By the way, there was more than one call placed. All students who have been approached so far abouot MOHELA do not have an opinion.

Randy, we have five people with the position of "editor." Two of them are completely new. If you have any promising students in your communications arts classes, please encourage them to pursue a career in the print media.

I assert that last year, many of the stories we have addressed this year would have gone ignored. Alexandra has a promising career in newspapers and she is doing an exceptional job as a first-semester freshman. I support and encourage her efforts. That is what educators do.

And I will not hide under "anonymous." Keep making suggestions and keep giving us criticism. That is how all media outlets improve.

Randy said...

For the most recent anonymous comment, while the article may have been prompted by Lt. Gov. Kinder's press conference, it was clearly not about the press conference.
Thank you, Mr. Hanrahan, for your comment. It is much appreciated. I did read the portion of the article in which Alexandra noted that she had attempted to contact the attorney general, and while that was admirable, there is enough on the public record that a portion of his side of the story could have easily been presented.
That being said, I do appreciate the improvements being made at the Chart and eagerly look forward to reading your students' articles.

Anonymous said...

This article wasn't "prompted by the press conference" it was coverage of the press conference! Turner is just clueless.

Randy said...

Read the article. If that article is about the press conference, then it was poorly written. The press conference was a part of the article, the sale of MOHELA assets was what the article was about, as anyone with any intelligence at all should be able to determine simply by reading it.
The fact that the press conference took place may have prompted the article to be written, but the article was definitely about the proposal.

Anonymous said...

Well, we know two things now: T.R. Hanrahan reads the Turner Report, and is thin-skinned.

Anonymous said...

Randy you just don't get it! The press conference was about the MOHELA plan and the article was about the press conference. You are mad because the reporter reported on the event rather than spinning it. You believe that the reporter should have brought in other perspectives and not just covered the news as it was made. You are a symbol of what’s wrong with news today!

Alexandra said...

Ah yes, the joys of free speech. Its nice to see the first amendment is alive and well. I thank you for your critique Mr. Turner, much appreciated. However if you would like to place five calls to the office of Attorney General Jay Nixon be my guest. If Sen. Nodler and the Lt. Gov. can find the two min. to return my phone call then so be it. I would also like to say the quote supplied by the attorney general sums up his opinion accurately.
Also if you, Mr. Randy Turner, would care to question college students on their opinion of a press conference they were not present for, yet again be my guest. The coverage was over a conference, not the issues therein.
As a member of the press and the "resident mouthpieces for the school administration and local legislators" I would like to say that my political beliefs have not nor will they ever be apparent in my writing.
As a final note I would like to say, on the subject of Mr. Hanrahan , though thin skinned he may be, at least he offers constructive criticism for his students. Thank You-
Alexandra Nicolas,
Diversions Editor
The Chart
Missouri Southern State University
(I also do not intend to remain “anonymous” )

T.R. Hanrahan said...

I'm not thin-skinned! I'm not thin-skinned! I don't know why everyone keeps saying that!

Capt. G said...

You are bald with an irritating vocal pattern.

Anonymous said...

Wow, it is nice to see The Chart is getting some attention again.
T.R., I think everyone can agree, there have already been evident changes in the paper this semester. Anyone reading this should take note, it will take much time for the paper to be what it once was. Those saying journalism is dead at MSSU obviously are not in the communications field. T.R., keep up the good work. Chart staff, take criticism with a grain of salt and keep improving.
Randy, comments and criticism make people better to a degree. However, I have yet to see you conduct an interview or write a story. These students aren't bloggers, they are journalists, whether they are in school or not.

T.R. Hanrahan said...

Well, OK, at long as everyone keeps it positive and doesn't offer too much criticism. Trust me, I'm doing the best job I possibly can here. Please keep your negative comments to yourself.

Anonymous said...

As someone who works with tr every day, I find it interesting that someone else posts using his name.

He has posted once supporting his student and thanking Randy for his legitimate concerns. Then he moved on.

Is this about the quality of a news story that ran in The Chart or about someone who doesn't like the guy much?