Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Joplin Globe publisher to MSSU President: Is there anything else you would like us to kiss, Bruce?

It is an outcome only Bob Barker can appreciate.

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."


Anonymous said...

This is blatant prior restraint, and should result in Beatty's firing. Since when does a newspaper collude with a source that spends taxpayers' money??? Of course, this happens all too often in the real world of newspapers. But it should be stopped. I'm hopeful that now, having this revealed, that Beatty should resign and so should Cousin Brucie.

HLMenken said...

Ah, so this is why, Mr. Beatty, you're no longer in Baltimore, perhaps? Got "promoted" from a market one step away from the nation's capital for your hard-hitting newspaper work, did you?

What an outrage! Does no one care about decency any more? Have you no decency, Mr. Beatty? Have you no pride in the heritage of the newspaper business? Are you nothing more than a boot-black for Bruce Almighty and Doug Spineless?

Hooray for The Chart! The only real newspaper in Joplin!

Beatty, you should be ashamed of yourself! I'd love to hear what other papers, those run by real newspapermen, have to say about your slurping up Bruce's dingle-berries!

Anonymous said...

There were certainly enough problem's with Speck's leadership style when his actions were subject to coverage and scrutiny from a truly free and independent press. It's frightening to think how bad things may get with Beatty actively covering up and white-washing every move Speck makes. If Beatty's personal morality didn't prohibit him from sending an e-mail like that, his professional standards should have. He has failed in the basic principles drilled into most first-year journalism students. What a disgrace.

Cowgill Blair said...

It's obvious why Beatty took this approach with Speck: He wanted MSSU's advertising dollars. It's journalistically immoral, of course, but Beatty has been charged by Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc. to increase advertising revenue. It's disturbing that Editor Carol Stark would acquiesce so easily to the new publisher without putting up a fight for journalism integrity.

Show me the gold said...

The Globe has no credibility left when it comes to covering Missouri Southern.
It is nice that The Chart asked for the information (for the most part) that The Globe decided to retract. Speck's schedule, for instance. But wouldn't those expense records be fun to see?

Anonymous said...

Will a steady hand ever guide the Globe again? Dan Chiodo slept while Ed Simpson abused his position and estranged the Globe from the community. It appears Beatty is going in the opposite direction and force Carol Stark to cuddle up to the same people that Simpson pissed off.

It is sad really. Publishers used to command respect because of they led powerful and independent organizations. Today's newspapers are so dependent on a few large accounts that they aren't able to be watchdogs.

Anonymous said...

Randy, I hope that you have forwarded this information to Beatty's superiors and the appropriate watchdog organization for newspapers (I'm hoping such an organization exists). The Globe will never publish a letter or column disclosing this despicable pandering. Something more must be done to disclose the fact that the Globe's publisher apparently has no journalistic ethics.

Anonymous said...

And I suppose that Carol Stark & Beatty didn't relegate Greg Grisolano to the hard-hitting Newton County News beat as a punitive measure, but rather as a reward for his coverage of MSSU for which he received recognition.

Yes, The Chart is the only true news organization in town. The Globe has been out scooped and out classed by student journalists for the past 18 months!

Anonymous said...

Maybe the Carthage Press will have the guts to join the Chart and the student reporters in questioning this incredible actions by a newspaper publisher and editor.

Anonymous said...

Let's list the entities which contribute to the good of our community, and otherwise:
1. Joplin Globe & Other Media
2. Ministerial Alliances
3. MSSU & School Systems
4. Area Chambers of Commerce
5. Numerous Civic Organizations
6. Elected/Appointed officials
7. Our youth, seniors & taxpayers

This list could go on and on.

1. Bloggers
2. Frustrated failures
3. Thieves, robbers and perverts

Anonymous said...

To 7:51 am:

4. Dwight Douglas
5. Bruce Speck
6. Gary Nodler
7. Mssu board of governors
8. Globe publisher
9. Globe editor

Anonymous said...

The actions of the Globe publisher are disgraceful, immoral and unprofessional.
What a pitiful example for student journalists. Speaking of example, the Chart should send a copy of the publisher's email to the Student Press Law Center. They could use it as a real-life example of unprofessional conduct and the violation of the sacred principles Schools of Journalism try to instill in future journalists.
I feel sorry for Carol Stark. Just like all the good folks at MSSU, she has to work for a bad boss.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I wonder how many other companies/organizations got a "hands-off" email from Mr. Beatty?

Anonymous said...

This revelation is outrageously non-ethical with respect to the journalism profession. It's stunning.

That said, given the fact that the general Joplin community couldn't care less if the Globe publisher adheres to professional ethics or not, my prediction is that this will have no effect whatsoever at the Globe.

In a different community, this would translate into instant resignation. But in this community? He might even get a raise.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Dwight could give Beatty a medallion like the one all the board members got at Bruce's inauguration.

Wm. R. Hearst said...

Has any local reporter asked Beatty's superiors at national head office if this is standard practice at their firm, or are they perhaps as shocked and disgusted at Beatty's behavior as we readers? They did, after all, exile Beatty to Joplin from one of the country's major markets for some reason: I doubt it was for excellence in journalistic management.

This egregious violation of newspaper ethics should result in his immediate expulsion from the job, of not form the community.

Anonymous said...

Forget Beatty's serious breach of journalism ethics for just a minute. Rather, who in the f--- is he to give advice to Bruce Speck? In case you weren't aware, Beatty was appointed publisher of the Baltimore Examiner in December of 2006. The paper folded in February of 2009 and all 90 employees, including Beatty, were laid off. So it just over two years, Beatty ran the paper out of existence. Now why is he giving any advice to MSSU?

Anonymous said...

The Baltimore paper appears to be a rather small paper for such a big city. Then he is sent to Joplin, MO! Like Bruce, Beatty appears to be out his league...

Anonymous said...

A publisher's job is to shake hands and kiss ass. Publisher's are glorified advertisers, businessmen, and they always have been. Every newspaper has guys just like Beatty and it doesn't stop the newspaper from doing its job. Blindly requesting everything you can get your hands on, throwing it all at the wall and hoping it sticks is lazy journalism and reeks of a completely unobjective and embarrassing personal fight between the school paper and Dr. Speck. They can be the “real newspaper” when they stop writing the same article every week and quit pretending certain editors aren't just out to get people.
There's a difference between thinking critically and just being pissed.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the input, Rose.