Monday, August 31, 2015
Could another editor have won the Pulitzer for the Globe?
In the back of my mind, I recalled that after I posted a video of the Tuscaloosa newspaper winning the Pulitzer for the coverage of that city's tornado, a reader left a lengthy comment, exploring the question- Would the Joplin Globe have won the Pulitzer Prize with a different editor, other than Carol Stark at the helm?
The three replacement editors the reader suggested were former Globe Editor Ed Simpson, former Carthage Press Editor and Neosho Daily News Publisher Rick Rogers, and me.
While I had some mild disagreement with some of the reader's psychoanalysis of me, I thought it was interesting then and remains so. How would the Globe have been different the past three years with any of the three editors, or with someone else running the show?
The comment is printed below:
I was not surprised that the Joplin Globe did not win the Pulitzer Prize. Globe employees obviously went through a lot just to keep the paper coming out every day after the tornado, but there was a certain spark missing in its coverage. Since you posted the story a couple of days ago about some expert thinking the Globe might receive a Pulitzer, I have been thinking about how the Globe might have done in the competition with one of the three big journalism egos of the past 20 years as editor instead of Carol Stark.
Yes, I have been wondering if the Joplin Globe would have had their Pulitzer with Ed Simpson, Rick Rogers, or you, Randy Turner, as the newsroom leader.
I can almost guarantee that all three of you believe that you would have brought home the prize.
Ed Simpson would not have let the Kansas City Star come in and outshine the Globe on the daily coverage and on the book. The Globe with Simpson in charge had a knack for investigative reporting that simply has not been done since May 22- except by the Star. Where is the money going? Simpson wouldn't have let his reporters accept the word of officials and allowed his reporters to regurgitate press releases. That same attitude would probably have kept him from getting the Pulitzer. Simpson's Joplin Globe never had anyone who could capture the voice of the community, the same problem the current Globe has.
A team led by Rick Rogers would have been in the running the whole way. At Neosho, Rogers showed what he could do when breaking news hit. The Daily was all over the church shooting and the ice storm, just to name two big stories. Rogers always inspired loyalty in the people who worked for him and he was not afraid to jump in and help out. Though he was a publisher and not an editor at Neosho, my guess is he would have followed the same pattern had he been in charge of the Globe. The design would have been far superior and the current Globe did a pretty good job with design.
You, Mr. Turner, are the wild card, At Carthage, your newspapers always looked like they had 20 reporters working for them instead of just a few. Unlike Rick and Ed, you always had a way of speaking directly to the reader and you always had a knack for hiring the best writers. You, like Rick, would have jumped right in and written stories and columns. Having you leading the Joplin Globe would never have worked. You were always at your best when you were competing with the Globe and the local TV stations and your pattern over the years has been to shy away from any type of challenge like being editor of a larger newspaper. You do have Ed's knack for investigative reporting combined with Rick's eye for the features, but you lack, unless you had Rick or Ron Graber working with you, the design eye that it would take to get the Pulitzer.
Could the three of you working together have accomplished it? Not a chance, because the three of you could never work together.
My final thoughts:
Could Ed Simpson have won the Pulitzer? No, he has the brains, but not the heart.
Could Randy Turner have won the Pulitzer? Maybe as a columnist; there has been no one better at writing thought provoking and touching columns over the years, but you could never win it as Globe editor. Give you some of your top reporters from the Press days and let you compete with a smaller staff and I can see a Rocky-like ending.
Could Rick Rogers have won the Pulitzer? He had the knack for rising to the occasion on every occasion, an ability to inspire his reporters, links into the news pipeline at Missouri Southern, and unlike you, Randy, he is much better dealing with the general public.
Rick Rogers would have won the Pulitzer.
A long-time observer of local news