Saturday, November 14, 2015

Since when does Joplin Globe support student journalists' First Amendment rights?

It's a good thing T. R. Hanrahan is still alive. If not, he would be rolling in his grave.

On its opinion page Friday, the Joplin Globe Editorial Board came out strongly in favor of the rights of MU student journalist Tim Tai, who ran into problems while he was trying to cover the events that are taking place at the university.

His right to expect that he would be able to do his job should never have been in doubt, especially in a place of higher learning.

The Globe editorial was right on the money. Student journalists, all journalists for that matter, should be allowed to do their jobs.

But while the Globe was willing to step into this situation at the University of Missouri, it failed to do so when the situation was taking place in its own backyard.

When former Missouri Southern State University President Bruce Speck had copies of the Chart removed from a campus function because it had an article he considered to be negative, the Globe failed to write a word about it.

Then later, when Speck cracked down on the Chart staff, which was doing an incredible job of covering the problems that he and his administration had caused since his arrival on campus. Speck eventually fired Hanrahan, who was the Chart adviser, and silenced the voice of the campus newspaper.

During that time, the Joplin Globe failed to do what newspapers over the United States have always done when student journalists have been challenged. There were no editorials defending the students' rights to investigate wrongdoing on the campus. There were no examinations of whether Hanrahan's dismissal had anything to do with the investigations of Speck.

When it came time to defend the First Amendment when it was being challenged in Joplin, the editorial board did not write one word. The newspaper's reporters never investigated the situation.

On the contrary, the Globe took a far more significant stance on the First Amendment when it came to Missouri Southern. After initially running investigative articles by reporter Greg Grisolano, who was hitting the university with one Sunshine Law request after another, the Globe removed Grisolano from university coverage and transferred him to another beat.

And in an e-mail that was acquired through a Sunshine Law request, it was revealed that the Globe's publisher Michael Beatty, who still holds that position. conspired with Speck to help him deal with negative media coverage.

Beatty's e-mail 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 opened the e-mail by telling Speck that the critical investigation into his presidency was 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 asked for a meeting with him, Editor Carol Stark, and Speck.

"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."

The contents of that e-mail would never have been revealed had it not been for that freedom of information request, which came from Editor Brennan Stebbins and the Chart staff. An excellent example of investigative reporting.

No thanks to the newest proponents of students' First Amendment rights, our friends at the Joplin Globe.


shannbecker said...

The flip happened about 15 years ago in broadcast journalism. Radio (Zimmer) and television (Nextstar and Saga) stations merged in the Joplin market and the sales department began to control the programming and information. Since when have any television stations here (or radio) had a significant investigative news angle? That's why you see advertisers "information" packages ran as "look live" and "newslike" every morning on Nextstar's BUSINESS SHOWCASE. It's paid advertising that's posing as news. In the end. If Mike Beatty was actually investigative of MSSU he'd lose dollars...that is something the Joplin Globe can't do. The printed paper will soon die just as the current generation of baby boomers are laid to rest at Ozark Memorial Park.

Anonymous said...

Business Showcase... lol. I did always so love Shelby Bates' riveting "reports" on Cartridge World. Always exciting to see what was happening at Cartridge World that week! Usually something involving Cartridges.

Turner censors said...

Calm down Turner.

You censor. So your entire complaint is that the Joplin Globe censors those "reporters" who you want to read, not that they censor those you want to censor.

Private property, Turner. They get to use their own editorial slant just like you do.

You want to really avoid censorship, get your own petty blog for free on blogger or and proceed to censor those you don't like and whine like a hypocrite when others do what you do.

And you wonder why people laugh at you.

Anonymous said...

Dear 5:45,
It's a lovely irony that your censorship argument is destroyed by your own comment being posted here!