Saturday, September 08, 2018

Please don't try to bribe me, an explanation of how I select obituaries and this week's top Turner Report/Inside Joplin posts

I can't claim to run every obituary that would be of interest to readers in the Turner Report/Inside Joplin target area, but in the days since I created Inside Joplin Obituaries in November 2013, I have continued to cast a wider net for the obituaries that appear on the blog.

From the beginning, area funeral homes have sent me notifications and obituaries and these are the criteria I use to determine which ones are posted:

1. The deceased has to be someone from Jasper, Newton, Barton or McDonald County, have a survivor who lives in one of those counties or had some other connection to the four counties. This has included people who worked in this area, attended college here, or in many cases, thanks to the extensive research of former Carthage resident John Hall obituaries of people who played minor league baseball in this area have been posted. I have also posted obituaries that I think may be of interest and have even run posts on the deaths of some of the dogs that have worked for local law enforcement.

2. In the old days (before greedy newspaper owners began charging for the obits, everyone's obituary appeared in the newspaper. I remember Jack Harshaw working every morning with area funeral homes to get the facts straight for the obituaries that ran each weekday and Saturday in the Carthage Press. There was a time when you were guaranteed to be mentioned in the newspaper at least two times during your life- your birth and your death. Federal privacy regulations now prohibit the news releases on births that used to be issued by hospitals. Now many people cannot afford to run obituaries when they die, so many never knew who they were or even that they are no longer with us.
I work to find every obituary I can and I am not concerned if these people were not necessarily model citizens. One of the earliest obituaries in Inside Joplin Obituaries was a man who was executed for committing a brutal murder.

3. Two obituary areas have been added in the last couple of years. I started the Inside Pittsburg Obituaries blog to cover obituaries in southeast Kansas. At first, I double-posted some of the obituaries if the deceased had some connection to the four core counties. Now the obituaries only appear on one blog. If the deceased is connected to the core counties, it runs on Inside Joplin Obituaries. Otherwise, it runs in Inside Pittsburg Obituaries. Obituaries have also been added for Lockwood in Dade County, primarily because I was the last editor of the Lockwood Luminary-Golden City Herald when it closed in October 1979, I loved the year I spent in Lockwood and besides, it's my blog so I added Lockwood. It is possible that at some point in the future I will add Dade County to the four core counties.

If you have an obituary that you do not see on Inside Joplin Obituaries or Inside Pittsburg Obituaries, send me an e-mail at


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I do not accept money to keep items off the Turner Report/Inside Joplin

I can't recall it ever happening when I was editor of the Carthage Press, but when I was at the Lamar Democrat, there were three instances in which people attempted to bribe me to keep items out of the newspaper.

All of them involved violations of the law. In two cases I was offered money to keep arrests out of the paper. Another time, an attractive young woman in her early 20s, offered something of a more physical nature.

When these bribe offers were made, I explained my policy. The first time you ask me to omit something from the paper, I explain the policy. If there is a second time, I not only run the item, but I run it at the top of the list in bold letters.

Though those people were disappointed, they said they understood my position. (The attractive young woman was probably relieved.)

I have no idea why, but the number of people trying to keep me from running items on the blogs, primarily Inside Joplin, has numbered in the dozens.

Some threaten lawsuits when I am running information taken directly from public records. Others have offered to pay substantial sums, one even starting at $1,000. One, as Turner Report readers will recall did not try to stop me from running an item, but paid me a visit at my apartment after I used court documents to write about DWI and statutory sodomy charges against him and sent me to the Freeman emergency room with a well-placed punch.

I will be the first to tell you, I could have used the $1,000 (though I could do without the visits to my apartment). That being said, I will not accept any kind of bribe to keep public information off the blog.

There could be a number of reasons why the bribe offers and the threats have increased. Perhaps it is because people have grown used to public records not appearing in the media. With so many newspapers going out of business and others crippled to the point where they do not run the information any more, people get out of the habit of seeing that information made public. People who are not used to seeing that kind of information are quick to say that it's "private."

No, it is not.

It could also be that people will not accept seeing this kind of information on the internet.

Or it could be a societal failing, but it will take someone far more learned than I am to determine that.

For those who are considering offering a bribe to keep something out of the Turner Report/Inside Joplin, please don't. I am not going to put your name right at the top in bold letters, but I will print it, nothing more, nothing less, but I will print it.

Death of Neosho kindergarten teacher tops most visited posts

The top obituary this week on Inside Joplin Obituaries comes as no surprise.

The death of Neosho Benton Elementary kindergarten teacher Angel Hayes while performing crossing duty after school stunned the community. The story also placed in the top 10 most visited posts on both the Turner Report and Inside Joplin.

This week's list also includes four returning posts from previous weeks, including the number one post on Inside Joplin and three posts on the Jayda Kyle murder case on the Turner Report.

The posts and links to each of them are featured below:

The Turner Report

1. Webb City man with five DWIs charged with DWI, assault, leaving the scene of an accident

2. Transgender high school student files sex discrimination lawsuit against Joplin R-8, Ridder, Sachetta, Eggleston

3. Billy Long's auction call drawns out protester at Congressional hearing

4. New Carthage newspaper hits the streets

5. McPherson responds to Turner Report: Post was a "new low, even for you"

6. Judd McPherson warns people on enemies list: I have a large circle of very influential friends

7. Benton Elementary kindergarten teacher killed performing crossing duty, investigation continues

8. Judge approves motion granting Jalen Vaden attorney option to ask state to pay for litigation fees, expert witnesses

9. September 17 arraignment set for Joplin woman charged with heroin, cocaine trafficking

10. Search for Sarah Burton continues

Inside Joplin

1. Carthage Police searching for missing teen

2. Lamar man seriously injured as car goes airborne off 126, lands in creek

3. $50,000 bond set for Joplin man charged with felony resisting arrest, firearms charges

4. Carthage Police: Do you know these people?

5. Neosho teacher killed while doing crossing guard duty

6. Carthage woman injured crashing into bridge, trees

7. Motorcyclist killed in accident near Neosho

8. Joplin Fire Department rescues men who fell off cliff at Mother Nature's Crack

9. Joplin Police Department Holiday Weekend Arrests

10. Jasper County Dissolution of Marriage Petitions

Inside Joplin Obituaries

1. Angel Hayes

2. Diamond Bradley

3. Mike Whorlow

4. Richard Clemmons

5. Gail Bass

6. Burl Fast

7. David Thornton

8. Tom Sills

9. Jeff Nichols

10. Steven Carr


Steve Holmes said...

Randy, blackmail could be the small-town newspaper business model for the 21st Century. It's not what you put in but what you leave out. There's all sorts of dirty laundry in little burgs (remember the song "Harper Valley PTA"?) You'd do your best business by publishing Sunday morning, after the alleged offenders' booking info is there for you to see, but in time to keep the alleged offenders' from feeling the stares of disgust at church -- if they see things your way.

Anonymous said...

Yes, your morals have always been something the public has appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Randy, I was wondering why the Haley Ferguson story was pulled from The Turner Report?

Randy said...

I have a concern about the story. It will be reposted when and if the Crawford County Prosecuting Attorney files charges.