Koehler's story in the News-Leader reveals what happens when adults think they're in charge of college journalists.
Koehler discovered that a story in the student newspaper at Ozarks Technical Community College had been spiked by the president of the school's board of trustees.
The story in The Eagle was supposed to be about six candidates coming in to interview for the president's post at OTC. Eagle reporters sent a questionnaire to the six candidates and almost immediately ran into hassles with the OTC board.
Board President Jackie McKinsey wrote to the candidates, telling them to ignore the questionnaire because the questions were "clearly inappropriate at this time."
Three of six replied anyway.
This week, McKinsey ordered the story killed, then lamely told Koehler that there was "nothing bad in the questions." The problem, McKinsey claimed, was that the student journalists "were out doing their own thing." And besides, McKinsey added, journalists should not be asking questions of the candidates; the trustees should.
From Koehler's story:
McKinsey said she didn't think the message had a chilling effect on the student reporters or was an attempt at censorship.
She said she was advised by the board's search committee consultant, Don Hunter of Hockaday, Hunter & Associates of North Carolina, that the candidates not answer the questionnaire.
"A candidate asked (Hunter) if the questions were board-sanctioned questions. (Hunter) said they were not appropriate for them to answer a month before they came here," McKinsey said.
McKinsey said she asked Hunter whether there was an "issue of the freedom of the press, and he said, 'No.'"
Sorry, Jackie. This one's all your fault.