Wednesday, April 04, 2007

NOT ALL THAT'S PASSED IS PAST

We've slagged the daily newspaper in this space. But despite all the hot air about the Information Center, not all sucks at the News-Leader.

Veteran reporter Steve Koehler delivers a great story in Wednesday's News-Leader about Michael Hendrix, an associate professor at Missouri State University. A long time ago, Hendrix molested a boy and went to prison. His employer knew his history and treated Hendrix appropriately -- neither the heavy hand nor the blow-off.

But last Friday, a person claiming to be a reporter for the Community Free Press pigeonholed parents outside Greenwood Laboratory School and asked their opinions of the "sex offender on campus."

Koehler's interview with Hendrix is a great read, and it's compelling journalism. Way to go, SRK.

(The online version of Koehler's story includes reader comments, and one person unfortunately chose to parrot a falsehood about child molesters -- that they're very likely to commit new crimes. That's simply not true, according to the Department of Justice.)

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes, Koehler is one of the few remaining reporters who doesn't need a map to find his way from home to the News-Leader office.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to trust someone who's molested children in the past, that they won't do it again. It's just that creepy of a crime.

Anonymous said...

Koehler's allegedly "great story," which is touted here as "a great read, and it's compelling journalism," has a huge hole.

Who, exactly, was the student/professional reporter that stirred things up by asking questions of the Greenwood parents? Does this person have a name? (For that matter, does his/her "professional" employer have a name? Chatter says it's the Community Free Press, but Koehler's story refers only to an unnamed "local weekly newspaper." Who says it's the CFP?)

Professor Hendrix's comments in the Koehler story are interesting, and Hendrix's personal story overall has no winners.

But where in Koehler's piece is the voice of the "inquiring reporter" who chose to scare the Greenwood parents, and whose reckless approach and questionable ethics landed this on the front page of the daily? Was any effort made to track him down for comment? Barring that, was any effort made to ask Breck Langsford (CFP Publisher) for comment on his "journalist's" actions?

You call this compelling journalism? That could only be so in the context of the News-Leader, where an incomplete story like this, written by a longtime writer, outshines the transcribed press releases typed into the paper by "reporters" of lesser tenure.

RON DAVIS said...

Anon 208: Compelling enough to get you to type five grafs.

Koehler's story is a great read. I believe Koehler is likely to follow up on why the Community Free Press (MSU's news release identifies the weekly by name) decided Hendrix was a story, and why its reporter chose this questionable tactic.

You have a point: Koehler's piece shines especially bright when compared to the current typing being done on Boonville Avenue.

Anonymous said...

There was nothing terribly compelling about Koehler's story, Ron. What was compelling was your rush to praise a weak effort by a guy who could have, and should have, done better for the News-Leader. Don't get the two confused.

Anonymous said...

Just so you know... we couldn't confirm who the student was last night since the school didn't release the name and was incorrect in its news release in identifying him as a working journalist. If the story wasn't compelling that was my fault. I have the student identified and quoted for Thursday's edition plus a lot of other good stuff...Hope it's compelling enough for you.
Koehler

Anonymous said...

Why should you have to rely on the school to release the student's name so that you could confirm his identity? And since when should an inaccurate news release by the school serve as an insurmountable roadblock to your reporting?

If you were simply up against a deadline and out of time, that's one thing, and it's understandable. Some days the clock wins.

But the explanation above suggests you were content to have the school slam the door in your face, and just left it at that. Hopefully, as a seasoned reporter, you tried other means that we didn't get to read about.

I'll look forward to tomorrow's promised fuller account, assuming TV doesn't beat you with it later tonight...

Anonymous said...

You'll be waiting a long time for TV on this. Tell me when you see it on the screen. TV won't touch this story. Takes too much leg work...I wouldn't use the name unless it's confirmed by a source that knows, an official source. Unlike the loose rules of blogdom, journalism deals in facts confirmed and reconfirmed. We don't post anonymously or use sources that won't go on the record with their name. That opens the door to mistakes and incorrect information. I'd rather be right that first any day.
Blogdom is a Web site saying John Edwards is dropping out of the presidential race.
Journalism is the Walter Reed series in the WP.
No contest.
If you think I would run the student's name based on some other source, than you do really know aqbout journalism and how it works.
But that's OK. I'm sure you're willing to learn.
KOEHLER

Anonymous said...

To your credit, Mr. Koehler, today's story filled the hole. And congratulations for scooping the other news organizations in town that also carry video cameras.

Indeed, I would be willing to learn at least one thing: What were you trying to communicate in the last three sentences of your most recent post? Maybe a copy editor could have helped you get your point across in a clearer way.