Thursday, April 13, 2006


Steve Koehler of the News-Leader is Thursday's Mr. Bad-Ass.

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.'"
McKinsey -- a normally gracious human -- didn't even display enough sense to admit that she was wrong to spike the story. She told Koehler that The Eagle bears some responsibility: "Part was my fault, part was theirs."

Sorry, Jackie. This one's all your fault.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, student journalists don't get a lot of support in the courts, so universities feel they can get away with this stuff.

It never ceases to amaze me how cavalier citizens are about the freedoms they say they're willing to let [other people's] sons die for.

Anonymous said...

The real question here may concern Jackie M ... she seems like a lovely person, but what exactly are her qualifications to preside over the OTC board in the first place? This is where Mr. Koehler should be going ...

Anonymous said...

Brain King will get the job,,,,
notice he answered the questions AFTER news leader contacted him.
He is home boy and has good pr instincts. Also his wife makes good tv watching.

So, we'll get a panty waisted PHD as president after all!

Anonymous said...

If the student editor truly had balls (and the ability to recognize that by exercising them along with his First Amendment rights he'd surely earn the attention and admiration of future employers,) then he'd run not just McKinsey's spew of bullshit in his paper, but the candidate responses as well. Nothing like being fired by the president of the board of trustees to burnish one's reputation as a courageous student journalist.

Anonymous said...

News-Leader gets it right on this issue. I'd take my hat off out of respect, but I'm not currently wearing one.

Anonymous said...

Maybe OTC's students need to publish their own paper, outside of the auspices of the Lords of the Technical College.