Parties and the press

By TERRY GANEY / The Jefferson City press corps has voted to give the Missouri Times until the end of March to clean up the news organization’s ethics mess or face the possibility of losing credentials to cover events in Missouri’s state capital. Ten representatives of wire service, print and broadcast news organizations met Monday to discuss the lobbyist-sponsored parties that Times’ publisher Scott Faughn had held for lawmakers at the newspaper’s office in Jefferson City. While some press corps members appeared ready to vote to take away the Times’ allocation of capital office and parking spaces, the group approved a motion giving it the chance to draft a newsroom policy of editorial independence as well as time to demonstrate that the lobbyist-sponsored parties were no longer taking place. Collin Reischman, the Times’ managing editor, told the group Faughn was not a journalist and was unschooled in ethics policies. And Reischman said Faughn was trying to hire a consultant to give advice on the development of a mission statement, an employee handbook and “best practices” that would prevent problems in the future.

Missouri film wins Chinese ‘Oscar’

A film that recounts the Joplin Globe’s coverage of the deadly tornado that devastated that southwestern Missouri city in May 2011 has won the China Academy Award for Documentary Film in the Foreign Language category. The Missouri film, “Deadline in Disaster,” beat competition that included a National Geographic project that focused on the decade of the 1980s and a BBC documentary on the history of the world.

Student paper at Webster University faces cuts

The longtime student newspaper at Webster University, the Journal, was facing an uncertain future this spring as the administration’s budget axe was about to swing. The weekly Journal, reporting on its own chances of survival, said its 30 issues a year might be cut to four or five in the 2015 budget, and the number of student staffers receiving pay could be cut from 10 to two. Some students and faculty believe the administration is upset over controversial stories the Journal has done, and one way of putting a clamp on the upstart newspaper is through the budget. But this is disputed by Webster’s public relations spokesman, Patrick Giblin.

Social media campaign by former Post-Dispatch writer alleges mistakes in series about mistakes

BY WILLIAM H. FREIVOGEL / The “Jailed by Mistake” project published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this past fall had all of the earmarks of enterprising journalism in the public interest. By the time the project went to press Oct. 27, the Post-Dispatch reported that 100 people had been arrested in error over the past seven years and had spent a collective 2,000 days in jail. But in the months since publication, a former Post-Dispatch editorial writer who went to work for St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay meticulously documented what he thinks were mistakes in the series about mistakes. The top Slay administration official, Eddie Roth, has gone about it in an unorthodox way: He has published a series of criticisms on his Facebook page that have run even longer than the original series.

Details lacking in TV coverage of bridge opening

A bridge! A bridge! Abridged? The recent opening of a new bridge over the Mississippi River at St. Louis got grand coverage from the city’s television news stations. Footage of the sparkling span dominated morning reports by Fox News Channel 2, KMOV Channel 4 and KSDK Channel 5 on the Friday before the official opening on Feb. 9. Cheerleading, in fact, was in top form as anchors and reporters gave testimony to an engineering achievement accomplished with admirable efficiency. It was a good story about civic progress. But the journalists’ day job – reporting – was noticeably, ah, abridged.

Reporters get ethics, law wrong in vacated murder sentence

When Ryan Ferguson was released from prison Nov. 12 where he had been serving time for the murder of a newspaper sports editor, television journalists from across the country swooped down on Columbia, Mo., home of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism. The big story provided a teaching moment for one professor, concerned about accuracy, media ethics and the appearance of objectivity. A lesson was to be learned, too, about convergence, and how an event can be transformed or amplified by the various forms of media buzzing around it.

Covering the St. Louis winter

This winter, the most-talked-about local news is the weather. It seems like every few days we have another storm of some type. This puts extra pressure on the local television stations who know that people are tuning in to see what it is going to do – and when.