Tuesday, January 31, 2012

KSU Criminal Court: Why No Follow Up?

On January 6, Kent State student reporter Doug Brown reported how KSU was planning to name its basketball court after a guy who had paid millions in fines to the Securities and Exchange Commission for defrauding his customers.   Doug Brown reports in the Daily Kent Stater, (Jason M.) "Cope was the branch manager of a financial firm that defrauded 190 investors of $8.7 million in late 1999 and early 2000."

Cope was going to donate a million bucks to Kent State and Kent State would name its basketball arena after him.   With Brown's story coming out, Cope changed his mind and withdrew his donation.

But what's missing from the initial story and has yet to be followed up is why did the Kent State Board of Trustees approve this?   What did athletic director Joel Nielsen tell the Board?   Did the Board know of Cope's background?   If so, why would it think it's a good idea in light of our current economic history to name the basketball court after someone who had to pay millions in fines to the SEC?  If Nielsen failed to tell the Board, how can the Board possibly overlook such a monumental mistake?

Have I missed something?   Has the Record Courier closed?   Is the Akron Beacon Journal shut down?  Is the student television station at KSU not wanting to do great interviews with Board members?   Maybe my checks missed a story by the Courier or the Beacon Journal or TV2; if so, please send the URL and I will post and apologize.  

Or because this is athletically related, is this a sacred cow?   Sports commentator Bruce Hooley was fired from his job after criticizing Ohio State, and he tells a compelling story you can click and see here about the Columbus media.   It took Sports Illustrated, not the local reporters, to tell the story of Jim Tressel's long history of NCAA violations. 

The country has suffered a financial meltdown.   Occupy Wall Street calls for financial reform.   Northeastern Ohio has been severely hit by the recession, and Kent State thinks it's ok to name the basketball arena after someone who defrauds customers?   And the Board was told what by Nielsen?  Why do you suppose such an incredibly obvious follow up story is not being done?   Anyone having information, please contact me.  kidsvoog@kent.edu    Thank you.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Press Fails to Ask a Basic Question

One simple question every presidential candidate should be asked:  Are you in favor of free market capitalism where when businesses make incredibly bad decisions they pay the price or are you in favor of the current system of crony capitalism where when businesses make incredibly bad decisions they come to the government for a taxpayer bailout and then give themselves bonuses at taxpayer expense?

Given our recent economic history and continuing economic struggles, why do you suppose the so-called reporters at the debates fail to ask such a basic question?

Obama has certainly made his answer is clear.   He's in favor of crony capitalism.   He put the people who helped create the problem in charge of maintaining the same broken system that will certainly fail again since nothing's been corrected.   Neither Romney nor Gingrich appears to be concerned with a broken system; they seem to support crony capitalism.   But that's not a totally fair statement because the reporters have failed to ask the basic question.   Is the candidate in favor of free-market capitalism?  If the answer is yes, then the follow-up question is what specific corrective actions will the candidate immediately take?  If the answer is no, if instead the candidate is in favor of crony capitalism, nobody will be surprised except with the honesty of the answer.   But it's impossible to get answers when the national press fails to ask the question.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bill Moyers Does It Again

He asks the questions and examines the issue reporters in every market should have been addressing for years.   His guests for the premier show, Winner-Take-All Politics authors Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, have done a superb piece of work. 

Class warfare?   The war has been fought and the top tenth of the top one per cent won a long time ago.   The question for any news organization is why it would play human microphone stand for the Mitt Romney narrative saying the Obama Administration wants a culture of dependence.  Why have so many reporters stopped asking for evidence?

My son was just arguing there should be an intelligence test for voters.  A good place for any citizen to start would be to read Hacker and Pierson's book, a book that should be mandatory reading for any reporter.

When journalism fails bad things happen.   And the reason the top tenth of the top one per cent have been able to do whatever they want with impunity is because journalism failed.   Journalists stopped doing accountability journalism.   Journalists stopped doing what journalists are supposed to do.  It's no surprise; bad things happened.   It's time for a change.   It's time for all journalists to do what Moyers has always done, ask the questions that need to be asked.   It's time for all journalists to once again do accountability journalism.  

Monday, January 9, 2012

Great Student Journalists

To check out some first-rate student reporting keep watching what gets posted on the Campus Coverage Project (full disclosure - I participated in this project).

IRE along with the Education Writers Association  and the Student Press Law Center (funding from the Lumina Foundation) just completed an intensive workshop for some of the best student journalists in the country.   The goal is simple, to help these student journalists do what journalists are supposed to do:  accountability journalism.

Student after student talked about the problems of getting universities to turn over public records and the difficulty of getting university administrators to talk.   Why do you suppose so many university administrators don't seem to understand the concept of public records?   But one thing students certainly learned at this conference was to always report on university officials who won't talk and to always report on university officials who refuse to obey public records law.