Sunday’s Columbia papers ran stories that had nothing to do with the citizens of central Missouri and, I believe, seem to be only fillers in our two papers. Yes, the Missourian is now calling itself “hyper-local,” which may be why I cannot get a copy outside of city limits. The Tribune seems to think about the news, but I usually buy the Post-Dispatch for business and political news in Missouri.
There were two stories concerning this state that were not reported in either paper.
The first I found on AOL News, which in turn lead me to the Aspen Daily News. Sprint vice president of corporate brand marketing Tom Murphy, 45 of Kansas City, was killed when according to AOL News a “boulder the size of a cooler” hit his car. The accident happened on Colorado State Highway 82 between Aspen and Glenwood Springs, about one mile north of Snowmass Canyon. Murphy and his family were starting their trip home after vacationing in Aspen.
Troy Hooper, editor and writer for the Aspen Daily News told me in a telephone interview that the story was picked up by the Associated Press. A quick search found the story in more than 30 newspapers and television stations outside of Colorado and KC. However, the Missourian and the Tribune did not run the story.
Why is this story important to those living in the middle of Middle America? First, a large number of us also take vacations in Colorado or Utah. We drive from the Show-Me State or rent a car in Denver or Colorado Springs to drive into the hills. Most drive as if they were in central Missouri on I-70 cruising toward their destination. After 25 years, five months and 22 days living in Denver, I can say that you must be very aware of the “Falling Rocks” signs on Colorado highways.
Second, Murphy’s death will affect Sprint PCS, a Kansas City metro business and its customers in central Missouri. This is a local issue.
The second story was in Sunday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch, front page above the fold. State Sen. Jeff Smith, D-St. Louis, was apparently under federal investigation concerning his 2004 campaign for U.S. Congress. The complaint, filed by then candidate and now Rep. Russ Carnahan, involved a flier that contained “false and malicious information intended to deceive potential voters and evade proper federal disclosures,” according to the Post-Dispatch. The investigation was closed due to the lack of evidence and the investigation of another man.
The story also reported that rumors that Smith was a target in a voter fraud case are not true, according to the FBI.
Now Smith is discussing leaving the senate mid-term.
Columbians were left blissfully ignorant of the situation.
My regular readers know my disdain for how Missouri legislators conduct their business. The contention between the Republicans and Democrats is like watching the Hatfields and McCoys in a face off across the Big Sandy River. It is a good thing that weapons are not allowed under the Gray Dome.
This story has more to do with ethics in Missouri’s – and by extension the United States’ – political arena. I am not advocating that our elected and appointed officials live in a glass house and maintain a cloistered life of purity. Political fights, however, should be more than an unruly feud but more like a Golden Gloves boxing match. No punching below the belt, no “rabbit punches,” break when the referee says break, no cheating or lying and shake hands before and after the match. To maintain a true representative democracy, cooperation is key.
Our newspapers are small. Too many believe they are not worth the price of admission. The Internet, television and radio have the advantage. However, the newspaper allows for a deeper investigation of a story, allows for a diversity of opinion and provides the reasoning why these stories are important to their readers. At least they should.
As readers, you need to demand that our papers report on those stories that deal with central Missouri. Stories concerning local, state and federal politics. About local, state and national business how these stories affect central Missouri. Isn’t that what a newspaper is meant to do?
David Rosman is an award winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. He welcomes your comments at ProfDave1011@netscape.net.