Archive for January 2009

Rep. Jones files omnibus bill

January 19, 2009

Rep. Tim Jones (R-Eureka) has filed an omnibus bill to strengthen Missouri’s open meetings and open records law, the Sunshine Law. House Bill 316, filed Jan. 15, contains several provisions, including requirements opening to the public most records and meetings of the Missouri Ethics Commission. The bill specifies that investigative reports prepared by Ethics Commission staff would be closed records until a decision is made by the commission regarding the complaint under investigation. If the commission would decide to dismiss the complaint, reports related to the complain would continue to be closed records. All meetings of the commission would be open, except for closed meetings when the commission deliberates a complaint. Rep. Jones gathered a bipartisan group of 18 co-sponsors for the bill. The co-sponsors include Rep. David Sater (R-Cassville), Rep. Mark Parkinson (R-St. Charles), Rep. Kenny Jones (R-Clarksburg), Rep. Jeff Grisamore (R-Lee’s Summit), Rep. Gayle Kingery (R-Poplar Bluff), Rep. Rodney Schad (R-Versailles), Rep. Walt Bivins (R-St. Louis), Rep. Shane Schoeller (R-Willard), Rep. Mike Talboy (D-Kansas City), Rep. Mary Still (D-Columbia), Rep. Jake Zimmerman (D-Olivette), Rep. John Burnett (D-Kansas City), Rep. Dwight Scharnhorst (R- Ballwin), Rep. Doug Funderburk (R-St. Peters), Rep. Tim Meadows (D-Imperial), Rep. Mike Corcoran (D-St. Ann), Rep. Rachel Storch (D-St. Louis) and Rep. Ron Casey (D-Crystal City). Among House Bill 316’s provisions, the proposal: 1. Requires most records and meetings of the Missouri Ethics Commission to be open. 2. Specifies that an association is covered by the Sunshine Law if it receives public funding through dues paid by a public governmental body or its members. 3. Defines “public meeting” to include any gathering of newly elected members of a public governmental body who have not formally taken office, but are meeting to discuss public business, with or without current members of the body, when a quorum is present. 4. Requires a notice to the public of a meeting to be extended from 24 hours’ advance notice to five days’ advance notice when the public governmental body would be considering or voting on a fee or tax increase, eminent domain, zoning, transportation development district or tax increment financing issue. 5. Defines the term “cause of action” in an exemption to the law as when “a lawsuit has been filed, regardless of whether service of process has been completed, or correspondence from a party to the body stating that litigation shall be filed unless certain demands are met.” 6. Limits persons attending closed meetings of a public governmental body to members, their attorneys, staff members and any necessary witnesses. 7. Requires data-processing programs used by state and local governments to allow for copying data easily accessed by software programs commonly available to the public. 8. Requires reasonable attorney fees be paid to a party successfully seeking disclosure of an investigative report compiled by law enforcement. — Missouri Press Association

Trustees even in hard times

January 13, 2009

by Ken Newton
Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Joseph Charless knew a trade and understood the problems of a start-up business. He also knew about causing a ruckus.

Mr. Charless fled Ireland in 1795 as rebellion took hold, and he settled in America, first in Philadelphia, then in Kentucky and finally in St. Louis of the Louisiana Territory. A printer, he established the first newspaper west of the Mississippi River in 1808, the Missouri Gazette.

According to the State Historical Society of Missouri, Mr. Charless contended with “shortages of paper, unpaid subscriptions and irregularities in mail service.” But he also stirred up the local populace with his anti-slavery sentiments. A subsequent newspaper in St. Louis, the Western Journal, countered with the anti-abolitionist writings of Thomas Hart Benton, an oak-hard character who once shot Andrew Jackson in a duel.

These newspapers came into being before Missouri got statehood, a squabbling and illuminating addition to the frontier landscape.

Missouri newspapering arrives in its third century with some problems heading forward and a documentary looking back. The hour-long program, “Trustee for the Public: 200 Years of Missouri Newspapers,” airs Thursday at 8 p.m., on KCPT (Channel 21 on St. Joseph Cablevision).

The documentary notes writers who worked for state newspapers before broader renown. Ernest Hemingway credited his time at the Kansas City Star as tutelage for the crisp language that would become his trademark. Eugene Field, who labored for the St. Joseph Gazette and took a bride in this city, used the experiences here in his later poetry.

Samuel Clemens worked as a “printer’s devil” at the newspaper in Hannibal, apprenticing as a typesetter but, “surreptitiously and uninvited,” editing the paper from the back shop. Nearly six decades later, known to the world as Mark Twain, he wrote to the hometown paper, “I hope the Courier will long survive me and remain always prosperous.”

One hundred and two years after this letter, the Hannibal Courier-Post indeed survives.

The documentary includes this story without dwelling on the well-known. Rather, the program, with origins in a Missouri Press Association oral history endeavor, focuses on smaller experiences — street corner hawking, press breakdowns, journalism teaching — that add to a fuller view of an industry built daily.

Newspapers find themselves now on shaky ground. They face economic problems in a world of warp-speed information and changing consumer demands.

The nation’s largest publications land too often in their own headlines, usually in strife with creditors. Smaller journals work to stay an essential part of lives caught in news cycles briefer than a yawn.

What remains unchanged in the upheaval is the newspaper’s role in a free society. Publications still perform watchdog roles, still follow the public’s money through a maze of governments, still supply depth and perspective to the day’s issues.

At this newspaper, founded just 37 years after Mr. Charless’ Gazette, earnest souls work in the continuum of reporters who covered the Pony Express, the killing of Jesse James, the Greenlease kidnapping and any of thousands of historical moments preserved in first-draft form.

The word “trustees” proves instructive. It implies a faith, in this case between newspapers and their readers. And 200 years of history suggest the relationship endures even in tough times.

x x x

Ken Newton’s column runs in the St. Joseph News-Press on Tuesday and Sunday.

Veterans organization honors journalists from Sedalia, Boonville

January 6, 2009

Two Missouri journalists received first-place national awards in September for their efforts to highlight veterans.
The national organization of the 40&8 held its 89th convention in Orlando with more than 500 delegates present. Newspapers from across the country submitted 59 entries in the awards competition.
For the third consecutive year, Latisha Koetting of The Sedalia Democrat took first place in daily newspapers for cities under 40,000 population.
Theresa Krebs, editor of BDN (Boonville Daily News), took first place for towns under 12,000 population.

Tucker named AP Staffer of the Year

January 6, 2009

KANSAS CITY (AP) — Doug Tucker, the longtime Associated Press sports writer based in Kansas City, was named the news cooperative’s Fred Moen Kansas-Missouri Staffer of the Year on Dec. 8.
Tucker, 62, joined the AP as a newsman in Oklahoma City in 1969. He has covered news and sports in the Kansas City area since the early 1970s, eventually settling in as AP’s lead sports writer covering the array of college and professional teams making news in the region.
Tucker has been a fixture at press boxes from Kansas State and Kansas to Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums in Kansas City. His byline has topped most of the area’s biggest sports stories of the past year, including Kansas’ run to the NCAA basketball championship.
The award was established by The Kansas City Star in honor of the late Fred Moen, AP’s Kansas City bureau chief from 1971-1984.

Obit – Mary James

January 6, 2009

Funeral services were held on Monday, January 5, for Mrs. Mary James. The wife of Bill James,  publisher of the Daily Star-Journal in Warrensburg and former MPA President, passed away Friday morning, January 2, 2009.

Mrs. James, daughter of Mrs. Wanda A. Brown of Harrisonville, had been battling pancreatic cancer for many months.

Mrs. James served as a member and as President of the University of Missouri Board of Curators.  Her family has been prominent in Missouri newspapers.

Her father, the late J. W. Brown, Jr., and her mother were co-publishers of the Cass County Democrat-Missourian in Harrisonville.   Her father served as MPA President in 1963.

Mrs. James was First Lady of the Missouri Press Association in 1998, the year her husband served as President of MPA.

Visitation and a memorial service were held immediately following the service at the Harrisonville United Methodist Church in Harrisonville.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to:
Mary L. James Scholarship Endowment in the College of Education – University of Missouri-Columbia
c/o Rose Porter
114 Hill Hall
Columbia, MO 65211

Kansas City Hospice House
12000 Wornall Road
Kansas City, MO 64145

Obit – Wayne Leeman

January 6, 2009

Wayne Leeman, 93, St. Louis, a news employee of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for 46 years, died Nov. 5, 2008.
Mr. Leeman’s work included serving as outstate news editor.
He is survived by his wife, Carolyn; a daughter and four sons.

Obit – Keith Wilkinson

January 6, 2009

Keith Wilkinson, 82, Warrensburg, the father of Gallatin Publisher Darryl Wilkinson, died Nov. 28, 2008, at the Kansas City Hospice House and Palliative Care Center.
Survivors include his wife of 61 years, Dorothy; two daughters, his son, a sister, a brother, 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.