The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

July 14, 2012

Carol Stark: Journalists skip participating for good reason

This past week I had to fill out a questionnaire in which I was asked how many community projects I had participated in or led.

The answer was pretty short. Journalists don’t participate. They report. And it’s hard to report if you’re personally involved. While the newspaper as an institution is involved in supporting all types of causes in the Joplin area, we in the newsroom must separate ourselves from our co-workers in other departments when it comes to being active in heading up events.

This past week I also was asked to sit on a board. I had to explain that I can’t do that, especially in the case of entities receiving taxpayer money. The same goes for the rest of the newsroom staff.

We don’t post political campaign signs in our yard, slap bumper stickers supporting candidates on our cars, sign petitions or make campaign contributions. OK, even if we could, we probably wouldn’t make campaign contributions because we are usually broke.

All of this makes perfect sense to me because it’s the life I’ve lived for 37 years. But I fear it doesn’t make sense to the community and in fact might make us seem like uncaring, ivory tower sorts who don’t care about the towns where we live.

Full disclosure. A few years ago, I decided I might be able to serve on the Friends of Kellogg Lake board. The primary function of the board was largely focused on helping the annual Kid’s Fishing Day, as well as planting trees and flowers in the park and making a few maintenance decisions.

After a year, I turned in my resignation. When I attended meetings, I found myself worrying more about possible conflicts of interest than the interest of Kellogg Lake Park. Lesson learned. If I couldn’t participate fully and openly, then I knew it just wasn’t a good idea.

I have inadvertently made some good sources angry by declining their invitations to help or allow my staff to help with a project, especially a project where money is changing hands.

What if, in the course of the event, money is found to be missing? That becomes a story. It would look pretty bad if a member of the Globe’s newsroom had been working on the project.

The reply back is always the same. Most people think something like that would never happen and are insulted that it crosses my mind so quickly. Fact is, it happens rather frequently. We know — we’re the ones who write the story.

From the outside looking in, I imagine we appear to be uncaring.

Nothing could be further from the truth. We bleed red just like anyone else. Only on rare occasions can we let it show. The May 22, 2011, tornado was one of those exceptions, largely because so many people at the Globe lost their homes and belongings. One lost his life. We were no longer just observers of life, but certainly we continued to be reporters.

Photographers, reporters, editors — none of us will ever win popularity contests, nor should we if we are doing our job. In fact, a recent survey listed being a journalist as one of the worst jobs a person could have.

That’s where I strongly disagree.

The people in my newsroom did not choose their careers lightly. They knew ahead of time what they would have to give up, although I don’t know if they realized just how hard the sacrifice would be. It doesn’t make them heroes, or special or elitists.

It makes them journalists.

Carol Stark is editor of The Joplin Globe. Address correspondence to her, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802 or email cstark@joplinglobe.com. Follow Carol Stark on Twitter @carolstark30.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Other Views Other Views: Eroding court’s authority

    While Kansans were focused on the twists and turns of school finance this past week, lawmakers made an unnecessary and historic change in how the state’s district courts operate, coercively tying the reforms to badly needed funding.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Your View: Travesty

    What a travesty that a terrific young man from Spain is on the verge of deportation even though he has proven his worth in America (Globe, April 13).

    April 18, 2014

  • Your View: Astonishing transformation

    The transformation of the Republican Party in the last decade is astonishing.

    April 18, 2014

  • Your View: The changing view

    It is heartbreaking to hear the decades old trees (which border on South Pennsylvania in Webb City) cracking and being bulldozed down.

    April 18, 2014

  • Our View.jpg Our View: Safe and sound

    Of the 7,500 Joplin and Duenweg homes hit by the 2011 EF-5 tornado, fewer than 20 percent of them had basements.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Other Views Other Views: Funding for state’s roads

    Missouri is finding there is no good alternative to growing the economy, adding new well-paying jobs and expanding the tax base.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Geoff Caldwell, columnist: Government without apology or explanation

    Americans feel closest to their Uncle Sam at this time of year as he extends his hand for his “fair share” to fund his numerous endeavors.

    April 16, 2014

  • Your View: Step aside

    The people of Joplin made it clear they wanted change at City Hall with their decisive votes to replace two council members.

    April 16, 2014

  • Your View: Serious drawbacks

    Joan Banks’ guest column (Globe, April 13) lays out clearly and persuasively the serious drawbacks with so-called right-to-work legislation.

    April 16, 2014

  • Your View: Free choice

    Joan Banks’ guest column (Globe, April 13) regarding right-to-work seems to assume that if workers are given the choice of joining a union, they won’t join.

    April 16, 2014

Local News
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Poll

A Missouri Senate committee has endorsed a 1-cent sales tax increase to fund transportation projects. The proposed constitutional amendment passed the House earlier this month. If passed by the full Senate, the measure would head to the November ballot for voter approval. Would you vote in favor of it?

Yes.
No.
     View Results
Facebook
NDN Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case
Sports