Ewing lashes out at Chart

Lynn M Ewing III, the newest appointee to Missouri Southern’s Board of Governors, used the majority of his remarks in his first meeting to criticize The Chart.

Ewing began by relating to the Board his thoughts on a Chart article that reported his appointment.

The article said, “Board Chairman Rod Anderson, when notified of the appointment Tuesday by The Chart, said ‘no comment’ and hung up.”

Ewing said he was concerned when he read that and discussed it with Anderson.

“I was disappointed to learn of at least the appearance of a lack of civility on the part of certain members of the press when dealing with the Board and it’s my hope that this will not be the case going forward when I’m on the Board and we can talk civilly and communicate openly,” he said while looking into the audience.

Ewing then expressed his displeasure with The Chart’s decision to run comments posted at thechartonline.com on the opinion page because they were anonymous and, he said, inaccurate.

He said he would be interested in knowing the identity of the person leaving a comment questioning his appointment.

“You have a right to free speech and to say anything you want, but put your name on it and be prepared to defend it,” he said. “The [Joplin] Globe doesn’t publish letters-to-the-editor without a signature, The Chart recites a similar letter-to-the-editors policy, but apparently it didn’t apply in this case to the publication of online posts so I would encourage The Chart to print real identities of those whose opinions it chooses to post.”

Carol Stark, editor of The Joplin Globe, told The Chart after the meeting that the student paper’s policy was not out of line with industry standards.

“We do it, The Kansas City Star does it, everyone does it,” she said. “Some readers don’t like that unsigned comments have been used, but unlike letters [to the editor] they are a slice of our Internet (publication) and don’t have the same credibility.”

Stark said The Globe’s new media editor, Dave Woods, writes a weekly column that includes online comments from the papers readers. Many of those are from readers who don’t choose to sign their names.

“They are pulled based on comments from the hot story or stories of the week,” she said. “It is a feature to encourage people to go online.”

Ewing then addressed a comment by Ben Hinkle on the same page that claimed “the composition of this Board is governed by 174.060 in Missouri Revised Statutes.”

Ewing said the statutes are actually 174.450 and 174.453, and he said Chart reporters should have looked up the statutes before printing Hinkle’s comment.

“Check your facts, check your facts and check your facts,” he said. “And when you are certain you have it right, check your facts again. If you print it, whether one of your staff wrote it or it appears in a letter to the editor or an online post, you are responsible as journalists for assuring that the facts stated there are accurate. And so I challenge you to challenge those inaccurate facts that are presented to you for publication. Check your facts.”