Tulsa World: February 2004 Archives

Stan Geiger sent along an interesting e-mail exchange between himself and Ken Neal, editorial page editor of the Tulsa Whirled. With Stan's permission, I reprint it below. It is illuminating. It has to do with Omer Gillham, the Whirled reporter who covered recent scandals surrounding administrators at Tulsa Community College over retention bonuses and false attendance figures. For a change it appeared the Whirled was actually engaged in afflicting the comfortable.

Gillham has been reassigned to cover Tar Creek. Stan Geiger asked Ken Neal about the reason for the reassignment, and wondered if there was pressure applied to get Gillham away from covering education.

Geiger makes an important point: The experience Omer Gillham gained while digging into TCC's mess could be used to uncover similar problems elsewhere in public education. It takes time to learn who to talk to, what records to ask for, and what to look for in the records. You don't just open the board's minute book and see a meeting transcript like this:

College President Loombucket: "Gentlemen, I have a cunning plan to make all of us millionaires at taxpayer's expense."

Other board members (singing): "We're in the money! We're in the money!"

Loombucket (gleefully rubbing hands together): "Buwahahahahaha!"

An investigative reporter has to learn how to spot patterns in the public records and spot where the records don't make sense. An ordinary-looking invoice might stand out like a smoking gun to an experienced reporter. Now, instead of leveraging that experience, the Whirled seems to be discarding it. Maybe the Beacon could take him on.

Ken Neal says that he doesn't share Stan's "generally sour outlook on education". This is interesting: Someone who cares enough about the quality of education to expose mismanagement and worse is labelled sour on education, while someone who is willing to overlook problems, take official pronouncements at face value, and tolerate an educational system that doesn't serve the students, considers himself pro-education.

Read the whole exchange by following the link:

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This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa World category from February 2004.

Tulsa World: November 2004 is the next archive.

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