Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Yes, that could apply to so many this week. But I'm specifically calling out the managing editor of the Community Free Press, Mert Seaton. In the latest edition (April 11-24) the lead article is by Ryan Cooper, the MSU student trouble-maker who asked two (2) Greenwood parents about sex offenders on the MSU campus. You know that story.

(Side note--I wish those who are up in arms about registered sex offenders on campus would explain which of the possible six (6) they're upset about. According to the Missouri Highway Patrol's database, three registered sex offenders list MSU as their school address and three list it as their work address. Cooper focused on one professor, as did the university, and pretty much all the critics. Odds are you're working with or very near a registered sex offender and probably have been for some time.)

Back to the Community Free Press. In an "Editor's Note" next to Cooper's story on the front page, Seaton claims the CFP had no intention of running Cooper's story until after an MSU news release identified Cooper as writing the story for the CFP. Seaton goes on to state:

We have not published the names of any registered sex offenders on campus. As journalists, we seek to inform the public while minimizing harm. We wish that other media outlets would follow our example.
On page 8 "Guest Columnist" Pat Nolan begins his column "MSU Follows Wrong Approach to Sex Offenders" with this:
Dr. Michael Hendrix has ample reason to ask when castigation will end.

Hendrix committed a sex offense more than 20 years ago, served his time, and registered as an offender. Hendrix has not re-offended and takes proactive measures to treat his addiction.
So managing editor Mert Seaton lied in print. The Community Free Press HAS published the name of a registered sex offender on campus, a mere seven pages after Seaton claims it has not.

As a journalist, I'm offended by Seaton's sanctimonious tone and hypocrisy. The Community Free Press lost credibility with this edition. Of course, failing to label the column by that rabble-rousing radio jerk or letters to the editor as "Viewpoints" means there wasn't much credibility to begin with.