December 28, 2006

TIME OUT: "As Told to"

Today, The PITCH published an article called, "You Can't Go Back: That and Other Lessons Learned By Locals in 2006."
Ben Paynter wrote the piece in an "as told to" style (I don't know if that's what its called -- its just what I'm calling it). I like this approach because it draws on the section technique of which I'm a huge fan. As a traditionalist, I was uncomfortable in that the style employs a single introduction attribution and eliminates quotation marks.
However, the streamlined style won me over in how easily it allows subjects tell the story in their own words. It also created a change in the byline (in the print edition but not in the online version) The byline reads: "As told to Ben Paynter"
I'm totally going to steal this approach.

My shirt reads: "Trust Me, I'm a Reporter."
-Photo by Angela C. Bond
Miguel Morales, 39, reporter for the Johnson County Community College Campus Ledger and author of articles about a sexual harassment scandal that forced the resignation of JCCC President Charles Carlsen
I probably broke the biggest story of my career while still in college. At the time, I was kind of freaking out. I thought somebody was trying to set me up. Or, if it's true, I'm in way over my head.
I had a meeting with the president, and I basically dropped the bomb. I said, "There's these allegations — did you do it?" And he says, "No," and he turns all shades of red.
Did I print the victim's name? Yeah, I did. I said, "I'm going to use your name, so what do I need to do to protect you?"
The college had this big investigation that cost half a million dollars. It's very corny, but one person really can make a difference. It's not that people have ethics or they don't have ethics.
It's just, they don't always follow them. And then, pretty soon, they're sliding down the slope where they are doing all kinds of crazy things.

The JCCC Board of Trustees recently announced that the college is going to build this $300,000 scholarship in the name of Carlsen. He's trying to buy his way back into our college.
The good ol' boy network is still deeply entrenched at the college. There are professors who have tenure who say they're not going to speak because their classes will be reassigned. They can still get to people.
I don't know if I want to be in a traditional newsroom. I'm thinking of creating a local newspaper that's only online. With today's media, you don't just have to find your place — you can create it.

December 21, 2006

TIME OUT: Takin' a Leak

I've gotta commend the guys at The Sports Blog. They post sports material that non-sporties (like me) find interesting and provide content for the sports savvy.

A Dec. 14 post does an excellent job examining how information leaks and national security affect sports reporting.

Dare I say that I'm ... an athletic supporter?

December 8, 2006

TIME OUT: Readers really do respond!

I haven't offered coaching lessons on this blog for a while. I've simply been trying to document major events in the evolution/revolution on my campus. I'll make more of an effort to do share coaching tips since this whole experience is like an intensive Master's level course.
The letter below is part of the reason for the refocus on coaching. It is one of many actions taking place on campus that doesn't get covered in the local media or even in our campus news. It also serves as a reminder that when we report and investigate with ethics and integrity, readers will respond.
I don't know if many stories inspire people to put their jobs on the line by writting such a letter. But I do know its because of letters like this that I will continue. I'll also try to report these types of actions along with the grossly overt ones.

December 6, 2006

Board of Trustees
Johnson County Community College
Overland Park, KS

Dear Trustees:

This letter is in regards to the recent public statement of support for Dr. Carlsen by a group of highly influential members of our community. The statement has created more anguish on campus, and I believe is detrimental to the process of moving forward. I hope after reading this correspondence, the Board will take quick action to continue moving us in the right direction. I am amazed and disappointed that members of our community appear to want to downplay the seriousness of the allegations regarding sexual misconduct. Certainly no individual would want their wife, daughter, mother or sister subjected to the alleged behavior. Everything I have read leads me to believe that multiple allegations of this nature are not reported unless truth to those allegations is undeniable.
The Board’s decision to release a public statement acknowledging multiple allegations were reported to the law firm of Badger & Levings was an appropriate manner to send a message that you believe the sincerity of these complaints, and more importantly, you understand the hurt these women felt and continue to feel. Asking the community to now continue recognizing Dr. Carlsen serves only to delay the healing these employees need and deserve.
The statement of support for Dr. Carlsen also seeks to recognize his leadership over the last 25 years. Certainly, Dr. Carlsen’s positive qualities need to be recognized. I believe naming a major building on campus after him accomplished this. He performed in the job he was hired for. We must also recognize that Dr. Carlsen did not accomplish any of this by himself. Demographic trends during his tenure, combined with supportive taxpayers, were major forces at play. The hundreds of competent employees serving the college during this period should also be recognized as well as the college’s generous financial support from private individuals.
One of the many reasons Dr. Tyree’s style has been embraced by the overwhelming majority of current JCCC staff and faculty is his relentless recognition of individuals’ accomplishments. I am sure his experience as a leader has taught him that the level of success accomplished by an organization like JCCC requires a team effort. Recognition of that team effort would be a positive force in moving this college in a new direction.
Lastly, I encourage the Board to make available to the public the rest of the information you received in verbal reports from Badger & Levings. A major concern on campus is that the information you received in closed door sessions over a twenty plus hour time period is about a lot more than allegations of sexual misconduct. The main concern is that the sexual allegations are just a symptom of a larger problem. That problem is simply the internal culture on campus.
I am under the impression that some Board members have been told from multiple sources that many of us believe a culture of intimidation and bullying exists on this campus. Most individuals are afraid to be more open about their concerns out of fear of retaliation, and quite frankly, a statement of support by highly influential and well connected community leaders adds to those fears.
Only the Board knows the full truth as to what Badger & Levings reported. You must decide whether it is in the best interests of our community to share the information. I encourage you to share all of the information. This action will help facilitate the structural, organizational and policy changes necessary for JCCC to achieve our Mission and live within our stated values. Dr. Tyree’s short tenure has provided a sense of hope and promise. His openness and integrity are values our next president must possess.

Thank you for your time.


Frank Syracuse
Professor of Economics Johnson County Community College

cc:JCCC Faculty & Staff
Steve Rose
Melodie Hall Blobaum
Miquel Morales

December 3, 2006

Carlsen's Cronies

In response to my column "Carlsen's Enchanted Evening," (below) former Johnson Countians of the Year wrote a letter to the community, Nov 29.

Steve Rose, of The Johnson County Sun, served as spokesman for the group and as a source for the story. I can't begin to describe the layers of cronyism, the breach of ethics and the lack of integrity this letter and those associated with it symbolize.

Here's the letter, read it and puke ...
Dr. Charles Carlsen served as president of the Johnson County Community College for twenty-five years. He brought vision and leadership to JCCC during his tenure. As a result, the college is now universally acclaimed as one of the finest community colleges in the United States.
We have supported the college for many years. We watched in admiration as Dr. Carlsen led the college to one successful and innovative venture after another.
When Dr. Carlsen came to JCCC, its foundation had less than $100,000 in assets. During his tenure as president, the foundation's assets increased to more than $20 million. Dr. Carlsen's tireless fundraising efforts generated scholarships for literally thousands of students.
In 2003, under Dr. Carlsen's leadership, JCCC received the Kansas Award for Excellence. This award, which is granted only after an exhaustive review of the institution, confirmed that the college was providing outstanding instruction for its students and a vibrant work environment for its employees.
Dr. Carlsen broke new ground by fostering many partnerships between the college and businesses. The training partnership he formed between the college and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad has been described as one of the most innovative in the nation. The National Academy of Railroad Sciences now provides training for more than 14,000 students each year and adds $14 million annually to the area's economy.
It is just as important to us that Dr. Carlsen and Linda gave thousands of hours of volunteer service to many organizations in this area. Chuck and Linda Carlsen are the kind of people who make this a wonderful area in which to work and live.
We are very pleased that members of the board of trustees are focusing on their most important task: the selection of a new college president. We want the Johnson County Community College to remain one of the most important institutions of higher education in the region. We pledge our continued support in achieving that worthy goal.

Dick Bond
Ben Craig
William H. Dunn Sr.
Ed Eilert
SuEllen Fried
Walt Hiersteiner
Drue Jennings
Betty Keim
George and Floriene Lieberman
Dr. Bob Meneilly
Elaine and Norman Polsky
Bob Regnier
Shirley Rose
Steve Rose
James P. Sunderland