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Athens, Ohio, United States
"Art and love are the same thing. It's the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you."

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Post Grows a Pair

I think it is about time to return to my Journalism-mud-slinging roots.

As I have previously documented, I would count myself as more of a fan of the Athens News than the Post, but when there are props to be given, I must dish them out, regardless of preference (one of my grandmother's oldest sayings: "dish out them props, boyyyyy!"). And today, the Post has earned some props.

One of my biggest issues with the Post is its perceived independence. Its editorial policy says it is run completely independently of the University and even has a sub-header that reads "The Independent Voice on Campus and in Athens (italics added by yours truly)" but I have always had a hard time believing that. Maybe its the fact that its headquarters are located in the student center, maybe it is the fact that professors and University figures frequently contribute editorials, or maybe it is because I just stereotypically view student journalists as less aggressive than professionals, but I have always felt The Post has treated the bureaucracy with mittens instead of gauntlets.

Then I saw today's front page.

Today's front page of the Post seemed to be specifically constructed for skeptics like me. Usually on Thursdays I grab the end of the week edition of the Athens News, but today I grabbed the Post instead, wanting a lighter, quicker read before enduring Health 202. The sight that met me when I picked the rag up was my University's current president's smiling mug. But poor Roderick McDavis (if you shorten his name to "Roddy" from "Roderick" he really sounds like a made up alias) wouldn't be smiling if he knew the text next to him read "UNPRECEDENTED RAISE." 

This wasn't necessarily news; I have been reading about Roddy Mac's salary bump since Pre-college. It was the graphics below it that revealed the true newsworthy item. Several Presidents and executives of higher learning institutions across the country have been either refusing their pay-raises or re-investing the money back into the school. The front page graphic even produces an eclectic and diverse list of a few men (and only one woman) who have done exactly that. The awkward presentation of the McDavis graphic robs the story of some impact, but the message that the Post wants to present is present non-the-less. 

Is it fair? That is certainly to be debated. I certainly feel that both Roderick McDavis and the Post are in the right. McDavis can do whatever he pleases with his money (and I am not so sure that it would ever occur to me to give a raise back to my place of employment if it were struggling) and the Post can also point out to Athens that "hey, it doesn't have to be that way." You can tell argue that a front page, above the fold spectacle wasn't the right medium to present this information but I admire the gumption. If you are going to present controversial information that might rub the higher-ups the wrong way, why not scream it loud and proud on the front page?

Also on the front page was an article about the lack of females on OUPD staff, an article about the revitalization of the wild bobcat population and an article about Indiana Point Guard Armon Bassett transferring to Ohio's men's basketball team. I can definitely live with a front page like that. As a matter of fact, if I were running a newspaper (a big if, admittedly) I would like to structure all of my front pages like the Post structured this one. You have two hard-hitting, and potentially controversial journalistic pieces, one light and fluffy piece for the kids and a sports story. 

It must be said also, that the quality of the articles for the most part matched their high concepts. I generally enjoyed the OUPD article especially the pull-quote ABOVE the headline that read "I'm sorry, here, but one officer is pure tokenism." It takes some courage to even publish the word "token" in a periodical. I thought the story about the bobcats was great (did you know that bobcats are completely solitary creatures? I knew I picked this school for a reason!) And the Armon Bassett story handled his transfer just right: describing his arrival and not down-playing his previous transgressions while allowing him a chance to confront some of the allegations against him.

Well done, Post, I am finally willing to acknowledge that you aren't Ohio University's puppet.

Some one hand me an A-News now.


Cassie The Venomous said...

Ha-ha! The Post. Yea, the office is definitely right down the hall from the ACRN studio in Baker, but I never see anyone go in nor do I see them come out. Apparently, they go in, and don't leave-- EVER, those silly Postians.

Frank Thomas said...

Frank Thomas here. I wrote the McDavis story. Thank you for your praise, but you should know that we are, in fact, independent of OU. We rent our newsroom from the university. Only 5 percent of our $500,000 annual budget comes from them, and even that relatively small amount goes directly to subsidizing, not completely financing, the salaries of our business and advertising managers. The rest comes from our own advertising sales.
As for our history of dealing with the university... check out these stories.

I hope you will reconsider your opinion of us.

A.G.B said...

Thank you for taking the time to visit my little corner of the internet, Frank and congratulations on an excellent article.

I am quite fond of the Post actually, and I think that all the publications in Athens are considerably above what is par for the course when it comes to print Journalism.

I do enjoy poking a little fun at your publication every now and then, although I do stand corrected on the topic of the Post's funding.

Again, thanks for the visit!

Cassie The Venomous said...


curiousgab said...

I dont recall your grandmother's quote about props. Nice assessment of front page of Post!