Marysville School Superintendent Diane Mankins is upset with the Journal-Tribune and we don’t understand.
On Monday, the newspaper ran an article about the proposed use of the former East School building for a new alternative high school for at-risk students in grades 9 through 12. The information for the story came from an email sent last Friday from Mankins to members of her staff.
The announcement was somewhat sketchy and gave rise to several questions about specific details. Our reporter made repeated attempts early Monday and throughout the morning to contact the superintendent and others on her staff to obtain further information and elicit comments from her to be used in the article. However all of our calls were to no avail, even after our reporter explained the purpose of his calls and left messages.
Among the questions our reporter wanted to ask were the following: Does the school intend to use the entire building? Would the Hope Center need to relocate? If so, when? What alternatives to the East School building did the superintendent look at? What is the cost of the proposal and would renovations need to be made?
The feeling of the newsroom was that the story should run even though none of the calls to school personnel were returned. It was an important issue because the Hope Center has a loyal following in the community. We knew a follow-up story would be needed to provide all the details that could not be obtained for the first article.
Mankins did call Monday afternoon, but by that time, the newspaper had been published with the alternative high school article. During this conversation with our reporter, she did not express any negative feelings about the article’s publication.
However Mankins called again Tuesday morning and blasted our reporter for running the story calling it irresponsible. She was extremely critical and abruptly hung up before the conversation was completed.
I can find no wrong in anything our newspaper staff did in printing the article. Actually, our reporter went the extra mile in repeatedly trying to give Mankins the opportunity to comment on the proposal. Not only was she rude and unprofessional in hanging up on the reporter, but also she had no basis for her criticism of the newspaper.
For the 113 years since my grandfather purchased the Union County Journal, the newspaper has always supported the Marysville School System and others in the area. My grandson represents the sixth generation of my family to attend school here. Our loyalty through the years is unquestioned.
Having said that, the newspaper covers school news the same as it does for city, county and other areas. Most of the time that news is positive, but sometimes it can raise questions and concerns. The article about the East School proposal is an example of that.
Had the superintendent returned any one of our reporter’s three phone calls to her or had allowed any of her staff members to return those calls Monday morning, the questions about the announcement would have been answered and added to Monday’s story. With each call, the first of which was at 7:40 a.m., a message was left stating that the article was running that day and explaining the urgency of the situation. Better yet, had the superintendent informed the newspaper last week when the email was sent and taken us into her confidence with all of the information, a complete report of the proposal would have been included in the first article.
As it turns out, the impact on the Hope Center reportedly will be minimal, and a follow-up article was published in Wednesday’s edition of the Journal-Tribune that addressed several of the questions unanswered in Monday’s story.
We hope that in the future, the superintendent will take more of an active role in the community and use a different approach to sensitive news releases of this sort by communicating with the newspaper prior to their announcement.
The taxpayers deserve that.
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