Friday, April 19, 2013

Articles in The Concordian written about me

I'm trying to think of the last time people submitted pieces to The Concordian that were about me. From 2005-2008, they were a semi-regular occurrence. I was on the staff again in 2009, but I don't think anything was written that semester.

I'm not sure when the last piece that directly mentioned me was printed, but I know the last article that indirectly was about me was in March 2010 when Liston Pennington wrote something about how if all you can do is complain about The Concordian then all you'll probably wind up doing with your life is managing a pizza place or something like that. He wrote it back when I worked at Pizza Hut.

The last time I believe I was mentioned by name was when Natasha Cline wrote a reply to a piece I wrote about joining a fraternity and sorority in 2008. To show how long ago this was, we messaged each other a little bit about the article on MySpace. Another memorable article from that time was Bruce Tedder defending then-SGA President Wes Prince after I wrote a piece asking him to resign.

So, it was fun to see my name getting thrown back out there. The first piece is a letter submitted by Wesley McKinney, an athlete. I've never met him. It's well-written in the sense that it's in nice sentences and good grammar. He seems like a smart guy. He's just not looking at things objectively. He's an athlete, so of course he's going to get upset when I make fun of athletics. I don't know if he gets that the issue is with scholarship money being cut for non-athletic students while money for athletes has risen a disturbing amount. To make the point I'm trying to make, you kind of have to make fun of somebody. That "somebody" in this instance is the athletics program at Concord.

The second piece is by Scott Noble, the Editor-in-Chief of The Concordian. I didn't know Scott before he became Editor of the paper and we talked a little bit last semester. I don't think I've seen him since December. He poked his head briefly into the SGA meeting this week and was standing near me, but he was talking to somebody else and then quickly left.

One thing that I've noticed about Scott's writing style is that it is very personal. He writes about writing. One of his pieces will say something similar to "As I sit here writing this" or something along those lines. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. He kind of does that here and I think it works this time.

What Scott actually does is print his apology email to Kevin Garrett, the Athletics Director. It's kind of a neat idea. Instead of writing something to Coach Garrett and then writing something for the paper, he kills two birds with one stone and gets more mileage out of his one piece.

He comes off as being a little too sorry, if that makes sense. I don't want to call it a PR piece, but that's what it seems like. What I did wasn't that bad. In fact, I don't think it was bad at all. I really hope Scott doesn't feel as bad about this as he comes across sounding like.

Wesley's piece is first, followed by Scott's. If you have any comments or concerns about them, feel free to leave a comment either here or on Facebook.

If you haven't read my April Fools article that caused both of these letters, click here to check it out.

* * *

Wesley McKinney, student-athlete 

In my time at Concord, I have heard people complain about the content in The Concordian and I noticed in my first couple years at the school the newspaper struggled to produce accurate news. However, in the last year or so The Concordian has been turned around and I enjoy reading the newspaper not only to keep up campus happenings but also sometimes to get story ideas for WVCU, the campus radio station. I give complete credit to editor-in-chief for publishing more consistent news over the last two or three semesters.

But the latest edition of The Concordian published on April 3 crossed the line and more specificially the article about Concord athletics being cut from NCAA ties stepped out of bounds more than any other story in the "April Fool's" issue. I recognize the fact that the newspaper printed a disclaimer saying stories printed on the first two pages of the paper were false and were for humorous purposes only.

However, the story quoted Concord Director of Athletics Kevin Garett several times, which is libelous and also defamation of Coach Garrett's character. Knowing Coach Garrett personally, I can't imagine at all he said anything printed in the article. While I do not have exact statistics to back up my claim, Coach Garrett has done phenomenal things for the athletic department in his brief tenure as athletic director. Garrett has put the "student" back in student athlete and as assembled one of the more successful athletic programs in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Even though the article is supposedly fictious, there's no need to attack Coach Garret and Concord athletics in manner that Chris Slater did.

Also, to quote Coach Garrett saying Concord can't compete on a national level is outrageous. During the 2011-2012 academic school year, the Mountain Lions produced four All-Americans and the football team made the NCAA Division II playoffs.

Once again, I understand this article is meant to be funny and humorous, but it definitely did not come off that way. I believe the author, Chris Slater, was trying to attack Concord athletics with this article.

I’m truly disappointed in Mr. Slater, the editor-in-chief of the Concordian and the staff advisor of the newspaper for allowing this article to be published. While I have nothing to do with The Concordian, I am indeed a Communications major and I feel like this article is a misrepresentation of our department and a handful of people are at fault for producing this non-sense.

As a student-athlete at this institution, I am outraged at the fact that our athletics has been attacked and I'm asking the appropriate people apologize to Coach Garrett, coaches at Concord and current student-athletes for defaming our athletes in a disturbing manner.

* * *

Scott Noble, Editor-in-Chief of The Concordian 

Coach Garrett,

I just left a fairly spirited staff meeting and part of that "spirited" conversation was in regard to the article in our April Fools section. When we decided to run it as is, some of us had concerns as to how it would be received. Well, those concerns have come to fruition. I received a letter from a concerned peer, Wes McKinney who was indeed offended by the piece and in the next issue, I will respond to his comments. I understand the author of the article has a tendency to stir the pot, but since it was a parody, I signed off on running it. Maybe it is my age, but at the time the ridiculous nature of the humor outweighed the real world impact. The numbers in the article are accurate to my knowledge and also (to my knowledge) any quotes attributed to you are completely fabricated. One would think they were something no reasonable person would find plausible. Apparently, that became a topic of discussion today as well. I am hoping not only to diffuse a misconception regarding budgets, but to hopefully repair the damage (though unintended) my decision to run this story has caused.

I believe the impetus for the "story" was borne of the budgetary grousing about how much money goes into Wes' letter. In my response to Wes' letter, I will point out this is not an exception but the norm in many institutions of higher learning. I recently read a Time magazine article regarding athletic budgets and it did point out (via USA Today) that out of 227 Division one schools that participate in athletics, only 22 are self-sufficient. Also, when people gripe about money going to something they have no interest in, they need to realize even though they man never read one issue if the Concordian, part of their fees go toward printing it.

I am a bit more pragmatic about how money is spent since I did have some experience with some "unusual looking" budgetary issues while in the Air Force, so the numbers in the article did not alarm me at all. I suppose it goes back to an adage that says sometimes it takes money to breed success and from what I have personally witnessed in my time at Concord, the money has been well spent.

Additionally, many people do not realize the hours of work athletes must put in on the courts, roads, and fields that go hand-in-hand with their academic responsibilities (along with the visibility they bring to the school). The dedication to academics can be as demanding as two a day practices and I do understand and appreciate that. Case in point, at a recent SAC event, there was a mass exodus of the crowd and as it turned out, it was our athletes going to a mandatory study hall.

In the end, I cannot take back the printing the article, but I do hope I can erode some of the bad feelings if may have caused. Its sole intent was humor and only humor. Finally, I want to extend my apologies for a decision I made that may have upset you, your staff, and the athletics of Concord University. Like I said before, our intent was humor and it seems that intent did not meet my expectations. Ultimately, I am responsible for what goes in the paper and since I am here to learn above all else, I will take this as a learning experience. As I write this, e-mail, I am thinking this may be the appropriate response to Wes' letter.

I will be by next week to drop a copy of our next issue to you, and I hope you will allow me to personally apologize for more than likely being the cause of a bad day. I respect and value the relationship I have forged with your department and personnel and I hope this in some small way, affords some degree of repair. Thank you for your time and consideration and if you feel it is appropriate, please feel free to forward it to your entire staff in the athletic department.

* * *

So, there's that. One good thing that can hopefully come out of things like this is getting more eyes reading The Concordian and potentially getting more involvement in the letters to the editor section. If you think I'm full of shit about what I wrote, submit something. If you think Wes and Scott overreacted, send your thoughts to the newspaper. If it outrages you that the President of this university has applied to another school, write a letter about it. Anything is fodder for a letter.

Send letters to the editor to concordian[at]concord.edu with something resembling "letter to the editor" in the subject line. The next issue will likely print May 1, so get emails in by no later than April 29. If any of this information is wrong, somebody on the staff please correct me.

Students of Concord, you pay for The Concordian. If you don't think it's interesting, make it interesting by submitting something to be printed. I did, and look what happened.

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