Those were excerpts from an article I wrote for the Daily Universe in 1997. Other than using player stats as filler, that is pretty much all I wrote. ">

Those were excerpts from an article I wrote for the Daily Universe in 1997. Other than using player stats as filler, that is pretty much all I wrote. ">

Did Daily Herald Miss Basics of Ethical Reporting?

<b><i>"BYU football team standouts Ronney Jenkins and Omarr Morgan were recently suspended by the Honor Code office … Jenkins will miss all of the 1997 season and Morgan will sit out the first three games, according to BYU associate athletic director Val Hale."</i></b> <P> Those were excerpts from an article I wrote for the Daily Universe in 1997. Other than using player stats as filler, that is pretty much all I wrote.

Did I miss anything? Were there not enough details?

Here is the rest of my article: "Federal law prohibits disclosing the specifics of what violations the players engaged in, Hale said."

Guess there is nothing else left to know. Was I late in my reporting?

Well, at what point would you like to know the specifics of someone's honor code violation? Before the punishment is decided? After? How about never?

Oh, what lessons the Provo Daily Herald could learn from this one little article from a college student, especially in the way it has indirectly cast aspersions on the good name of Todd Watkins, an All-American wide receiver transfer, whom Dick Harmon from the Deseret Morning News reported yesterday is "completely in the clear" in an ongoing honor code investigation, according to a high ranking BYU official more than two weeks ago.

Should the Daily Herald be on the lookout for a legal reaction from Watkins? Expect a story later today or tomorrow on this developing story.

Jerry Whitehead, a retired Nevada judge and currently a fulltime civil mediator (handling state, national and international mediations), said this on TBS' message board yesterday: "I would like to thank TBS for the professional manner they have exhibited in this entire matter. I returned from out of town to read the last few days of posts, and I have increased respect for TBS and Dick Harmon.

"For some 14 years, I represented newspapers in libel suits (including USA Today) and, while they were not perfect, I do not believe that those papers would have exhibited the conduct of the PDH. I believe that PDH's conduct demonstrates who should have the (BYU press) credentials and who should not, Whitehead wrote.

The Herald has stepped in it good and wiped their feet, walking all over one player's good name, consciously or not. Regardless of the outcome, the Herald should tread more carefully. Ethically, they have a responsibility to do so.

BYU requires communications students, as I once was, to take a communications law course. We were taught the basics of who is and who isn't a public figure – and how difficult it is to successfully sue a media outlet. Based upon their recent reporting, it is possible the Provo Daily Herald forgot the former.

Back in the 90s, BYU's communications law course was taught by Jay Rush, whom I thought was kind of a dope. I can say that because it is my opinion and you can't get sued for your opinion. What qualifies as an opinion? An opinion is something that can't be proven as true or false. What I learned in that class was how to legally state my opinion that my teacher was a dope in public. Whew. I've been waiting eight years to do that.

Certainly, the Herald hasn't forgotten how difficult it is for them to lose a lawsuit. But if ever there was a Utah daily newspaper deserving of punitive action, they are it.

In the courts, free speech is sacrosanct. That is a very good thing, of course. This nation couldn't survive without its free speech protections. Shamefully for the media, the only time anyone questions how important our free speech rights are is when they take someone's reputation and impale it on a pike.

Despite everything the courts try to do to protect free speech, media outlets can stick their foot in their mouths just far enough for private citizens to get payback for getting shivved by a newspaper.

There has been some discussion whether or not BYU football players, allegedly embroiled in the current non-criminal, honor code violations, are public figures. They are NOT. If they were professional athletes, they would be. Amateur student athletes are not public figures and therefore have a much easier task proving defamation.

Harking back to my school daze, BYU journalism students were also required to take a communications ethics course as well. Back in the 90s, communications ethics was taught by Sherry Baker. She is a fabulous teacher, one of my favorites at BYU. She's right up there with Frank Fox and graduate assistant, Steve Jackson.

Maybe BYU should offer this as an extension for the Provo Daily Herald employees. Just for BYU's own protection.

Despite their ethical misconduct, all the Herald can do is pretend they are outraged in an editorial demanding BYU provide them with every last detail of someone's private business. Cover up? Darn right, there's a cover up. As of right now, it's none of anyone's business. Stop wondering. Stop contemplating. Stop posturing. Stop conjecturing. And, for crying out loud, stop publishing.

What cracks me up about this whole mess is I'm not even a professional journalist. I haven't taken a journalism course for seven years. And even I seem to demonstrate more knowledge than the Daily Herald. How is that possible?

I guess that doesn't surprise me too much. I was making more as the sports editor at the Daily Universe than a lot of Daily Herald employees. Despite the ribbing I just gave the Herald, I don't think this is a case where you get what you pay for.

Just because Provo Daily Herald employees may be underpaid does not explain the shoddy work they are producing. It's merely a disturbing change in their reporting philosophy – one that is already resulting in diminished credibility and fewer subscribers.

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