Confession: I have made hundreds of errors in judgment as a reporter in my 35-year career.
It comes with the turf. Journalists, after all, are human and fallible. I am certainly both – human and fallible. Some might even take it further and add “dumb” to my resume’. I have deserved that as well at times.
Having said that, I don’t think I have ever done anything as tasteless and egregious, as a journalist, as what I saw in the Opelika-Auburn newspaper Sunday morning.
In case you missed it, they printed a picture of Laquon Treadwell’s horrific injury in full view with the headline of “Finding A Way.”
Poor taste redefined.
Poor judgment personified.
Ole Miss fans were livid. Even their own readers – Auburn fans – were shaking their heads in disbelief.
The editor? Well, let’s just call it insult to injury, as he defended their “right” to publish that garbage. What a sad argument/stance, hiding behind constitutional rights. That can only be defined as arrogance and a disgrace to my profession.
An apology would have gone a long way. Americans are normally forgiving people, but there was none of that. Just arrogance.
Well, it wasn’t lost on one Ross Bjork, the athletics director at Ole Miss. He wrote them a scathing letter to the editor. In case you missed it, keep reading.
I applaud Ross. He did what he is charged to do – defend Ole Miss and her student-athletes. Not many ADs have that type of backbone in this politically correct world we live in. Bjork does. Bravo.
To the editor of the Opelika-Auburn newspaper:
After careful thought and consideration, I feel compelled to write to express my disappointment in the way you reported the outcome of the Auburn vs. Ole Miss game. Specifically, the way you sensationalized a moment with a grossly depicted image that affects a young man’s life. Furthermore, your response to criticism from readers could be described as nothing short of digging your heels in. Quite simply and most disappointing, you showed no signs of remorse for the incredible lapse of judgment.
We run our athletics department with a well-defined purpose, and we operate daily using seven core values to guide us. Together, those core values comprise our “line in the sand,” and we will defend them when attacked. It is our belief that your actions are at odds with two of those core values: Student-Athlete Welfare and Social Responsibility. So, it is for that reason that I have written to you.
In closing, we know of no other newspaper that has used such a graphic image of a student-athlete’s injury in such a sensationalist way and we sincerely hope you have not created a precedent for this type of crass journalism.
Director of Athletics
University of Mississippi
There’s not much to add to that.
Give ‘em hell, Ross. They deserve it.
Bjork Fires Back
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