Thursday, July 26, 2012

LSC Roundup 7-26

Women’s Track & Field Tied For Second in the Nation With 11 All-Academic Honorees - ASU Track

Sometimes a fan must also be a journalist - Brad Keith, Stephenville Empire Tribune

It's funny how people learn in different ways.

I'm an example guy - let me see the process you're teaching me in action, then I'll get it.  Since deciding to pursue communications and journalism in college at Tarleton State University, I've been taught that personal opinions must be left at the door and facts must be presented in such an industry.  I was taught it well. Heck, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist turned college instructor even tried to beat it into my thick, stubborn skull.

But when one of my most respected mentors almost broke down in front of her staff while explaining a lack of judgement on her part and how it would be corrected and avoided in the future, the lesson stuck.  Empire-Tribune editor Sara Vanden Berge knows all too well what it's like writing and editing the news in a small town where she is often acquaintances, friends even, with the subjects of particular stories. Such a situation had her in a pickle recently, but she learned from it, and as she addressed the issue with her staff, she unknowingly provided the best lesson in journalism this sports writer has ever received. Not because others hadn't taught it, but because I finally got it.

I am a big fan of Tarleton basketball. Men and women. Love it. Can't get enough of it. Ask anyone who sits close to me on press row what I say every year at the first Tarleton men's home game, and they'll tell you.  It always goes something like this: "I love my job and Tarleton basketball is one of the biggest reasons why!"  Or, more simply: "This is why I'm here!"

As a young boy, my father, 1975 Tarleton alumnus Robert Keith, started taking me to Texan basketball games. We were instantly enthralled by the university's exciting, and at the time still new, basketball coach.
As years have gone by, enthrallment turned to admiration. I admire what Lonn Reisman has done for Tarleton, and I admire the positive differences he's made in the lives of so many young men.

If there is a person who has done more than Reisman to promote Tarleton in a positive, winning fashion, somebody please introduce me because I sure haven't met him.  I want Reisman to win not one, but two, three, seven, 10 national titles at Tarleton. I'll take 100 if he's willing to coach that long.

But it's not just about winning. Reisman and his rigid program have produced attorneys, firefighters, coaches, pro basketball players and others who have gone on to countless different professional fields.
Lonn Reisman has been great for Tarleton State University since I was old enough to understand what a university was.

I'm a fan. A big fan. And I've been accused of being soft because of it.  I admit I relished the opportunity to keep my name as far away as possible from recent stories of alleged criminal activity by two former Tarleton basketball players. I wanted nothing to do with it. The fan inside me didn't even want to believe it.

But I was being a basketball fan. I was not upholding my duty to this newspaper or this community because I was not truly being a journalist.

Fast forward to this week, to the moment I finally received the confirmation I needed to publish a story concerning some of Tarleton's new basketball recruits.  The Texans signed two very talented individuals, as depicted by a story published on the sports page of the Wednesday E-T. I wish the story stopped there. In the past, I probably would have stopped it there.

But we're not in the past, and I'm not doing Tarleton basketball or any customers of this newspaper any favors by not disclosing the full story. As people read news articles, questions surface in their minds. Often, when I look back at stories about prized recruits, that question is, "Why aren't they at a Division I school?"  Not answering such questions often raises bigger ones, such as, "What are they hiding?"

The answers to such questions are often simple. Playing time is the most common reason an athlete isn't at Division I. Either he/she wants more of it so they leave a DI, or they weren't ever going to get it at that level so they sign with lower-level programs to begin with. Sometimes, however, it goes further, venturing into areas I'm honestly not comfortable reporting. But each of us have aspects of our job they aren't comfortable with.

There wasn't a comfortable bone in my body as I re-hashed criminal charges faced by two of Tarleton's talented new recruits. I squirmed in my seat, I was even restless in bed Tuesday night.  But facts are facts, and hiding them isn't the game we play here. Even when those facts may hurt someone, or some program, we want so badly to see succeed.

I love Tarleton basketball and I can't wait for the new season in November. Every bone in my body would be quite comfortable writing about a national championship won by our beloved Texans, or even our TexAnns.

When that day comes - and I believe it will - such a story deserves to be penned by a journalist.

Not just some fan.

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