The four local television stations had plenty of news to work with Monday and their newscasts were eminently watchable.
KOAM blanketed the story on the reaction to the revelation of Monsignor Stephen Schneider's forced resignation from St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Joplin. Unfortunately, the story was this area's first exposure to the nationwide scandal of priests having sex with children. This is the kind of story that can easily become lurid and sensationalistic, and KOAM spending nearly the first five minutes of its 6 p.m. newscast on the subject teetered on the edge of overkill, but did not cross it.
Anne Bassett provided the main story in hard-hitting fashion, while Jennifer Denman offered a sidebar with a psychologist examining how parishioners can deal with this kind of traumatic announcement.
All three stations offered responsible coverage, noting quickly and prominently that the incident in question happened years ago and did not happen in Joplin.
KSN offered a telephone interview with Bishop John J Leibrecht, while KODE's Shannon Bruffett, as usual, offered concise, no-nonsense coverage of Monsignor Schneider's dismissal.
Only KOAM led with the parish story at 6, while the other local stations led with fires in Kansas. It is hard to fault any of the stations for their choices.
A third option, the death of Joplin native Dennis Weaver, was pushed back a story or two on KODE and KSNF, and was nearly at the conclusion of the newscast for KOAM. It could be argued that this was the top news story of the day for the area, given Weaver's prominence on television and in the movies, his work for the environment during his later years and the fact that he has maintained contact with his home area over the years.
KFJX also played the local stories prominently during its 9 p.m. newscast.
On the newspaper front, backers of the Joplin Globe and Joplin Daily had another opportunity to vent their spite at each other over the coverage of Mr. Weaver's death.
The Globe was the first local newspaper to break the story, picking up the story from national news, but it offered little of local perspective on its website. Hopefully, that will be addressed in today's print and web versions.
Daily Editor John Hacker, as usual, jumped all over the story, with a series of interviews with locals and former locals who knew Mr. Weaver. It was an impressive amount of work in just a few hours. Particularly impressive was his landing an interview with former Neosho resident Jacqueline Scott, an actress who graced television series through the 1960s and 1970s, standing out as Richard Kimble's sister in David Janssen's 1964-67 series, "The Fugitive," and in a number of guest-starring roles on Mr. Weaver's "Gunsmoke" series.
Joplin Globe reporter Andy Ostmeyer offered a professional, well-written story on Mr. Weaver's death, complete with local interviews, but Hacker's article offered a depth that was lacking in the Globe article.