This entry originally appeared in The Beaumont Enterprise.
Dr. Carrol A. “Butch” Thomas, Superintendent of the Beaumont Independent School District, has a bone to pick with “biased members of the media” in this week’s installment of BISD’s kinda-sorta-but-not-really-weekly newsletter, One Vision.
In this latest nugget of wisdom, Dr. Thomas blasts the media for covering negative aspects of the school district. He says, “Yes, a typical week in the news for BISD includes front page and prime time on anything negative that goes on in this district of 20,000 students and more than 3,000 employees.”
Well, we agree with him so far. A typical week in the news for BISD is usually pretty harsh. But then again, a week without a BISD scandal would be like…a…uhm…like a…er… Well, I’m sure it’d be like something that probably exists somewhere in the universe but that nobody can ever actually prove exists, even if they’d really quite like to. Like room temperature superconductors. Or unicorns.
Dr. Thomas goes on to fuss about the recent coverage of Mike Getz being cited at the last school board meeting, calling the topic a “month old one-sided debate about an advisory committee meeting…” that is amongst “…stories of interest to a few.”
A few? Apparently, 15% of Beaumont’s registered voters are “a few” people to Dr. Thomas.
The bulk of the T-Note attempts to contrast all of the recent bad press by listing BISD’s recent accomplishments. Dr. Thomas wants the public to know about things like BISD gaining a superior rating from TEA for its finances, that its libraries gained a half-million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Education and that the Paul A. Brown Center was awarded a $300,000 grant to improve student achievement. “Butch” always seems eager to brag about how much free money the district pulls in as a way to gauge its success. What he doesn’t ever seem to talk about very much is where all that money goes, though…
He wraps things up with a little whine about how the big bad media picks on BISD. “Unfortunately, these and other achievements are stories that don’t particularly interest many of the media who are more focused on manufacturing and making the news instead of covering the news.”
Yes, it was the media who made Clifton Guillory drive “drunker than Cooter Brown.” The media cited Mike Getz for reading a newspaper editorial and had him ejected from the last board meeting. It must have been the media who forced BISD’s purchasing agent to file bankruptcy. It was probably even the media who caused two BISD school bus accidents today. That evil, “biased” media is always to blame!
Dr. Thomas complains that, “…what you haven’t seen or heard much about in the local media are any of the great stories of achievement that many media outlets want to ignore or downplay,” and goes on to suggest that it’s the responsibility of BISD employees to spread the good word. “That’s why it’s up to you, our ambassadors in residence – the employees of BISD – to tell the rest of the story or stories about a typical week in BISD.”
So, what should be the job of the Public Relations department is placed squarely upon the shoulders of every BISD employee. This doesn’t seem to be working out too well though, as it’s usually BISD employees who send us all this “negative” news.
It’s the media’s job to show the truth to the public.
It’s the media who find out what’s been swept under the rug, and who opens the closet to find the skeletons you might be hiding.
It is not the media’s responsibility to praise a school district for doing its job. That’s what Public Relations departments and highly-paid staff members with fancy acronyms after their names are for. You know, like APR.
You do have a PR department, don’t you, BISD?
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