Coaching staff incidents highlight need for transparent university

Withholding information from a journalist is the quickest way to get on the wrong end of a profanity-laden tirade.

However, I’m of the opinion that sensibility trumps shouting nine times out of 10.

That doesn’t mean any of my anger regarding the incidents involving the Gannon University football coaching staff has diminished.

My displeasure, however, has nothing to do with the actual events that left one coach fired and two more facing fines but everything to do with the approach the university took in relaying the information to The Knight.

After learning of the Oct. 16 incident, I found myself working my way around the athletic department seeking answers and, while no one was particularly forthcoming with anything other than the company line, I was satisfied with the manner in which they responded, and I was led to believe the next time I talked to Coach Jim Kiernan it’d be strictly about football.

Turns out, I was uninformed.

Unbeknownst to me, another incident happened only days earlier, but not a word was mentioned about it in my previous visit down the Carneval Athletic Pavilion.

Fortunately, I was able to find out in time to add information about the second incident to the story before deadline. Unfortunately, the lack of disclosure made me feel like a disenfranchised journalist.

It seems as though someone was hoping we’d pull the wool over our own eyes.

Employee rights left some information understandably unattainable. However, there is a difference between privacy and secrecy, with the latter – more often than not – leaving a bad taste in people’s mouths.

I couldn’t justify why the university chose to stay as quiet as a Nash Library study room on the issue.

We were going to find out about it. The story hit printing presses everywhere from the Erie Times-News to the Denver Post and many more small-town newspapers in between.

We were going to run a front-page story about it. It didn’t matter if it was last week, this week or the first issue after Christmas break.

The playing field between journalists and organizations is a garden planted with seeds of reluctance, necessity and mistrust and any momentary breach of trust only adds fertilizer to an already thriving crop.

In a perfect world, we would’ve been the first to know.

Forget the Erie Times-News. Forget the Tribune-Review.

We have the ability to print the truth while at the same time dispelling rumors and maintaining an air of transparency between the students and staff.

Believe me; we don’t like printing embarrassing Gannon news because at the end of the day, it’s our school too. But our first obligation – one we take seriously – is to relay the news around campus accurately in a timely manner.

The Knight is a newspaper put together by aspiring journalists, not a public relations vehicle.

We should be treated like one.


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