by Max Brantley
The Echo at UCA followed up an item we published a while back about how Allen Meadors, the college's new president, and another campus official had put thier names on a memo about swine flu that adopted almost word for word another university's memo. Our item, written by distinguished UCA grad Gerard Matthews, made it clear that the memo mentioned that it had drawn on other universities' messages. We wrote the item because faculty members complained about the lack of originality in the memo.
The new president? Well, he's gone to blaming the messenger.
Meadors said he thought it was kind for Grahn to send the letter to faculty and said because it was in the interest of safety for the faculty and the students on campus, it should be regarded as nothing more than a public health announcement and not controversial.
Both men said because the letter was never intended for publication, the issue raised by the Arkansas Times should be discarded as nothing more than irrelevant.
"He didn't claim to be the public health authority on that no more than what you see in residence halls and bathrooms all over America," Meadors said. "It's the same information."
Meadors said in his opinion it shows the unreliability of the Times.
"The Arkansas Times isn't famous for being factual, are they? They kind of operate like a blog," Meadors said.
UPDATE: I wrote earlier about my response to Meadors. We've talked and so I'll modify it some.
I think our brief accurately represented what had occurred and the strong feelings about same from the faculty. Major sin? No. I was interested as much as anything in the faculty sniping. There's a lot of healing to be done at UCA.
But as for press criticism:
1) The Times "isn't famous for being factual?" I think he'll find in a review of the record that the Times developed much of the early information that put in motion events that led to his becoming the president of UCA. I'm unaware that any of it was found not to be factual.
(I should add for Blog readers that Debra Hale Shelton of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette did most of the heavy lifting as the story developed over the months and has continued to do so. I anticipate with enthusiasm her coverage of the new man.)
2) We do operate "like a blog" -- meaning a non-stop source of reliable news and commentary on matters of importance to Arkansas. Blog is a form of operation, not an epithet. We take our work seriously. As Dr. Meadors does.
Onward and upward.