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South Carolina Paper Removes Columnist Muzzle: All Topics In Play

FeudThe embargo is lifted but will the hatchet be buried?  South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier and Ron Morris, a columnist for The State newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina have a well-documented feud.  Spurrier once refused to answer questions with Morris in the room.

This week, the blog reported that Morris had been banned from writing about Gamecocks football.  That report got picked up by media outlets around the country and now the newspaper has issued a clarification.  A memo went out to staff and Deadspin got a copy of it.  Here’s part of what it said.


“Please know this today: Ron Morris and other columnists at The State are free to pursue topics and stories as guided by their curiosity, their news judgment, their obligation to readers and our standards for quality journalism. No subject or individual is off limits for examination…

“Moving forward, all topics — including USC football — are in play. As always, this is a newspaper committed to accuracy, fairness and holding accountable the news makers and institutions that serve our community and our state.”


There you have it – “all topics — including USC football — are in play.”  Should be interesting when the columnist decides to aim his keyboard in the direction of Spurrier. And Spurrier’s reaction, as usual, is almost guaranteed to generate even more stories on the topic.


Gamecock in ATL
Gamecock in ATL

I'll be the first to admit that this entire saga has been handled in a childish manner by Spurrier. But for all the brouhaha about journalistic integrity with regards to free press and objective opinions (which I am all for), the 'press' side continues to ignore the aspects of journalistic integrity that include proper fact checking and source reliability. Though most of Morris' pieces are opinion columns (which typically, by definition, require neither), the piece that Spurrier chose to use as the lightning rod was loose with the facts. Call Spurrier a whiner all you want, but he was smart enough to wait until he had a legitimate item to blow up.

This website is quick to call Spurrier a baby (and fairly so), and quick to defend the field of journalism (why of course), but has been a bit silent on holding Morris' feet to the fire with regards to the truth. On many other topics (realignment anyone?) this site is quick to condemn sloppy journalism, but I've missed that same standard on this Spurrier/Morris/State paper thing (forgive me if I missed an article or statement to the contrary somewhere. I will admit that sometimes my garnet glasses filter such things out).


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