Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tennessean Coverage About TSU Updates


Since the Tennessee Tribune ran the “Boogie Man Stalks TSU” in its March 25 issue, the media on Broadway ran an editorial on Sunday, April 4. The headline read “TSU not in danger of losing accreditation”. It was written by Dr. Johnson to Tennessean’s readers. Many of you have read similar letters to the community in the Tennessee Tribune earlier. The space was used to address how the Tennessean reported on TSU’s accreditation reaffirmation process. Dr. Wheelan’s letter addressed to the Tennessean, which was first published in the Tennessee Tribune, was reprinted as well. Three weeks after the glaring headlines, the Tennessean’s readers read the letter that was addressed to the publisher and editor. A brief paragraph in the Editor’s note states:


The Tennessean regrets any undue concerns raised by our coverage of the accreditation process and the headline that appeared with that coverage.

I am from Mississippi and how things are done in Tennessee is still foreign to me. In my neck of the woods, when you are wrong, you say “I am wrong” (in print). In Tennessee, when folks are wrong, they say, I “regret” which has a different connotation. God help y’all. Allowing the President of a school to write an editorial after your paper’s headlines have run off half of its student body is note worthy but that is small potatoes when you compare the damage that has been done. The letter from the Tennessean to the President of the Tennessee State University National Alumni Association (TSUNAA) gives a slightly different perspective and addresses some of the outrage felt by the entire Nashville community.

The letter dated March 24, 2010 to Mr. Leon Stephens, President of TSUNAA, the editor, writes “Let me begin by apologizing for upsetting you and other members of the Tennessee State University for our story that ran on March 11th”. He also admits “an error in the story” that was corrected the next day. This letter was worthy of news coverage or on the editorial page of the Tennessean and should have been posted boldly on it’s website for all the folks who breathe hate and damnation on TSU could read it. When I contacted Mr. Stephens about the correspondence from Broadway’s media, he expressed surprised that he was the only person at TSU sent a letter regarding TSU’s accreditation issues written about in the Tennessean. “I contacted the Tennessean as the President of the TSUNAA, because I could not ignore the sensationalism of the story headline,” stated Mr. Stephens.

The letter to the President of TSUNAA addresses the headline but the main subject was about the number of folks that were/are upset. Let’s not play crazy, upset folks cancel subscriptions. It appears that some showed out with Broadway media folks about the headline and spoke up about the content of the article written by Ms. Sarrio, the education reporter. The editor was taking responsibility for the headline that alarmed many. The editor also noted they have given positive coverage of TSU in the last several months and gave examples of that coverage. He felt the article was balanced. No word from the Tennessean about a fundraiser to help offset the millions lost in tuition fees for the 2010-2011 school year. Now, if folks want to partner to do a benefit for TSU, I will gladly help Co-chair the event. Heck, I will even handle all the media relations!

With all that has been said and done, where do we go from here as a city, community, and school? No one wants an adversarial relationship with the city’s main daily or our weekly newspapers for that matter. Families and faculty have too much to focus on staying the course. TSU has an image issue it must repair quickly. There is no denying the hits from the media have taken its toll on the students and the faculty. Nationally, TSU is still raking in award after award in spite of what has taken place locally. The school must address some internal issues that can no longer be swept under the rug. The TSU community can no longer continue to do business as usual, while rouge individuals plot the school’s destruction. This is not an option that many parents are willing to allow happen. Too much is at stake; the future of young people educational endeavors and the institution that many love dearly are vital to our city and our country. My sons are the reason I took the time to seek out the truth. My allegiance is to my sons’ education and that far outweighs any mayhem, mess and foolishness.

As I close, let me share with you some of my prayers from my prayer journal. I pray daily for my sons as they go about their lives on campus. I ask God to show favor with them as they take lessons that I tried to instill in them from home to take with them into the community. I pray for the teachers, instructors and coaches who are now shaping them for their next steps on their paths in life. I pray for the administration, from the receptionists who answer the phones to the President who leads the university. Oh, yes, I pray for the financial aid office also. Every person at the school is now part of helping bring my young men, gifts from God, into being responsible people in our society. For that, I am a thankful mom to everyone at TSU. As a community, the TSU family must move on to a new chapter with determined steps and action items with measurable outcomes. Divisions and dissensions must be left behind. Let us continue to pray for the well being and wholeness of Big Blue…we can not afford not too. Amen.

Letter to Leon Stephen


Letter to Jamie Sarrio

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