Oh the joy!

week and a half old Weston.jpgWe had our first grandson last month. Our first grandchild.

I haven’t experienced such joy since our own two daughters were born some two decades ago.

Weston Glover McCoy arrived into our world two weeks ahead of schedule on November 12, 2015. He’s the healthy son of Emily and Dan Glover.

There are many definitions that describe what it means to be a first time grandparent. This is mine:

“I am at peace. I am at peace because a beautiful new being has been brought into our lives with the promise of making our world a better place. I’m at peace because I know my grandson’s mother and father will be great parents.”

I also like using Adobe’s new Premiere Clip app to assemble and edit videos like this that capture the joyous occasion.

Click here to watch it. 

Life is good! May yours be too. – Barney McCoy

Some historical context for University of Missouri protestors who blocked journalists

Tim Tai, a student photographer, was trying to take photos of a small tent city that protesters created at the University of Missouri. Several protesters blocked Tai’s view, argued with him, and eventually pushing him away. Photos: YouTube

Tim Tai, a student photographer, was trying to take photos of a small tent city that protesters created at the University of Missouri. Several protesters blocked Tai’s view, argued with him, and eventually pushing him away. Photos: YouTube

Journalists are sometimes targets of criticism for the way we perform our jobs. The criticism is fair if a journalist knowingly get their facts wrong, act with bias, or if self-aggrandizement creeps into their reporting. (See: Brian Williams, NBC) It happens. Not often, but the fact it happens at all is too much.

More often than not, criticisms of journalists are unfair. This was the case Monday at the University of Missouri. Student journalists covering protests over the university administration’s response to racial tensions and other issues at the university were told by some protesters to stop shooting photos and video.

Click UM

Melissa Click, an assistant professor of mass media at the University of Missouri, ordered a journalist to leave an area where demonstrators had gathered on campus. Credit: YouTube

Two of the protesters were university employees. Melissa Click, an assistant professor of mass media at the University of Missouri, ordered student videographer Mark Schierbecker to leave a public area where demonstrators had gathered on campus. Janna Basler, the director of Greek life and leadership at The University of Missouri approached student journalist Tim Tai, spread her arms out and forcefully demanded he “back off” shooting photos of the protestors. Tai later Tweeted “A lot of hardworking journalists were physically blocked from doing their jobs – I just happened to be on video. I didn’t ask for notoriety.”

The irony and something to learn 

Members of the press have helped give voice and bring wide public attention to the concerns cited by the protestors. That attention helped facilitate many of the changes the protestors have demanded. Interestingly, this was something professor Click called for in a Facebook post two days before Monday’s confrontation with videographer Mark Schierbecker.

Click_mizzou

The U.S. Constitution

The right to peacefully assemble to hold protests like the one at the University of Missouri is protected under the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. So is the constitutional right of the press to cover and report on such protests.

Some history is appropriate here

Lucile Bluford was denied admission to the University of Missouri in 1939 based on her race.

Lucile Bluford was denied admission to the University of Missouri in 1939 based on her race.

This week’s encounter between the University of Missouri protestors and student journalists sparked a keen personal memory. It took me back to my Kansas City reporting days and a journalist I knew and for which I hold the greatest respect.

Her name was Lucile Bluford. She was “Miss Bluford” to all who knew her. She was owner and publisher of The Kansas City Call, the city’s African-American newspaper.

Bluford was a pioneer, a crusader for equal rights for African Americans and women. Above all, she was a journalist dedicated to getting the news out. Like this week’s protestors, Bluford also knew something about racism at the University of Missouri.

Bluford graduated from her Kansas City high school in 1928 as class valedictorian. She graduated with honors and a journalism degree from the University of Kansas in 1932. Seven years later, Bluford applied to the University of Missouri to work on a graduate degree in journalism. She was accepted into the program, but when she went to Columbia to enroll, she was turned away. University officials didn’t know she was African-American.

Western Union telegram from Lucile Bluford to President Frederick Middlebush objecting to the University of Missouri’s refusal to admit her for graduate work in journalism because of her race.

Western Union telegram from Lucile Bluford to President Frederick Middlebush objecting to the University of Missouri’s refusal to admit her for graduate work in journalism because of her race.

Lucille Bluford's letter to the University of Missouri in 1939 appealing her admission denial into the university's journalism graduate program. Click to open a larger image of the letter.

Lucille Bluford’s letter to the University of Missouri in 1939 appealing her admission denial into the university’s journalism graduate program. Click to open a larger image of the letter.

The State Historical Society of Missouri wrote of Bluford’s life and went on to tell her story:

She tried eleven times to enter the University of Missouri. She filed the first of several lawsuits against the university on October 13, 1939. Bluford’s case was denied time and time again.
Lucile Bluford as publisher of The Call in Kansas City, Missouri in the late 1990's.

Lucile Bluford as publisher of The Call in Kansas City, Missouri in the 1990’s.

Bluford finally received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Missouri in 1989. Bluford said that she accepted the degree “not only for myself, but for the thousands of black students” the university had discriminated against over the years.

To me, Bluford was journalism’s Rosa Parks. Her thoughtful demeanor extended to all, regardless of race, gender, or religion. She was a legend for all the right reasons. In recalling Bluford’s 69 years with the Call, the Kansas City Public Library wrote;

Lucile Bluford made the weekly newspaper a potent force for fighting discrimination. She advanced the cause of African Americans in Kansas City.

Never shy, Bluford once scolded the Rev. Jesse Jackson in front of 3,200 people during a 1984 campaign stop in Kansas City’s Municipal Auditorium. “Why are you so late?” Bluford greeted him upon his arrival. The News Tribune of Jefferson City, Missouri reported:

The 73-year-old then scolded Jackson and told him he should have notified The Call about his speech earlier and the paper could have helped with turnout. “She just lit Jesse Jackson up,” said Donna Stewart, the current president and publisher of the Kansas City Call. “She didn’t care about it being Jesse Jackson running for president. She lit him up.”

Bluford died in 2003. She was called the “conscience of Kansas City.” I suspect if Bluford had been one of those journalists confronted by the University of Missouri protestors this week she would have lit them up too.

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For journalists: A more dangerous world

Photo: UNESCO

Photo: UNESCO

Kill the messenger

It’s the figurative “Kill the messenger” tactic- Try to discredit journalists because the truths they report expose deceit, fraud, illegal or immoral activity by those who are doing the condemning. “Killing the messenger” should not be confused with “the big lie” which is a gross distortion or misrepresentation of the facts often used as a propaganda device by a politician or official body. The two are often employed together in practice.

Take these recent examples- Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson’s attack on the news media as chronicled by New York Times Opinion Columnist  Charles M. Blow or shots at the news media over its reporting by defenders of Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Defining journalists?

My point it this: Most journalists are diligent and credible. They care about what they report and why they report it. They seek truth and balance. They attribute their sources, and report what they find. Journalists separate fact from fiction in the communities they serve. They are willing to hold the accountable,,,accountable,even if it means putting their own reputations and lives on the line. Did I add that most journalists earn low salaries and most aren’t in the profession to get rich? 

Palestinian journalists help their injure colleague get to safety after being attacked by Israeli soldiers near the Erez Crossing on October 13th 2015 Photo:Middle East Monitor

Palestinian journalists help their injure colleague get to safety after being attacked by Israeli soldiers near the Erez Crossing on October 13th 2015 Photo:Middle East Monitor

Conditions for the news media are getting worse

In the United States, we are blessed by free press principles. They are an underlying part of our U.S. Constitution but ranked 49th globally for free press principles according to Reporters Without Borders. The group’s Press Freedom Index ranks the performance of 180 countries with criteria that include media pluralism, independence, respect for the safety and freedom of journalists, as well as the legislative, institutional and infrastructural environment in which the media operate.

The U.S. free press principles should be better, but they’re relatively good. It’s not that way in many other countries where the “Kill the messenger” syndrome is often literal in meaning and being a journalist can make you or your family a marked man, woman or child.

The facts

Over the past ten years, over 700 journalists have been killed on the job while countless others have been kidnapped or imprisoned. Last week marked the first annual International Day To End Impunity For Crimes Against Journalists and UNESCO released some interesting figures highlighting the dangers faced by reporters.

According to UNESCO, one journalist dies every week on average with 9 out of 10 cases remaining unresolved. Even though the deaths of foreign journalists attract considerable attention, locals are usually in the most danger. Ninety-four percent of those killed tend to be local media workers.
Infographic: Global Crimes Against Journalists Visualised | Statista

Freedom of the Press 2015, the latest edition of an annual report published by Freedom House since 1980, found that global press freedom declined in 2014 to its lowest point in more than 10 years. The rate of decline also accelerated drastically, with the global average score suffering its largest one-year drop in a decade. Freedom House noted:

The share of the world’s population that enjoys a Free press stood at 14 percent, meaning only one in seven people live in countries where coverage of political news is robust, the safety of journalists is guaranteed, state intrusion in media affairs is minimal, and the press is not subject to onerous legal or economic pressures.

Journalists with tape over their mouths gather on World Press Freedom Day in Bujumbura, Burundi last May. They denounced attacks on and threats to journalists, media workers and human rights defenders in Burundi. PHOTO: AP/Jerome Delay

Journalists with tape over their mouths gather on World Press Freedom Day in Bujumbura, Burundi last May. They denounced attacks on and threats to journalists, media workers and human rights defenders in Burundi. PHOTO: AP/Jerome Delay

So, consider the role of a free press, warts and all, in any real democracy. Ask yourself if you think our society would be better, safer, as informed, or as independent, without one.

Ask if you’d be willing to trade places with the journalists who have been killed, jailed, tortured, threatened or fired for doing their jobs. When I ask students this question many, sometimes most of them, say “No.”  Then they say they’re glad to have journalists among us who are willing to make those sacrifices every day. They do it so the rest of us can stay informed. They do it so we can decide for ourselves what constitutes the truth.

Obama administration rejects Keystone XL pipeline project

President Barack Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline project today in an announcement at the White House. File photo: Reuters

President Barack Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline project today in an announcement at the White House. File photo: Reuters

Today President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry made it official. TransCanada’s 2,639-mile long Keystone XL project will not be permitted to build and operate on U.S. soil a multi-billion dollar pipeline. It was rejected because President Obama said the pipeline:

  • would not make a meaningful contribution to America’s economic recovery
  •  would not lower gas prices for American consumers
  • shipping dirty crude oil into America will not increase the country’s energy security, reverse the negative impact of climate change, or contribute to clean energy development
  • approving the project will undercut global leadership in the fight to reverse the worst effects of climate change around the world

The pipeline was slated to move 700,000 barrels of tar sands oil a day from Hardisty, Alberta in Canada across America’s heartland and on to oil refineries on America’s Gulf Coast. After years of “over inflated” political debate the pipeline project has been rejected. Stay tuned- I’m curious to see what legal or other political maneuvers will seek to reverse today’s decision.

08pipeline-map-popupPersonally, I’m happy to hear the news. I’ve never believed there was a good reason to build the pipeline. Supporters claimed it would create jobs, give the U.S. more energy independence and security, and serve as a hedge against rising global oil prices.

Opponents say the costs will be  the pipeline’s “dirty” extraction process, human health problems, permanent damage to Canada’s forests and a pollution threat to places like Nebraska’s Sand Hills country and the Ogallala fresh water aquifer.

Over the past three years I’ve blogged my own views about the controversial pipeline.

Four years ago, I wrote this about the Obama administrations review of the pipeline proposal.

The real story: The Keystone XL pipeline is a litmus test of President Obama and our political leadership’s resolve to make a true commitment to alternative energy in America and ween ourselves from foreign energy reliance? It’s also a test of the American consumers’ ability to consume less energy and create less waste.

Dust hangs in the sunset sky above the Suncor Millennium mine, an open-pit north of Fort McMurray, Alberta. Canada's oil sands are layers of sticky, tarlike bitumen mixed with sand, clay, and water. Around a hundred feet of soil must be stripped off to reach many deposits. Photo: Peter Essick, National Geographic

Dust hangs in the sunset sky above the Suncor Millennium mine, an open-pit north of Fort McMurray, Alberta. Canada’s oil sands are layers of sticky, tarlike bitumen mixed with sand, clay, and water. Around a hundred feet of soil must be stripped off to reach many deposits. Photo: Peter Essick, National Geographic

And it has been in 2015. My thoughts on the project today, after the Obama administration and U.S. State Department’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline? They are stil the same as when I wrote this four years ago:

What is the state of our nation’s political accountability and transparency? Can we create sustainable energy policies that support our economy and democracy while, at the same time, provide America greater control of its destiny? These are real questions. The decision on the Keystone XL pipeline project will tell us if the Obama administration is truly willing to act in the best interests of our country and set us on a new course of self-reliance and energy sustainability.

What are your thoughts on the Keystone XL pipeline proposal? I’d like to know.

Here’s more on the Keystone XL pipelines chronology leading up to today’s rejection of the project by the U.S. State Department and Obama administration.
//storify.com/barneymccoy/the-keystone-xl-pipleine-a-chronology.js?border=false[View the story “The Keystone XL Pipleine: A chronology” on Storify]

A social media snapshot reveals the power and reach of mobile

What the heck is that?

The illustration below is a NodeXL tool map graph created via the Social Media Lab at the University of Nebraska Omaha. It illustrates the various flight paths of Tweets that made mention of the MobileMe&You conference hosted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications last week. The conference was dedicated to discussing the power of mobile media and its potential to improve our daily lives.

To have more fun, click on the image below. It will take you to the interactive Tweet map designed by friend and UNO School of Communication professor Jeremy Harris Lipschultz.

The #MobileMeUNL Twitter NodeXL SNA Map. Courtesy: Social Media Research Foundation

The #MobileMeUNL Twitter NodeXL SNA Map. Courtesy: Social Media Research Foundation

What does it do? The map graph represents the network of 281 Twitter users whose tweets contained “#MobileMeUNL”, who were replied to, or mentioned, in those tweets. The Tweet data was collected from Twitter on Wednesday, 04 November, 2015.at 21:11.

What’s fascinating about the map graphic is that it nicely illustrates the interconnected way people and organizations communicate, aggregate, filter and disseminate  information when they use social tools. Many of the Twitter messages include other social media links that were created, shared, re-tweeted and shared again as comments, quotes, research and reaction from the MobileMe&You conference. All this information rippled from Lincoln, Nebraska and spread globally across the web.

Those who sent out #MobileMeUNL Tweets included students, faculty, session participants and audience members at the conference, as well as legacy and digital news media. Univision, NBC, The Washington Post, CNN, CNNMoney, Spotify, and the BBC were all found to be Tweeting or re-Tweeting about the conference. Many of the Tweets also linked to url’s that featured live webcasts from the conference, Periscope broadcasts, Storify links, Medium updates, and other related topical reports and materials.

Here’s a more visual representation of the graphic Twitter map from the conference.

TwitterMap2MobileMeYouConfabYou’ll notice larger island groups that surround top message influencers who Tweeted about the conference. Not all of them had the most followers, some simply had interesting and relevant Tweets that were picked up by others, especially news organizations, and re-tweeted again.

Influencers
Noted Lipschultz: “The NodeXL tool creates the clusters or groups based upon relative position in the overall social network. Conference leaders, for example, were near the center of the largest grouped conversation.”
It’s one thing to Tweet a message. It’s something else to see how those Tweets spread within seconds on the maturing wings of social media and it’s all propelled through an increasingly mobile world. Pretty amazing.

The Kansas City Royals parade has an interesting historical contrast

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Inside a city of 467,000, an estimated crowd of 800,000 Royals fans gathered in Kansas City, Missouri Tuesday to salute the World Series champions. The bodies packed from the steps outside the station to the grass of Liberty Memorial. Photo: Kansas City Star

An ocean of royal blue. Or was that Royals blue? Many who witnessed the hundreds of thousands of Kansas City Royals fans packing the streets of Kansas City, Missouri this week said the parade and World Series Championship celebration may have been the largest gathering in city history. It was a tribute to the Kansas City Royals. It was also a celebration of the team’s fans and the city’s optimistic, never quit spirit. The Kansas City Star said Mayor Sly James estimated the crowd at “up to 800,000 people.” The KC Star headline was:

The biggest crowd you have ever seen came out to celebrate the Royals

The Kansas City Star seemed swept-up in the hyperbole surrounding the joyous celebration of a baseball team that beat the odds, played with pride and class, and won baseball’s ultimate crown. Events like this don’t happen often, so a bit of hyperbole is understandable. The Star admitted that maybe its crowd estimate was high, “Nobody can really know.”

It’s hard to argue with the outpouring of people from across the region who attended the parade and cheered the subsequent speeches by Royals players and management as they all packed the area outside Union Station, stretching south onto the expansive lawn of the Liberty Memorial. “We may never know how many were actually there. How do you measure the size of one heart?,” said KC Star reporter and friend Monty Davis. The Kansas City Sports Commission pegged the crowd at a half-million people.

There is an interesting historic contrast to this week’s Royals celebration. It took place in almost the same spot, on almost the same day, 94 years ago. It was the dedication of the World War I Liberty Memorial site on November 1, 1921. This panoramic photo (click on it to see the large size) from the dedication is testimonial to the large crowd that turned out that bright autumn day in Kansas City, Missouri more than nine decades ago. Notice there was even a large group of spectators watching from the roof of Union Station.

KC WWI Memorial  libmem-dedication-lg (2)

The Liberty Memorial site dedication outside Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri on November 1, 1921. Photo: Library of Congress

Here’s another look at the dedication facing north from the entry drive into the Liberty Memorial site.

The Liberty Memorial site dedication looking north in Kansas City, Missouri on November 1, 1921.  Photo: Library of Congress

The Liberty Memorial site dedication looking north in Kansas City, Missouri on November 1, 1921. Photo: Library of Congress

On that day, more than 60,000 WWI veterans and American Legion members marched down Kansas City’s streets to take part in the dedication ceremony. They were part of the four-million U.S. soldiers who fought with Britain, France, Belgium, Italy and several other nations against Germany in the Great War. As was the case in yesterday’s parade, crowds packed deep along the Kansas City parade route to cheer the marching veterans.  This panoramic photo (click on it to see the large size) shows how many Kansas Citians were on hand. Again, you’ll see folks watching from neighboring rooftops, even climbing telephone poles to get a better view.

American Legion Parade marching veterans passing the reviewing stand, Kansas City, Mo., Nov. 1, 1921 Photo: Library of Congress

American Legion Parade marching veterans passing the reviewing stand, Kansas City, Mo., Nov. 1, 1921 Photo: Library of Congress

Hundreds of thousands of Kansas Citians turned out on that November day to honor the veterans, and their former WWI commander, General John J. Pershing, a Missourian by birth who helped preside over the dedication. Talk about Kansas City spirit- To build the Liberty Memorial, local residents raised more than $2.5-million in two weeks for the project. In 2015, that amount would be equal to about $32-million.

Here’s how the day was described by the Kansas City Star in 1970:

Never before or since has such a line of martial marchers moved down Kansas City’s streets as did for the American Legion parade at the time of the national convention here in late October and early November, 1921.

Sixty thousand veterans, splendidly uniformed officers and men, with tanks and equipment from World War I, moved through the downtown streets to the brisk music of 85 bands and drum and bugle corps, and passed the reviewing stand at Eighteenth street and Grand avenue, before five of the world’s greatest military and naval leaders.

Photo: Moxie Hanley, courtesy Kansas City Public Library Missouri Valley Special Collections

From left to right: Allied commanders Lieutenant General Jacques of Belgium, General Diaz of Italy, Marshall Foch of France, General Pershing of the United States, and Admiral Beatty of Great Britain at the dedication of the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, November 1, 1921.. Photo: Moxie Hanley, courtesy Kansas City Public Library Missouri Valley Special Collections

Present were Marshal Foch, commander-in-chief of the Allied forces; Admiral Earl Beatty, commanding the British navy; Baron Jacques, commander-in-chief of the Belgian army; Gen. Armando Diaz, commander-in-chief of the Italian army and our own Gen. John J. Pershing.

Also on the stand were governors; Congressional Medal of Honor men; disabled veterans; Calvin Coolidge, vice-president of the United States; Admiral W.S. Sims; John W. Weeks, secretary of war; Edwin Denby, secretary of the navy; Rear Admiral Robert E. Coontz; Maj. Gen. J.A. Lejeune of the Marine Corps; John G. Emory, commander of the American Legion, and city and legion officials.

General John. J. Pershing was born in Leclede, Missouri, commanded U.S. troops in WWI, and was the only living six-star general in U.S. history.

General John. J. Pershing was born in Laclede, Missouri, commanded U.S. troops in WWI, and was the only living six-star general in U.S. history.

Kansas City homes were opened to the distinguished guests and hotels were packed. Admiral Beatty was entertained at the R. A. Long home, Baron Jacques was the guest of Mr. And Mrs. J. W. Perry, General Diaz was the guest of Mr. and Mrs. Jacob L. Loose, Calvin Coolidge stayed at the Walter S. Dickey home and General Pershing and Marshal Foch and their staffs were guests of Mr. And Mrs. Irwin Kirkwood.

Ground for the proposed Liberty Memorial, across from the Union Station on Pershing Road, was dedicated during the convention.-Kansas City Star, November 7, 1970

On this day, the supreme Allied commanders, among them Missouri son General John J. Pershing, spoke to a crowd of more than 100,000 people. It was the only time in history these leaders were together in one place. What a memory that must have been for the city and its citizens as America emerged victorious from its first global war and established itself as an international power. As was the case with this week’s Kansas City Royals celebration, that memorable place was Kansas City, Missouri.

Make it clear to your audience: In this tragic story NBC doesn’t, CNN does

Tech. Sgt. Marty Bettelyoun (left) and Tech. Sgt. Timothy Officer Jr. Air Force Special Operations Command

Tech. Sgt. Marty Bettelyoun (left) and Tech. Sgt. Timothy Officer Jr.  Photo: Air Force Special Operations Command

It’s a journalism basic: Make the story understandable to your audience. It’s especially important when the story involves a death.

The story involves a military training mishap this week that caused the deaths of U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Timothy A. Officer Jr. and Tech Sgt. Marty B. Bettelyoun. CNN makes the basic details clear in this report.

CNN’s reporter says the airmen died in a parachuting free fall accident. It was a part of their special forces training. The Air Force Times story on the training accident also makes clear the association between “parachute training” and “free fall” in the fatal accident.

NBC’s coverage, on the other hand, assumes everyone knows the term “free fall” is associated with a parachute training exercise.

Said the NBC report: “A two-time recipient of the Bronze Star and a father of five were killed during military free-fall training in Florida, the Air Force announced late Tuesday.”

No mention of parachute training in the NBC print or video story. The term “free fall” may describe a number of different circumstances.

“Free fall” could be associated with a drop in the stock value of a company, a polling drop in public support for a politician, the name of a choreographer’s dance program, a decline in the real estate market in New Delhi, India, or  the violent disintegration during a test flight of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo.

Here’s how the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the term:

Full Definition of FREE FALL

1
:  the condition of unrestrained motion in a gravitational field; also :  such motion
2
a :  the part of a parachute jump before the parachute opensb :  a rapid and continuing drop or decline <a free fall in stock prices>
free–fallintransitive verb

Three NBC employees, , and NBC News correspondent Tamron Hall read the story on the NBC Today Show. She didn’t make the distinction either between a “parachuting free fall” accident and a “free fall” accident.

The NBC report adds that “Both were Special Tactics Airmen, a force made up of specially-trained air traffic controllers, pararescuemen specializing in rescue operations, and military weathermen and forecasters.”  Not sure most viewers/readers know what a pararescueman is either. The Merriam-Webster dictionary does define the word :”pararescue” as “a search and rescue mission by specially trained personnel who can parachute to the site.”

Make your stories understandable journalism students. Your credibility, and the credibility of your news organization may be at stake; especially when the story involves the deaths of two men serving their country in the U.S. military.

Bevo Francis; basketball scoring legend who saved his college dies

Bevo Francis and his Rio Grande College teammates and classmats in 1953. Photo: Life magazine

Bevo Francis and his Rio Grande College teammates and classmates in 1953. Photo: Life magazine

Bevo Francis is doing something he hasn’t been able to do for a long, long time. He’s dropping jump shots from every place on some basketball court far removed from earth, far removed from physical boundaries and his battle against throat cancer. Bevo’s former Rio Grande teammate and friend Don Vyhnalek told me that Bevo died today at his eastern Ohio home with his family close by.He was 82-years-old.

Wayne Wiseman, another former teammate and friend of Bevo’s said he had talked by phone with Bevo a couple of days ago. “Bevo said he just wasn’t doing any good,” said Wiseman. “We’re at that age where these things happen. Can’t stop it. Can’t do anything about it. You just live with it, until you can’t,” Wiseman said.

I had the extraordinary opportunity to meet Bevo years ago when I produced and directed a documentary about him, his fiery coach Newt Oliver, and his talented teammates. The documentary is called “They Could Really Play the Game: Reloaded.”  It’s largely about Bevo, the legendary former college basketball player who still owns several all-time college scoring records.
Bevo Francis and his Rio Grande University team barnstormed across America in the early 1950’s, winning most of its games against far larger foes, capturing the attention of the national press, and saving their school from going broke through the tickets they sold. This unlikely team, from an impossibly small college in rural Appalachia, also helped revive America’s love affair with college basketball after a nasty national gambling scandal in the early 50’s that involved star players from major college basketball schools.
Bevo and his Rio Grande teammates also kept the doors open at their college which provided a path out of poverty for thousands of residents who came from the Appalachian country surrounding what is now called the University of Rio Grande.
In his brief two-year college career, Francis destroyed almost every major scoring record in college basketball. Imagine a player averaging 47 points a game in the days before the 3-point scoring line and one-and-one free throw. That was Bevo Francis. Imagine a player who broke the 100-point-per-game scoring mark twice in his college career. The last time he did it was in 1954 against Michigan’s Hillsdale College. Even though he was double and triple teamed by his opponents, Bevo scored 113 points in the 40 minute regulation basketball game. Whenever someone called Bevo a star, he was the first to say he owed his success to his teammates.

We don’t sell copies of the documentary, but click here or on the “Watch on Vimeo” link below and you, as well as people everywhere can watch it for free. Many viewers on public television have seen the documentary and liked it. It even won an award from the Canadian International Film Festival this year.

Chris Hedrick, WOSU, the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, R. Bruce Mitchell, Diana Markley Guidas, Brad Richmond, Eric Smith and so many others contributed their talents to the documentary.

Tonight, Bevo is free of his battle against cancer. He deserves to be remembered for what he and his teammates accomplished; for the game of college basketball, and for his school. Bevo’s family could also use your your prayers. Spread the word and send it forward.

They Could Really Play the Game: Reloaded from Blue Skies HD Video & Film on Vimeo.

Update to U.S. Postal Service Fail- Package returns home after 5 weeks

After a five week journey, this two day priority package never made it to its intended recipient, but it did manage to find its way  (return to sender) back home.

After a five week journey, this two day priority package never made it to its intended recipient, but it did manage to find its way (return to sender) back home.

June 3, 2015–Guess what arrived in the mail? Yep! The long lost priority mail package my wife sent to our daughter at the University of Kansas on April 28th finally made it’s way back to us as returned mail. (Read more on the story here) If that package could only talk, I’m sure it would have an interesting story to tell. Quite a saga.

May 15, 2015- – My Lord! The USPS package was delivered this morning to the place where our daughter no longer resides in Lawrence, Kansas. (Click here for original saga) ( See the tracking ticket below.)

That’s after a helpful Lincoln USPS employee told me earlier in the day that the college finals care package has been circling for more than two weeks because a second address label was attached to the package. She said she was under the impression the package would be routed back to us here in Lincoln. NOT!

We’ll be very curious to see that that second address label looks like, but only if someone in Lawrence gives the package back to the postman to return to sender. Hmmm.

I guess we can make a claim for the fossilized cookies that were in the care package. However, the USPS gentleman I spoke with today in Lawrence says Two-Day Priority Mail is no guarantee the package will get to its destination in two or three days….or in this case 17 days.

uspsmay15

Concealed carry of guns on Kansas campuses: Potentially deadly consequences

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law a bill allowing people to carry  concealed weapons into public buildings, including college campuses in the state.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law a bill allowing people to carry concealed weapons into public buildings, including college campuses in the state.

I’m the father of two daughters. One is a Kansas University graduate. Our other daughter is currently enrolled at KU, where three generations of our family have taught or attended.

So, I have to raise my voice in opposition to the 2013 Kansas law that will allow people to carry concealed guns on college campuses in 2017, even without concealed-carry permits. How can that be? The law provides no guarantee that someone, anyone toting a gun on a Kansas college campus would be qualified to possess the firearm or use it safely.

“The right to bear arms has long been among those constitutional rights held most sacred by the citizens of Kansas,” Gov. Sam Brownback said after signing the bill into law in April of 2013.

Right-to-carry or concealed-carry laws have generated much debate in the past two decades. Do they make society safer or more dangerous? Last November, a Stanford University study found that right-to-carry gun laws were connected with an increase in violent crime. The study debunked claims that more guns lead to less crime. Distressingly, the Stanford study found that homicides increased in eight states that adopted right-to-carry laws during 1999-2010.

I suspect many parents and students may share my concern over Kansas’ concealed-carry law. Should the law take effect, parents may decide not to enroll their children in the state’s public colleges. Many Kansas college students, concerned for their own safety, may take similar action. For the same reason, faculty resignations could follow. If this happens, enrollment declines, teacher resignations and associated revenue losses could be significant.

“Our students would rather not have them,” said KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little in a 2013 Lawrence Journal- World story. “There is not a group on campus as a whole that would prefer to have concealed-carry on campus.”

A year earlier, Richard Johnson, chief of University Police at KU Medical Center, said allowing concealed-carry on campuses would increase security risks and complicate the job of law enforcement.

“Police must treat any report of an armed individual on campus with extreme caution and rapid response,” said Johnson in testimony before the Kansas Legislature. “How does the responding officer know which person in the classroom of 300 students is legally in possession of a firearm or is armed with the intention of killing others?”

The concealed-carry law will make matters worse for families, students, teachers and higher education in Kansas. It’s a loss for us all if it happens, and a risk I believe we should avoid. What do you think?