Daily Archives: September 11, 2013

Update: The State now says Ron Morris is allowed to write about USC football. Read the memo.


In 2011, University of South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier refused to talk to reporters while Ron Morris of The State — McClatchy’s paper in Columbia, SC — was in the room. The coach complained that the sports columnist was a “negative guy.”

Spurrier did the same thing a year later. “I don’t need any questions today,” he told reporters last Sept. 22, then left. The coach, according to one sports site, quickly exited because he feared Morris was planting questions with other reporters after being told by his own paper that he should keep quiet.

Spurrier (left) and Morris

Spurrier (left) and Morris

The 68-year-old football coach won’t have a repeat performance this year, though, because The State has told Morris he can no longer write about University of South Carolina Gamecocks football. (He’s been writing a lot about Clemson lately.)

“The publisher of the paper has removed Ron from any coverage of the football program, which down there is akin to the Washington Post not letting Dan Balz write about government,” one of Morris’s former colleagues told me. “Effectively, he’s being forced out at the behest of the football coach, with the publisher not standing up for him.”

Morris declined to talk to me, but others familiar with the situation — including former University of South Carolina and State staffers — described how The State’s publisher, Henry Haitz III, made his veteran columnist agree in writing that he would never again write about Gamecocks football or talk about the USC program on TV and radio shows.

“It was a journalism restraining order,” said one of Morris’s ex-colleagues.

A sports reporter from another newspaper – he suggested I write this piece – told me: “It’s pretty common knowledge around the area that this happened, and a lot of media types, myself included, are pretty upset at the kowtowing by the publisher there.”

Spurrier’s 2011 tirade
Spurrier announced on Oct. 13, 2011, that he wouldn’t conduct his weekly press conference as long as Morris was in the room. He was upset about something Morris wrote seven months earlier. “This has been weighing on my, on my chest, and I’m getting it off my chest right here today,” Spurrier said. (Morris wrote in March that Spurrier convinced a South Carolina basketball player to quit the team and join the football program.)

After that incident, Morris was told by his bosses not to ask questions at future press conferences.

Spurrier’s 2012 complaints about Morris
On Sept. 19, 2012, Morris wrote a column questioning Spurrier’s “poor decision” to play quarterback Connor Shaw against University of Alabama-Birmingham. That, of course, angered the coach again.

Around the same time, Morris was asked on an XM Radio sports show whether Spurrier would take questions at an upcoming press conference. The columnist replied: “I think it’s a real test of the [University of South Carolina] administration. This is how things like Penn State happen — when the administration won’t step up and confront the football coach, and he becomes all-powerful. When the football coach begins to dictate company policy, I think you’re asking for trouble.”/CONTINUES Read More

gramOgden (UT) Standard-Examiner columnist Mark Saal responds to a reader who complained about his “egregious” grammatical error:

Well, Doris, let me begin by saying that not only do I not know the rules governing linking verbs, I didn’t even realize there WERE rules governing that kind of junk. I’m just happy when I can avoid using a preposition to end a sentence with. …

Look, I picked up English the way the majority of us did — on the mean streets of Anytown, USA. I learned to speak and write, not from studying and applying grammatical rules, but from hearing the language, from reading it.

* Writer chastised for “egregious” grammatical error | Here’s the “problem” column (


This was published in today’s Starkville (Miss.) Daily News. “Who thought this was a good marketing promotion?” asks David Garraway, a Mississippi State University employee. Daily News publisher Don Norman was out for lunch when I called for comment. (Update: I’ve called him three times now.)

ALSO: I see on the Daily News website that a one-year home delivery subscription is $106, which is $8.83 a month. So readers are paying more for the 9/11 “special.” (Update 2: The Daily News receptionist tells me that readers normally pay $13 when they’re on a month-to-month plan.)

* Earlier: Country club apologizes for $9.11 golfing special (

Romenesko reader Carl Sewall writes: “I sent you a snip from the Bagley Farmers Independent a few months back, but here’s another one anyway. (Bagley is a small farming town in NW Minnesota.) This is from a story that ran on a news page and was headlined “Thoughts about Syria.” It’s by Tom Burford, the paper’s Manager/Editor.”


* Dear Football Player: When a reporter talks to you, it’s an interview – not a pleasant chit-chat. Former OSU quarterback Aso Pogi: “He just started conversing. All of this was just small talk. We were just conversing and he just brought up certain things and then he just kind of got into it, like did you know this?” (
* Someone remind Jason Whitlock that George Dohrmann is a Pulitzer-winner. (
* Warren Buffett’s Roanoke Times cuts 31 positions. I’m told that 5 newsroom employees, including the photo editor, lost their jobs. “We were told not to speak to other media.” (
* “Reliable Sources” needs a refresh, says Jack Shafer. The CNN show’s tone and texture have changed little since 1992. (
SHOWS* Howard Kurtz’s debut “MediaBuzz” wins in total viewers against “Reliable Sources” but loses in the age 25-54 demo. (
* Reno Gazette-Journal pulls “brutal” obituary and is now reviewing “the circumstances surrounding its placement.” (
* Former Denver Post columnist Mike Littwin lands at the Colorado Independent. (
* “I wasn’t allowed to watch tv, or ask what was going on,” and other 9/11/01 memories. (#wherewereyou) | Twitter gets serious on 9/11 anniversary. (
* Patrick Howley’s Daily Caller attack on CNNer Stephanie Cutter “was downright disturbing to read.” (
autoc* Brook Silva-Braga, host of PostTV’s “The Fold,” is leaving the Washington Post. (
* Report: USA Today newsstand price goes from a buck to $2 on Sept. 30. (
* Former Notre Dame student editor was “appalled” by his classmates’ behavior. (Some wore pajamas to mass!) (
* Fort Worth Star-Telegram switches to Facebook comments on Thursday; editor expects to hear about the change today “from those who wish to spew hate.” (
* A brief Los Angeles Times memo announces sports columnist T.J. Simer’s departure. (
* Let’s buy Rupert Murdoch’s yacht! (