Mark Lett, executive editor of McClatchy’s The State in Columbia SC, tells his staff that “no subject or individual is off limits for examination” by sports columnist Ron Morris and other columnists at the paper.
The editor says Morris was “asked …to focus first on coverage other than the USC football program.” That’s not quite right; Morris was ordered by publisher Henry Haitz III to sign a document pledging that he would never again write about University of South Carolina football — or talk about the program on radio and TV shows. My sources say Morris was told he’d be fired if he did.
I assume you are familiar with articles and talk about The State, Steve Spurrier and Ron Morris.
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.
Relationships can be difficult between news makers and journalists, especially those who write analysis, commentary and opinion. You all understand why. Around here, much has been said and written about Spurrier and Ron — in blogs, on the web, on talk shows and in other publications.
As with any relationship, it sometimes helps to step back and allow conditions to cool. In recent months, we asked Ron to draw upon his considerable sports knowledge and experience to produce highly readable, relevant columns and enterprise features.The work has been outstanding and has given sports fans much to enjoy and to think about. During this time, we asked Ron to focus first on coverage other than the USC football program.
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.