TopOfTheCircle.com

Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Jan. 15, 2015 — The “other” shoe on a caterpillar?

One criticism of the news media these days is that many news outlets tend to fall into a pattern of storytelling rather than journalism. It’s called “journalism by narrative,” and criticism of this form of news style came to a crescendo in mid-2012, when an audio narrative about life inside a factory assembling iPhones was retracted for misstatement of facts.

All this despite the fact that the radio show broadcasting the narrative, “This American Life,” has never advertised itself as a news source; the show, since its debut in 1995, has been a collective of journalists, artists, and authors creating an episode around a certain theme.

I’ve never been much on “journalism by narrative,” even though I’ve been working on a substantial one over the last seven years on the entire episode surrounding former U.S. international Todd Broxmeyer and his conviction on child pornography charges.

Why haven’t I published it? The inner Ben Bradlee keeps telling me, “Find another source.” There are too many unanswered questions about the entire episode, and, frankly, there are occasionally new details that change the direction of the narrative.

Which is why the events of this week, surrounding the firing of former University of Iowa field hockey coach Tracey Greisbaum threaten to tear apart any narrative that has been heretofore assembled.

Over the weekend, the Des Moines Register published internal emails regarding a former Iowa field hockey player whose lawsuit over her non-renewal of her athletic scholarship for the 2012 season was settled by the university.

The blaring headline on the story concerned sexual harassment due to the player’s sexual orientation. But peel back the onion and what is shown is a university and an athletic department in panic mode over its next steps.

Today, Sally Mason, the president of the University of Iowa, announced that she would be retiring as of August 1.

Though Mason has been working without a contract from the Iowa Board of Regents for some two years, the resignation is curious in terms of its timing as well as the message it may send to donors, alumni/ae, and the students and student-athletes currently on campus.

Mason has taken criticism in the past for shortcomings on dealing with on-campus sexual assault as well as sexual harassment within university staff. And then came the Greisbaum situation and Mason’s tone-deaf response to it.

While Mason’s retirement may take the pressure off the athletic administration of the university in the weeks leading towards an expected lawsuit over Greisbaum’s firing, I have a feeling this is far from over.

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