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Governor's attack on St. Louis journalist offers a lesson to reporters

Headshot of smiling younger white man with brown hair, brown eyes, trim moustache and beard, oval face, wearing glasses.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Josh Renaud is the designer and developer with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch who discovered that a flaw in the Missouri Department of Education's website revealed teachers' Social Security numbers.

Stories about Missouri Gov. Mike Parson's threat of legal action against a St. Louis Post-Dispatch developer and a young white woman's disappearance reveal the strengths and flaws of media coverage.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Josh Renaud was searching the Missouri Department of Education's webpage code for data on public teacher certification when he recognized that it included Social Security numbers.

The paper alerted the education department and held its story until the agency fixed the problem. Renaud's reward was to hear the governor say he could face prosecution and a lawsuit.

Did Renaud do the right thing and should other journalists think twice before doing something similar?

That's one question we consider on this episode of Up to Date. The other involves media coverage of Gabby Petito's disappearance — a national story that raised concerns about why Black women who are reported missing don't get the same level of coverage.

What should be done about racial bias in reporting?

We examine both of these cases to highlight what went right and what went wrong and what journalists can learn from both.

  • Patricia Weems Gaston, Lacy Haynes Professor of Journalism in the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas
  • Brett Johnson, associate professor, journalism studies, University of Missouri
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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
As Up To Date’s senior producer, I construct daily conversations that give our listeners context to the issues of our time. I strive to provide a platform that holds those in power accountable, while also spotlighting the voices of Kansas City’s creatives and visionaries that may otherwise go unheard. Email me at zach@kcur.org.
As senior producer of Up To Date, I want our listeners to hear familiar and new voices that shine light on the issues and challenges facing the myriad communities KCUR serves, and to expose our audiences to the wonderful and the creative in the Kansas City area. Just as important to me is an obligation to mentor the next generation of producers to ensure that the important conversations continue. Reach me at alexanderdk@kcur.org.
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