One week has come and gone since the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed its seal of authenticity on all the degrees awarded by a North Carolina Central University satellite campus in Lithonia, Ga. Yet, you wouldn’t know it by reading or watching the news in Florida.
The St. Petersburg Times, Tallahassee Democrat, Ledger (Lakeland, Fla.), and WCTV-6 (Tallahassee) all carried the original story concerning questions raised about whether the degrees were properly accredited. But now that those questions have been answered, none of those media organizations has said a word.
The NCCU satellite campus opened in fall 2004 at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in suburban Atlanta. NCCU administrators shut down the program this year after discovering that it had not received approval from the university’s Board of Trustees, the University of North Carolina system or SACS.
FAMU President James Ammons, NCCU’s top executive when the campus was established, received an onslaught of negative publicity. However, Florida’s newspapers and television stations quickly lost interest in the issue once SACS confirmed that the campus did not violate accreditation guidelines.
This raises the question: Would the Florida media have remained silent if SACS ruled that the degrees were invalid?
The omission is particularly noticeable in the St. Petersburg Times, which had a field day when the story broke. Reporter Ron Matus wrote eight blog posts and a full-length news article about the matter, all suggesting that Ammons was in hot water. But once the issue took a turn for the better, Matus decided to ignore a basic lesson from Journalism 101: continue updating the public about a developing story.
It seems that Matus isn’t anxious to inform his newspaper’s readers that there was actually a positive outcome to the accreditation controversy. He’d rather just pretend like nothing even happened.
UPDATE: At 2:54 PM today, Ron Matus and Jeff Solocheck of The St. Petersburg Times' Gradebook blog both acknowledged RN's constructive criticism and updated their NCCU-New Birth coverage. Their blog post can be found here.
SACS validates NCCU-New Birth degrees
Ammons' FAMU support remains strong despite NCCU-New Birth flap