Missouri attorney general seeks records from journalism professors
Lee Enterprises reported that Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed an open records request seeking correspondence between two journalism professors connected to the University of Missouri and the executive director of a fact-checking group.
In a move that appears to be unprecedented in Missouri, Schmitt filed a request in June asking for three years of emails sent and received by the professors while they worked at the Columbia Missourian.
Most correspondence generated at private media firms is not subject to the state's open records law, but the Missourian could be because it is attached to the University of Missouri, which is a public entity.
The Missourian is not overseen by university officials, but most of its staff are students who are working for credits toward a journalism degree. The professional editors work as university faculty members.
Schmitt's spokesman, Chris Nuelle, said in a statement that the attorney general is “simply trying to get to the bottom of the fact checking process.” He declined to answer further questions.
Schmitt previously used open-records laws to seek copies of handouts, emails and other resources that address race from school districts as part of a push targeting “critical race theory.” He also opened a “transparency portal” to allow parents to see his efforts.
Schmitt is a Republican who is running for the U.S. Senate.
Shop Talk is a weekly panel discussion about journalism issues. This week’s program featured Will Buss, who teaches in the Department of Broadcasting and Journalism at Western Illinois University and advises the student editors at the Western Courier, the students at student radio station The Dog, and the WIU chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists; Rajvee Subramanian, a former teacher in the Department of Broadcasting and Journalism at Western Illinois University; and TSPR News Director Rich Egger.