Earlier this week, we shared with you a surprising report about a South Carolina newspaper writer being banned from covering Gamecocks football. Ron Morris, who is a columnist for The State, has developed a poor relationship with Steve Spurrier over the years because of Morris’ tendency to criticize the South Carolina football team.
Spurrier once refused to answer questions at a press conference as long as Morris was in the room. The hatred the Ole Ball Coach has toward Morris grew from there, and eventually Morris was told to stay away from the Gamecocks. Mark Lett, executive editor of the State, sent an email to his colleagues on Thursday that essentially announced Morris is once again free to cover any topic he’d like. A copy of the email was obtained by JimRomenesko.com:
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
It sure sounds like The State was worried about the negative publicity it was getting as a result of telling Morris to back off. Lett said Morris was asked to “focus on coverage other than the USC football program,” but Romenesko reported earlier this week that Morris had to put in writing that he would no longer cover the Gamecocks in any way. He was also allegedly led to believe he would be fired if he tried.
Sorry, Spurrier. The internet gets its way sometimes, too.
H/T The Big LeadGoogle+