Local teacher releases book
By Ron Graber / For the Daily News
Randy Turner just might get a little more respect from the eighth graders he instructs in his Communication Arts class
at Joplin South.
The former Carthage Press editor knows words - he estimates he has
written 20,000 newspaper articles in his career.
But he has now added a new accomplishment to his resume - published author.
"Small Town News" a book about journalists but inspired by the events in Diamond, Mo. that took place on Oct. 31, 2001
when the school’s superintendent committed suicide and the Diamond Community Bank and Trust were robbed.
The book, Turner emphasizes, is fiction. "Like Law and Order, ripped from old headlines," he said.
"I didn’t want to tell the story of what happened to Dr. Smith," said Turner, who was a teacher in Diamond at the
time of the incident. "I wanted to tell the story of how the media reacts to events in a small town and how people react."
The book’s plot focuses on a high school journalist named Tiffany Everett, who is taking part in a one-week internship
at an area television station, and watches a week of turmoil surrounding the community’s crisis.
"During seven exciting days, Tiffany Everett sees the permanent damage that can be done when the media circus hits a small
town...and if she’s lucky, she may live to see football homecoming," says the synopsis on the back cover of Turner’s
While the novel may not be a thesis on the role of journalists in society, it may get readers thinking, said Turner.
"It poses some questions about journalism ethics," said Turner. "It may get people to think about just why do journalists
do things that way."
Although "Small Town News" is not the first fictional book Turner has written, it is the first he has had published, something
he credits to his maturity and the current availability of "print on demand" publishers.
He said he knew his writing had improved when the rejection letters he
received were handwritten notes of encouragement. Not just standard form letters.
Another thing Turner has going for him is his blog, "The Turner Report," a running analysis of news, politics and the media
that can be found at http://www.rturner229.blogspot.com
"I told my kids that if I am going to make you write everyday, I am going to write everyday," said Turner of the origin
of his blog.
His job as a teacher makes a national book tour impossible, but Turner’s web site allows him to market his book from
home, he said.
"It’s a different way of doing things that didn’t exist just a few years ago," said Turner.
"Small Town News" can be found through Turner’s web site as well as via Amazon.com, Books-A-Million (web site and
store) and IUniverse.
Turner will hold a book signing at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20 at the Neosho Library.