Small Town News
Carthage Press article
Newton County News article
Carthage Press article
The events of Oct. 31, 2001


The author, Randy Turner, is shown with a copy of "Small Town News."
Carthage Press photo courtesy of Ron Graber

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 book.

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

"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, 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.

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