The J-TAC (Stephenville, Tex.), Vol. 57, No. 10, Ed. 1 Thursday, April 8, 1976 Page: 2 of 16
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April 8,1976 The J-TAC Page 2
The pen is mightier than the sword
by Michael Trollinger
Lord Edward Bulwer-Lytton once wrote that
"the pen Is mightier than the sword." He
reasoned In this thought that the pen can
concurrently influence the conception of ,
thoughts of literally millions of people while the V
sword can only physically damage one person at
The veracity of his statement was
demonstrated recently here in Stephenville. The
pen was wielded by Barbara Lancaster and the!.!
medium was the Stephenville Empire-Tribune :[
such, adversely affected the judgment of the ,
people of this community in regards to the
outcome of the trial.
In a major occurrence such as a murder trial
involving local people, a newspaper reporter has
several responsibilities. The first is a social I
responsibility to the community to fully and :
accurately report the trial news as it develops.
This is important because many of the people i
interested in the trial have to rely on the news'
media in order to properly make their own
personal decision as to the defendant's guilt or .
innocence. In Stephenville, the news media most ,
relied upon is the Stephenville Empire-Tribune;.
One reason is that there is no television station >'
within 90 miles. There is a local radio station !
but its popularity is questionable. There are fa
number of local , subscribers to Fort Worth,
Dallas, and Abilene newspapers, but their
subscription total surely does not rival that of
the local newspaper.
Thus, The Empire-Tribune and its reporters
bear that social responsibility to the community.
The second responsibility that a newspaper
reporter has in such a case as a trial is a moral
responsibility to the defendant that a proper
accounting be conducted for both sides involved
in the judicial proceedings. No matter how
distasteful or lurid this accounting may be, a
, responsible reporter will report it objectively.
This responsibility is magnified when those
involved in the news story or trial, or whatever it
is, are local people., A biased accounting can
unfairly destroy a family's reputation in the
commmunity and affect their future
Examples of how Barbara Lancaster and the
Stephenville Empire-Tribune did not properly
execute these responsibilities are listed below:
• In the March 26, 1976 edition, Barbara
Lancaster devotes almost three columns to the
prosecution with direct quotes used liberally and
> three short paragraphs to the defense with no
quotations used. 5 ;
•In the March 28,. 1976: edition, the
prosecution is given 2'i columns of newspapers
space with the defense being limited to
approximately one-third of a column. In
addition, the District Attorney's final argument
is quoted almost verbatim while the defense
attorney's arguments were-totally paraphrased
and presented superficially.
•In the March 30, 1976 edition, the lead
paragraph to the article lists the two people who
"held out" for acquittal. In addition, every
quotation reported is made by the District
Attorney or in the prosecution's behalf. Again, a
major portion of the article is devoted to the
prosecution while the defense I is limjted to
several paragraphs. , * ( |
•In the April 1, 1976 edition, in her own
personal column, Barbara Lancaster personally
replied to a letter to the editor which questions
incorrect and misleading statements in her
articles by admitting that she was "half-asleep at
most of the trial" because of the myriads of
other duties that she must perform as an
employee at the Empire-Tribune and as a
woman with a family to maintain. :
•In the April 4, 1976 edition Barbara.
Lancaster devotes her entire Sunday column to
"A Glimpse into the Life of Sherry Orbison."
Although one can say that this article was
heartfelt and sincere, it still points out that Mrs.
Lancaster was somewhat involved with the
victim of this whole tragic affair.
Throughout the whole series of articles, there
are numerous misquotes. This is an inexcusable
error for any writer, newspaper-affiliated or not,
If a person's sworn testimony in a trial is to be
quoted, it should be verbatim and what the
testimony actually is. If the reporter's memory
or shorthand cannot accomplish verbatim recall
of the testimony, paraphrasing is one solution.
It has not been the intention of this editoral
to attempt assassinating the character of Barbara
Lancaster or implying that the Empire-Tribune
is not overall a responsible segment of the
Stephenville community, Nor are these efforts
aimed at influencing the local populace as to the
relative guilt or innocence of the defendant in
this affair. It is solely an attempt at exposing the
errors in reporting during the Orbison trial so
that, in the future, a more responsible reporting
job will be conducted. It is also an effort to alert
the residents of Stephenville to the power of the
press in hopes that they will keep an open mind
and compare various news reports before making
decisions in such an important Issue.
Reader discusses merits of solar energy research
To (lie Editor:
1 would like to commend the
Texas Public Utilities Commission
for the progressive stand it
adopted last week in advocating
that the new federal Solar Energy
Research Institute he located in
Texas. Waco representative Lane
Denton, who is running a strong
c o n s u ni e r - e-u-v i r o n m e n t a 1 i s t
campaign for the Railroad
Commission, took a like stand
months ago. Perhaps now * the
joint advocacy of Denton and the
PUCs A1 Lrwtn. a like-minded
progressive, will provide the
necessary momentum tio attract
this vaulahle project.
The importance of hamassing
solar energy cannot be
u n d e r e s t i m,a ted. Se v e n ty-t wo
hours of sunshine world-wide
'could provide the equivalent of all
the known energy produced by
oil. gas and coal reserves. Solar
collectors covering,only a scant
percentage of the nation's land
surface could supply all the
electric power used by the United
States. Within 50 years, solar
power e ou Id •'account ■ for
approximately one-quarter of the ,
power produced in this country.
Finally,* since no one has -a
monopoly on the .Sun, there is no
possibility of 'embargoing solar
energy toward: the selfish ends of
one groujj of people or nation.
U n f o r t u n a t e 1 y if past "
performance is^auy, indication,-
current member/ of the'Railroad
Commission, hand-picked by the
oil barons ot Texas, will not be
any help* at all. (rj bringing the
SER1 facilities to Texas.
Lane Denton, on the other
hand, has proven his commitment •
to the amazing possibilities of'
solar power. He was the only
Texas legislator in 1975 to
sponsor any solar energy bills.
Both passed. One bill exempt"
solar energy supplies from the
franchise tax, while the other
exempts buyers of solar energy
equipment from the sales tax.
Both give a needed-boost to. the-
utilization of solar energy, Wjftich j
will bd an essential part of, Ui6
energy picture of the 1980s.
Additionally, Denton in 1973
introduced legislation which
would have created a Manhattan
Project-type solar research effort.
-This can still happen, if
responsible Texas officials find
the support they need in
attracting the SERI project to this
, , Julia A. Thompson
Student praises Senator Bentsen
I am writing to urge support
for Senator Lloyd Bentsen's
re-election to the United, States
Senate and for his delegate
nominees for Favorite Son.
As a former student body
president at Sam Houston State
University jn I974-.75, and
immediate past, president of the
Texas Student Association
(1975-76), ' I 'have had the
o p p o r t uni ty to become
acquainted with the Senator
personally.' I have found him to
be a serious,,straight-forward man
who is genuinely interested in
serving his country."5.;
Senator Bentsen has been a
consistent' supporter of education
. since joining the Senate in 1971.
He has supported every education
bill to come before Congress, and
has voted three times to override
vetoes of educational ,bills.
Further, Senator Bentsen was a
key figure in the successful efforts
to do away with the -S 15,000
Means Test in the government's
Guaranteed' Student Loan
Program. This test was unrealistic
and discriminating against middle
income Americans who have been
caught in the crunch of rapidly
rising education casts.
In his re-election race. Senator
Bentsen is supported by an
impressive list of student leaders,
including 17 student body
presidents, 23 student government
officers and representatives from
10 young Democratic Clubs plus
the National ' President of the
Young Democrats, wlio is a
Bentsen delegate. f'j /
In the Presidential race in
Texas. Senator Bentsen's delegate
.<V?, V;*, yx*. -' 4 .•xo* v\
n ominees are the mos t
representative slate o,f ail. A close,
examination, of these delegates
reflect a strong broad-based
support, consisting, of liberals,
conservatives, business, labor and
minorities. • • ' "
Virtually all political analysts
agree that this year's Democratic
Convention will be. a wide open
con ve n t ion .. a tul that the •
delegations that come to the
convention united will have an
. important say-so as: to who will
receive the nomination. This is
why alt Texans need to unite
around one candidate who can
.best represent the Texas
viewpoint in tin- national
convention. 1 urge you to support
the Senator in his- efforts to unify
Terry M. Brown
The J-TAC, student newspaper of Tarleton State
University is published by Tarleton State University weekly
during the regular fall and spring semesters with the
exception of school holidays and /examination periods.
Printer is the Stephenville Empire-Tribune, Stephenville,
'.-Texas; •' *
The J-TAC reserves the right to edit any letters to the
editor and does not guarantee that any letter to the editor
wijfbe published. Letters.should be limited to 300 words or
less, and must be signed before they 'will be printed.
The J-TAC, P.O. Box T98, Tarleton Station, Texas
Second class postage paid at Stephenville, Texas. >
Siibse'iip'tiori rates S2 per year.
'H,i,orr •; Jackie Robinett
News Editor .Lynn Young
typesetter/Composer .... • ; grenda Stanford
Business and Circulation Manager John Roy-Valentine
Ad Layout ... Ken Martin
I hotographer . Charles Spider
Sports Reporter falter Latham
Reporters Charles St. George, Kathy Schmick
Faculty Advisor '
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The J-TAC (Stephenville, Tex.), Vol. 57, No. 10, Ed. 1 Thursday, April 8, 1976, newspaper, April 8, 1976; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth141341/m1/2/: accessed March 26, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Tarleton State University.