Recently, a story surfaced about the now ex-assistant men’s basketball coach at Texas A&M-Commerce, Josip Maric, who was arrested for sex trafficking.
The story’s headline stated he was an ex-ACU basketball coach, which is true, but misleading.
Maric was an ACU coach almost a decade ago. Since 2010, he has worked at six different universities before beginning his most recent position at A&M-Commerce in 2017.
If we’re being honest, it’s clear most people only read the headline of the story, which doesn’t clarify that Maric hasn’t been an ACU coach in nine years. Instead, they are led to believe he was recently let go from the university because of his actions, which is completely false.
Not only does this stir up controversy in the city, but it also brings unnecessary scrutiny to our university.
ACU has been under a microscope for other matters in the athletic department, but now it is being criticized again for the false narrative that is created by this story. The university has very little to do with this entire situation outside of being a previous job position on Maric’s resumé.
If the New York Times had written a story like this, there would have been so many people “fixing” the headline in the comment section on social media, or rage-tweeting about it. If the Times can’t get away with writing a misleading headline like this, neither should local news organizations.
Local news is important to small communities like Abilene, but it needs to be held to the same strict standards as large news organizations like the Times. If we expect high quality content from larger news sources, we should expect it from local news sources, too.
It is understandable that KTXS cannot be held liable if readers don’t read the full story, but they need to understand how much weight headlines carry and how much they influence a person’s opinion. The headline they wrote negatively impacts the university for no reason and doesn’t mention the more important details of the story.
The purpose of journalism is to report the facts, not to skew the facts to create a false narrative. For KTXS’ motives, “ex-A&M Commerce basketball coach (that also happened to work for ACU nine years ago) gets arrested for sex trafficking” doesn’t have the same ring as “ex-ACU coach.”
Local news organizations need to do better than this.