One School District. Yet Another Awful Media Disaster.

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on October 11, 2012 – 6:02 AM

You may remember Dr. Lynn Beckwith, chairman of the St. Louis-area Riverview Gardens School District.

He’s the man who feared a dastardly “walking away” shot after an ambush interview had ended—and therefore refused to walk away from the reporter. You can read about that incident in my earlier post, “Whatever You Do, Don’t Back Up!”

I came across another video of Dr. Beckwith’s strange media approach recently (I missed this clip when it originally aired in May 2011), proving that the first one wasn’t an anomaly.

I could list several things Dr. Beckwith did wrong in this interview, but one stands out above all others: he forgot who his audience was.

Beckwith appears to hold this reporter in low regard (that’s a generous understatement), but it shouldn’t matter. His conversation is supposed to be aimed at the audience—not the reporter—and it’s hard to imagine that this interview did much to increase public trust in Beckwith’s job performance.

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Comments (4)

  1. By Bruno Behrend:

    This is a school district. School districts are engines of waste and greed. Each and every one of them are franchises of the greedy and corrupt “Government Education Complex.

    The attitude of the superintendent is that of any member of a corrupt monopoly. They don’t care about you, your children, or your tax dollar.

    They care about legalized money-laundering, padding payrolls, and making you pay for their greed.

  2. By Brad Phillips:


    I think you might be globalizing the issue a bit here – one bad actor doesn’t make every public school administrator or district uncaring, corrupt, or bad. But your views are welcome here, and I appreciate you reading.

    Best wishes,

  3. By Christina:

    Sad thing here is that this administrator and the district might very well have had a reasonable answer to this aggressive reporter’s questions. (Makes sense to me that a struggling district would have a number of consultants: They’re trying to right the ship with some outside help without the legacy cost of full time employees. PR consultant? Totally legitimate since public impressions influence whether families enroll in or flee the district.)

    The problem is the chairman became defensive. And defensiveness smells like blood in the water to a “You Paid for It” type of reporter (I know, used to be one.) Had the chairman been even a little prepared to answer the questions he should have anticipated, he could have disarmed the reporter and diffused the whole story.

    Just a wee bit of media training would have gone a long way for these folks, and sent that reporter looking for someone else to badger.

  4. By Mark:

    Riverview Gardens School District in St. Louis has a history of overspending. The previous Superintendent Henry P Williams was convicted of felony theft and tax fraud and sent to prison. All sorts of other questionable practices took place during his tenure, such as travel to Yellowstone and South Africa and savings account drastically depleted. The district lost its state accreditation in June 2007. The Missouri Department of Education subsequently appointed a Special Administrative Board. Hopefully someone demands a meeting with the current Superintendent and Board President and FOIA itemized consultant receipts and post them on an internet site for all taxpayers to view. Unless you regularly attend school board meetings (or view them on tape), talk to the teachers and administrators and classified personnel and students, and actually read and know how to analyze school district financial reports, actually know how to read and analyze school district and student academic data, you are in no position to judge how well a school district is run or how well it’s spending its money…and very few people including Board members have the inclination, time, and skills to do so. Think about it. Selfishly speaking, a person would be much better off financially going out and earning money rather than saving a few dollars off their tax bills by analyzing public schools. In most school districts citizens are not organized to analyze a school’s academic and financial data. The result is you have to hope and pray the money is being efficiently spent, and in all to many cases it is not. Bruno has encountered many school districts that were not spending their money wisely. Running a school is quite complex and involves Federal, State, and Local laws and funds.

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