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Former Missouri politician starts news website, looks to hire a reporter

When the Missouri General Assembly gavels open its session next month, a new media company based in Jefferson City plans to go live right along with it.

Rod Jetton

Rod Jetton

Leading the company is a man who drew attention to himself inside and outside the General Assembly.

The Missouri Times, a free online publication still taking shape, intends to “get real answers on the serious issues of the day” and do it devoid of partisan slant, said Rod Jetton, former Missouri House speaker and president of the Times, in a news release.

Jetton served in the House from 2001 to 2009, the last four as speaker. But blowback from a 2009 assault charge scuttled his legislative career and the campaign consultancy he ran concurrent to his speakership. He says he’s no longer involved in either politics or consulting.

Jetton believes the souring economics of major media, resulting in staff cuts and diminished resources, make it harder for traditional news operations to achieve journalistic objectivity, and that a project such as the Times can accomplish what other media can’t.

“I feel my campaign experience as well as my legislative background has prepared me to know what questions to ask and who to ask them to,” he said.

And he insists the result won’t be tinted red or blue, or lean left or right.

“This publication will be nonpartisan and solely focused on providing objective reporting on the politics and the public policy process,” Jetton said. “Our overriding goal will be to report on all sides of each issue so that our readers have a clear and honest picture of what happened, who made it happen, why it happened and how it will affect them.”

Scott Faughn

Scott Faughn

Joining Jetton to shape the Times’ editorial content is Scott Faughn, a former mayor of Poplar Bluff, Mo., and publisher of the SEMO Times, an alternative weekly in that town. For the record, Faughn also has crossed paths with the law; he was convicted and fined $1,500 in 2007 for forging checks related to a highway construction project in southeastern Missouri.

“I believe there are readers who want more in-depth coverage of state issues,” Faughn said in the same news release. “Our staff of professional journalists will be in the state capitol every day to serve those readers.”

According to marketing material about the Times, the publication will contain advertising, and subscriptions will be offered at $325 annually for a companion print version that’s scheduled for weekly distribution.

Ideally, the Times will launch Jan. 9, the same day as the new legislative session, and have two reporters on staff. Faughn, the publisher, said the Times hopes to fill one of those staff positions before then.

Faughn said in an email that the reporters are expected to have experience with social media as a news-gathering tool, an understanding of video blogging, and knowledge of the content management system WordPress. He asks interested candidates to email him their resumes and at least two examples of their work to publisher@themissouritimes.com. Hard copy submissions should go to Post Office Box 416, Poplar Bluff, MO 63901.

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