By now you’ve heard about this investigative journalist named Jon Krakauer.
His book titled “Missoula” is due out in April. It promises to enlighten us on just how bad things were with campus rapes in our community between 2008 and 2012.
From a marketing standpoint, the title is a great way to grab attention and sell some serious copies.
From an image standpoint, it promises to be a painful shot to the solar plexus for the Garden City.
From my standpoint, the title stinks, regardless of the subtitle that follows.
If you’re not familiar with Krakauer, he has penned some excellent books about unfortunate deaths. In 1996 he wrote about a young man’s cross-country journey leading to his untimely demise in Alaska. Details of “Into the Wild” have been put into question for alleged errors and “leaps to conclusions.”
Krakauer later wrote a book highlighting the ghastly deaths of his climbing pals atop Mount Everest. Details of “Into Thin Air” have also been put into question. At the end of my paperback copy, Krakauer apologizes to family and friends of the dead whom he offended in a magazine article about his Everest experience.
Krakauer has the right to write whatever he wants – no matter how much he regrets it later. I’ll hold judgment on “Missoula” until reading it because there may be lessons to be learned.
I’ll assume such a reputable author would never pass judgment on another without first looking that person in the eye and hearing his/her side. It just doesn’t jibe with anything I learned in journalism school.
One topic “Missoula” will reportedly address is the University of Montana’s handling of a rape case involving a student athlete. It was all over the news, as you may recall. Whether Krakauer is revisiting the subject to simply sell books or to expand on a story well worth telling is something I'll decide in April.
While we’re waiting for the Champion of Justice to enlighten us, I’d like to point out some positives springing from the Grizzly athletic department since early 2012. I probably won’t have any book publisher knocking on my door but what the heck.
Since the time Griz football coach Robin Pflugrad and athletic director Jim O’Day were fired, University of Montana President Royce Engstrom and athletic director Kent Haslam have made a series of commendable moves.
Engstrom found just the right guy to lead the football team in veteran coach Mick Delaney. He did yeoman’s work before Haslam, who was hired by Engstrom, tapped Bob Stitt to take his place in December. Stitt’s reputation as a leader of young men is spotless.
Haslam has also made tremendous hires for men’s basketball (Travis DeCuire) and softball (Jamie Pinkerton). He clearly knows character when he sees it and he's not afraid to put class at the top of his hiring wish list.
Montana had 53 student athletes earn spots on the 2014 Fall Academic All-Big Sky Conference teams. That includes 17 from the football team, which is coming off one of its most successful semesters with a collective grade point average of 2.87.
Women’s athletics have never been stronger at Montana. While coach Robin Selvig’s Lady Griz basketball team continues to set Big Sky standards for attendance and success on the floor, a new home for the first-year softball squad is becoming a reality near Dornblaser Field.
Throw in the new student athlete academic center and the Washington-Grizzly Champions Center – constructed at no cost to Montana taxpayers – and there's plenty to feel real good about for Griz Nation.
My guess is we won’t read much about that stuff or UM's updated model approach for handling rape cases in “Missoula.” Nor will we see anything about last week’s announcement the Garden City has been ranked among the top six coolest towns to live in by matadornetwork.com.
Krakauer is a gifted writer so I'm curious to read his newest work. I'm also leery of the picture he's going to paint for those with no knowledge of Missoula.
Moving my family to this place remains one of the proudest moments of my life. Nothing in a book will ever change that fact.