The Student Press Law Center (SPLC) named 2019 the year of the student journalist. SPLC said that despite excellent investigating and reporting, “student journalists are continually threatened by censorship, retaliation, budget cuts, lack of access and many other challenges… Few people understand the important contributions that journalism education makes to civic life.” In light of recent coverage, reporters at The DePauw are facing such criticism, except it doesn’t come from anonymous faces online, but from faces we see in the classroom, in the dining hall and around campus. Our proximity to both our subjects and our sources makes our job both rewarding and challenging.
We’d like to go on the record to inform the DePauw community what we do and why we do it.
We strive to present all sides of controversial topics. At the same time, we cannot make people say what we— or you— want them to say. While we may know or think something to be true, unless we have a source on record confirming it, we cannot print it.
The joy and satisfaction we feel from successfully writing a story are far greater than any recognition. We report because we are passionate about telling the truth. We report because we believe it is important to keep the student body informed and educated about what is happening on campus.
As journalists, we pursue the truth in every conversation and encounter. One of the pillars of the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics is “Seek Truth and Report It.” As DePauw students, without a journalism program, we are constantly learning through our work and will make mistakes, so corrections and constructive criticism are welcome. Berating, on the other hand, is not welcomed. Errors should be pointed out to us with respect, as we are happy to admit when we are wrong and correct ourselves. Any and all corrections and news tips can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, not to the writer of the story.
Like student-athletes, student-journalists are students first. We are expected to uphold all of the responsibilities of a full-time student while also publishing timely and accurate information throughout the week. We spend long nights in the newsroom because we are passionate about investigating, writing and communication. We don’t ask for extensions in the classroom, but do understand that while you might expect same-day or next-day coverage, the demands of school come first.
Professors, please note that when you critique the paper in class, there may be student journalists present. We are appreciative of your attention and readership, but we are people and take your opinions to heart.
We’ve been fighting fake news since 1852, and we’re not stopping any time soon. Stay tuned.