Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Yum, scandalicious

Apparently, I have been given the Dan Rather Truth In Journalism award by a class of barely literate English students at Show Low High School...
Let me back up...
About a week and a half ago my editor called me at home to tell me that some SLHS students had called him at the paper to inform him that there was a big protest going on at the high school. My editor asked me to check into it, and gave me the number of an eyewitness who was also a bus driver for the school district.
So I called the bus driver, who confirmed that there were kids sitting all around, not listening to teachers, having a little sit-in. My boss fielded the phone calls from students who stated off the record the reasons behind the protest.
I called the administration, the superintendent AND the school principal. The brand new school principal totally denied that the protest ever occurred and the superintendent stated that he knew it was being planned but that the principal told him it didn't happen.
Meanwhile, my editor is pushing me for this story and though he sent another reporter to the school, she comes back with absolutely nothing, didn't talk to a soul. Nice reporting! So I write it based on my interviews. It's totally he said she said. Yes, it happened, oh no it didn't.
My editor continues to get phone calls and incorporates that information into my story (without crediting himself) and apparently types it in such a hurry that he introduces many typos to an otherwise spotless article which he prints in the next edition of the paper.
This article then ignites a firestorm (well, what constitutes a firestorm in this small town) of comments on our website with people weighing in on both sides, yes it happened, no it didn't, it almost did, it never happened not even close.
In the midst of this melee, my boss (who started this whole thing in the first place) goes out of town, leaving me holding the bag...oh and of course, my treasured Danny Award.
Thanks Cougars!
Please, click the above link to see the ire for yourselves and read a comment from Erin Brown, my lovely Aggie protege, who leapt to my defense and questioned the intelligence of teachers who can't define bias and students who can't define blasphemy and can't spell taktik, er tactic.
Enjoy my award winning journalism!


Jessey said...

Actual comment on website from SLHS Student:

I'm a sophmore at showlow high school i think that the artical was blown out of the water and getting information from a bus driver who was out on a run at the time isn't responible jouralism not one student sat in on that day and to say the 85%of the student body took part is outragous

Love the spelling dude, or should I say doode.

Anonymous said...

OK, seriously, Jessey, I worry about you entering Elizabeth into this school system. (Two words: Home school.) It is a sad, sad day when I find something too pitiful to laugh at. But that was the case -- I honestly felt embarrased for these people. Students and teachers (!) with second-grade spelling abilities commenting on respectable journalism! Where to begin with that? As for me, I'll take a Dan Rather Truth In Journalism Award over a Dan Quail Spelling Bee Award any day.

Anonymous said...

Tasting my own medicine: I admit to a spelling error. My bad. But hey, I was venting and typing quickly. But they probably were too...

Jessey said...

The good news: The elementary school that Elizabeth will be going to is out here in Linden, and is a highly performing school. In contrast, the elementary school that is actually in Show Low is merely a performing school, which basically means they are barely meeting the academic standards...and guess what? I am writing a story about that too!
The school district people are going to LOVE me!
At the last board meeting I went to, the junior high principal alluded to the fact that I was "their" reporter and said it in such a way that indicated that she thought I would be writing rah-rah stories exclusively and implicitly trusting in their information despite my gut instincts...hmmm, oops.

On that note, I must add that when I spoke to the high school principal about this sit-in, I definitely got the feeling that he was not telling the whole truth, in fact, his responses seemed wholly rehearsed, and not in a good way. He was acting, and badly. A Razzie for him!

Joeja said...

Show Low???

Dude, that says it all right there.

More like, Show me the Low test scores!

Damn I'm funny.

- joeja