Shop Talk panelists Jasmine Crighton and Will Buss said their student reporters ran into a dead end as they tried to get information from Western Illinois University and its Office of Public Safety (OPS). The journalists are seeking details regarding a report filed by a woman who said she was followed by a man hiding in some bushes on campus.
Crighton said her reporters at NEWS3 first came across the information on social media. She said OPS failed to include anything about the woman’s allegations in the incident reports it sends to media outlets several times a week. Crighton’s reporters interviewed the woman but OPS did not respond to requests for an interview.
Crighton said this is not the first time in recent years that OPS has left something off its incident report, and she said her reporters have not been able to get answers as to why it was left off. She also said no one from the university was willing to listen to her students when they demanded to know more.
Buss said one of the Western Courier’s reporters learned of the incident but was not able to secure an interview with the woman. Buss said the reporting staff was able to get a few details from the university but he feels the university needs to do a better job of disseminating information about such incidents – he believes the public expects that.
Shop Talk panelist Rich Egger said OPS should have included information about the woman’s report in its incident rundown. And he wondered why the university did not issue a public safety alert or warning to the campus community.
Crighton and Egger both said the university would be better off releasing facts about such incidents instead of trying to sweep them under the rug, which simply allows rumors to spread via social media.
Jasmine Crighton is News Director of NEWS3 at Western Illinois University and Will Buss is the Director of Student Publications at WIU.