WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Student Journalists Digging Up the Dirt

Apr 12, 2017

The Washington Post reported that a group of reporters and editors from a high school newspaper in Kansas started looking into the background of the school's new head principal.  They found some discrepancies in her education credentials, did some more digging, found more problems with her resume, and published their findings.  A few days later, she resigned.

Shop Talk panelist Will Buss praised the students for doing some vetting and research and asking challenging questions. He found the students’ initiative encouraging. 

Buss said the students also demonstrated resilience and courage by sticking with a controversial story.

Panelist Jasmine Crighton said the story started as a profile piece. She said the student journalists had no idea what they were getting into when they started working on the story.  But they followed the trail when they came across dubious details about the administrator’s credentials.

Crighton said the students deserve credit for standing up to the head principal, who refused to answer some of their questions. 

Panelist Rich Egger called the story an example of how student journalists can do the same quality of work as professionals.  And he wondered why the school’s search team and Board of Education failed to uncover the discrepancies before the head principal was hired.

Jasmine Crighton is News Director of NEWS3 at Western Illinois University and Will Buss is the Director of Student Publications at WIU.