Wick Communications

The principal has been schooled

In journalism on April 6, 2017 at 12:36 pm

Incidentally, I couldn’t find the Booster Redux stories online or I would have linked to them.

Ever heard of Corllins University? A group of gutsy Kansas high school students hadn’t either, and they ultimately got their new principal to resign when they started asking questions about a college that was mighty hard to find.

The staff of the Booster Redux at Pittsburg High School intended to simply write a feature introducing their new principal to readers. When the principal couldn’t answer basic questions about her background, the journalist-students ran a story noting that she was boasting of advanced degrees “earned” from a diploma mill.

Amid the congratulations for some real journalism, the kids themselves are asking how the adults — including school board members and professional journalists — missed what they had found.

“They were at a loss that something that was so easy for them to see was waiting to be noticed by adults,” adviser Emily Smith told the Washington Post.

Well, I have a theory about that.

Corllins stood out to the students, perhaps, because high school kids are focused on college and getting into the right one after their prep days are done. They are told that college is the most important decision ever and so they expect a degree to mean something. Adults, meanwhile, are sometimes cowed impressive-sounding degrees. Who am I to question a Ph.D from Corllins University? Besides, that was a long time ago. Who cares about her college years? …

For me, the lesson is to maintain a childlike curiosity about all things. Luckily, we are expected to be generalists. I will do stories about swimming, sewerage systems and local history this week. I can’t possibly know too much about any of it, so I will be asking some stupid questions. Sometimes that is all that saves us.

Keep that in mind. And say a toast to the kids at the Booster Redux. Our future is looking a bit brighter today.

Clay

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