The Big Story

I had big hopes for this session and unfortunately, my expectations were not exactly met. We have had a lot of big events happening on campus this year and are currently in the process of looking into more, so I was stoked to hear how a daily newspaper (The Daily Tar Heel) handles big events on campus. The speakers, Sarah Frier and Erica Perel, noted events such as the death of their class president a few years ago and the more recent NCAA investigation and illustrated how student newspapers should go about asking questions of administrators and students to get the whole story. While I appreciated their approach to the “question tree,” where students, as a group, hash out both large and small questions to address in their stories, I felt the approach could have been much more developed and better-executed for the group. I have had a lot of experience formulating and asking tough questions, so I didn’t gain much for that aspect of the session.

However, what I was most taken aback by was the speakers’ approach to publishing stories about the NCAA investigation. While I understand that a story that large takes prominence in the paper, I would not agree with running a story about it every day of the school year (as the editor-in-chief said her paper had done). Sure, run a story once a week (in a daily paper) or include a brief rundown in each issue of the weekly paper, but front page every issue? I definitely don’t agree.

As I work my way through some of the larger issues on campus this year and in the future, I know people are going to be upset, administration will refuse to budge and I may have to do extensive research just to find a single lead to follow. But that’s what I like about hard-news writing. If a story is big enough to require weeks of investigation, it’s a story that the student body needs to hear, no matter what

-Caitlin O’Donnell



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