Friday, May 11, 2007

Medill Reports

I read an article in the Sun-Times a few weeks ago about Gage Park High School on the Southwest side. They are suffering from massive overcrowding that the reporter surmised has led to an uptick in school violence and just hotter tempers. A first year teacher talked about his experience of being hit in the head and having to go to the hospital after breaking up a fight. A student said she was scared about accidentally bumping into someone in the teeming hallways and getting in fight trouble. I was so excited after reading the article - it had names, specific examples, numbers - I thought this would be a great idea for my final project. I thought, "This reporter has done some work for me already." I was not so lucky, though. I called the first year teacher, and he went on and on about how "two-faced" the reporter was and how he was afraid he would lose his job after the article came out. He said the principal was so angry about the article and that everyone at the school would be very hesitant to talk to the media ever again. I assured him I was not interested in smearing his school, but he seemed unconvinced. After 3 calls and 2 e-mails to the principal, she still has not responded to me. I am certain I'll have to ditch this story. I read another teacher's blog about the article. He said everything in the article was true, but students and faculty were angry about the school sounding like thug land. I have not had an experience where I have had to appear "two-faced." But I was almost ready to tell the first year teacher whatever he wanted to hear to get him to talk to me.


At Friday, May 11, 2007, Blogger L.C. said...

I've also noticed a firsthand wariness of reporters in my time with Chicago Broadcast. It's discouraging to think that the public often sees journalists these days less as protectors than as possible threats.

Exposing wrongdoing has always been a hallmark of good reporting. It's horrible that this sometimes means reporters will make a story look worse than it is, just for the short-term gain of looking like a successful investigator.


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