Monday, March 26, 2007

You be the editor....

Last week, The Daily Collegian broke a story that one of my editors so brilliantly pointed out was “ESPN ticker-worthy.”

I’m not sure if the story ever did actually grace’s ticker, but anytime the word “hazing” pops up in the context of collegiate athletics it’s pretty much a guarantee that the national media will pay attention.

The decision to run a story about Penn State wrestlers and hockey players allegedly involved in two hazing rituals was an easy one.

The decision of whether or not to run the photos allegedly depicting the hazing was not nearly as easy.

Here’s the facts:

The “whistleblower” of this story was an anti-hazing activist from Georgia who found the photos on Webshots and sent them to The Daily Collegian, wrestling head coach Troy Sunderland and

Sunderland responded immediately to Collegian reporters and said he was “very upset” and intended to look into the incident.

Meanwhile, at least three student athletes have denied the allegations that the incidents were hazing.

Then, Penn State released a statement saying that an investigation into the wrestling allegations has been launched and that the hockey investigation was completed last year.

The dilemma of the situation is this: Should The Daily Collegian publish the photographs in question?

If you were the editor in chief, what would you do?

Run the photos in the interest of disclosing all information available so that readers can reach their own conclusion?

Or do you choose not to run the photos so as not to further embarrass fellow students?

I chose not to run the photos.

My rationale?

In my understanding of hazing, the practice inherently creates victims. Just like someone wouldn’t want to be beaten or raped, someone would not want to be hazed and forced to do things they would otherwise not do.

It’s possible that these events were not hazing at all, and that the photos depict nothing more than a crazy party and some bad decisions.

In that case, what’s the potential public good in publishing the photos?

And finally, if this is really a case of hazing, how is it fair to further victimize people who are already victims of hazing by publishing and distributing evidence of the incident?

That’s why I chose not to publish the photographs.

What would you have done?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Drive safely, Penn State

Eight and a half hours.

That’s how long it took me to travel from my hometown of Hanover, Pa. to State College on Friday.

I witnessed one accident, sat in at least three traffic jams and survived on Arby’s curly fries all to get back to Penn State in time for my 9 a.m. continuing education class on Saturday.

A couple things went through my mind during the trip.

One, thank God for curly fries.

Two, what would I do if the windshield wipers gave up?

Three, please please please don’t let too many Penn State students decide to jump in a car and race up to State College to make it back for a 7 a.m. start to the drinking fest of St. Patrick’s Day.

Maybe it’s the treacherous mountains of Route 322 or the likeliness of snow or rain during the trip. It could even be a college student’s thrill of being behind the wheel for the first time in weeks that causes so many students to die in car crashes on their way back to school.

Every winter or spring break I brace myself for news of the Penn State student or students who didn’t make it this time.

With 40,000 students traveling home and back by car, bus, plane and train, odds are someone will pay the ultimate price. Add alcohol to the mix, and I figured things could only get worse.

When I was a cops reporter, the worst part of the job by far was calling the families of students who died in car or other accidents. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be on the other side of the phone receiver.

So during my eight-and-a-half-hour journey, my news radar was up and all I could think about was the students whose mug shots would accompany their obituary on the Collegian’s front page this week.

Thankfully, this time, we didn't have this kind of news.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Take a chill pill, journ majors

I’m graduating in a couple months, and I do not have a job lined up.

I repeat: I do not have a job lined up.

It’s OK, though. I’m not freaking out. I swear. I’m fine. Stop asking me questions.

Then again, maybe I’m a little stressed about the prospect of entering the “real world” in May and I have no idea if I’ll even be in the state of Pennsylvania. And while it’s tempting to use this space to beg the leaders of the journalism world for a decent salary and some benefits, that’s not what I’m going to do. Instead, this blog is for my fellow journalism majors – especially those who work at the Collegian.

I am in no way a career services mentor, so you can completely disregard my input on the job search if you’d like. But I do know one thing: The world is always going to need journalists, which means there’s always going to be jobs for them somewhere. Maybe newspapers will eventually disappear, and radio will go off the air for good. But that doesn’t mean the end of American journalism.

So fear not, soon-to-be graduates of the Penn State College of Communications. There are jobs for you out there, but you’re going to have to be patient. Journalism is an industry of high turnover, particularly at the entry-level positions.

Do yourself a favor and get familiar with Some of the top newspapers and magazines – including the Boston Globe, New York Times, Newsweek, etc. – use the site to find qualified applicants. What’s available now probably won’t be available in a month. And what’s currently filled might be surprisingly vacant when you’re submitting resumes in April.

I know the engineers and the business majors already have jobs. Good for them. But you know as well as I do that you didn’t go into journalism for the money, or even the job security.

So here’s where those sacrifices come in – the ones you knew you were going to make when you chose journalism for a career. And I don’t really think it’s that much of a sacrifice.

Now that I think about it, I know two things.

Being a journalist is the coolest job on the planet, and you’re never going to convince me otherwise.