Hats off to these student journalists
With the president of the United States telling thousands of Boy Scouts at their Jamboree that one of their biggest concerns ought to be “fake news,” it’s hard to imagine today’s young people wanting to become journalists.
And yet, there are young people who do, and their drive to be honest, investigative journalists may go a long way toward preserving this republic.
Here’s a case in point. A journalism class of high school students in Pittsburg, Kan. had questions about the woman that the Pittsburg Community Schools Board of Education had appointed to be the high school’s new principal.
Trina Paul, a senior and member of the journalism class, told the Kansas City Star that she and classmates “wanted to be assured that she (the new principal) was qualified and had the proper credentials.”
Most people accepted what the Board of Education told them when Principal Amy Robertson was hired, but not these kids. They began researching Robertson’s background, and something didn’t pass the smell test.
“We stumbled on some things that most might not consider legitimate credentials,” Paul said. So the journalism students kept digging and wrote a story saying the U.S. Department of Education could not find evidence that the private college from which Robertson received her master’s and doctorate degrees — Corlins University — was in operation.
They kept looking and found news articles describing Corlins as a diploma mill where people could buy a diploma or certificate.
The students wrote a story for their school paper and, to their advisor’s credit, it was published.
The Kansas City Star learned of the students’ work and at that point began its own research. It pretty well confirmed that Corlins doesn’t exist, at least not as a legitimate college.
The principal resigned from her new job after a closed-door session with the local Board of Education.
Robertson told the Star that she stood by her credentials. Of the school’s journalism students, she said “their concerns are not based on facts,” In other words, the students had generated “fake news,” buttressed by the U.S. Department of Education. Uh, huh.
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