Discourse / Editorials / October 12, 2011

Thoughts from the Embers: Spot news and the student journalist

From the biggest newspaper to the smallest community newspaper and even student newspapers, spot news is a key portion of proper coverage. Without this coverage the newspaper loses important objectivity to news coverage.

First off, a definition: Spot news is the coverage of an unplanned event or situation. A large portion of this may include the coverage of unfortunate events including car accidents, fires and other emergencies.

This coverage is one of the most misunderstood jobs of a journalist. As journalists for The Knox Student we have a job to report the happenings of important events on campus.

The wellbeing of an individual is our first priority. If we happen upon a situation where our help could be used, we will help, we are human beings after all, but nine times out of ten we arrive after more qualified personnel are on the scene.

At no point do we hope to embarrass the individuals involved and if it ever happens it is unintentional. We understand this isn’t the best moment of your life and we hope to respect that during our coverage. Despite this, it is bound to happen from time to time and it is one of the many factors in our decision to publish.

We hope that our coverage is a way to inform our readers and in no way do we cover such events in hopes to gain readership or to benefit any other way besides providing important information to our readership.

Covering spot news is never anything one looks forward to; it happens and it’s our responsibility as journalists to cover such events. Without this coverage the view of the Knox campus would be untrue and we wouldn’t be fulfilling our duties as objective journalists.

We hope to increase our coverage of spot news events and be better able to cover such events. This will give our readers a more complete view of the campus and current events. While we hope for an increase of coverage, in no way do we wish to become the classic “ambulance chaser” journalist.

We have caught flack from our coverage of different events in the past. This can happen while we try to cover a situation or afterwards. While the argument is different from person to person, for the most part the misunderstanding comes from not being able to see it as a new worthy event.

Most recently we received complaints from last week’s coverage of a student being transported to the hospital. We at no moment hoped to cause additional trouble for the student and we reported to the best of our ability at the time of publication. We have since been informed that the student’s anonymity was not preserved as much as we hoped and we do apologize for this.

Sometimes our coverage of spot news can be flawed, and this is bound to arise while reporting on the event in a timely manner. We strive to do the best job reporting with the information available and we will work to update the information until a story is complete.

At times the question arises whether a certain spot news situation should be published and the answer to that question varies from person to person. This line of opinion varies even on our editorial board, but the ultimate decision does come down to the Editor-in-chief.

We have made mistakes and misjudgments while covering spot news events in the past and unfortunately we are bound to make future mistakes. We strive to fix any errors and correct the situation, just as we do with mistakes in other parts of the newspaper.

You are free to have your own opinion on this topic, but we hope that this explanation gives you a better understanding and respect for the job we perform when covering such an event.

The world is not perfect and Knox College is not perfect and without proper coverage of both the good and the bad we are providing a disservice to you; our readers and our publication would lose important validity that we strive to gain each week.

TKS Staff

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