Discourse / Editorials / May 25, 2016

Thoughts from the Embers: TKS reflects on reporting practices

As a newspaper, our staff is sometimes faced with the issue of not being able to interview people on both sides of our articles. This happened last week in our article on Knox’s football coach Damon Tomeo being found not guilty of racial discrimination against three football players.

We talked to each of the three black students who filed individual complaints against Tomeo for racial discrimination, as well as other students on the team. Despite being approached for comment multiple times, members of the administration and Tomeo declined to comment on the situation, citing legal or privacy concerns.

The article has created a conversation on social media, particularly anonymously on Yik Yak, that has raised questions about whether it was ethical for TKS to run a story without comment from all parties involved. People have anonymously compared the newspaper to “Fox News” or called the article in question “one-sided” or an “opinion piece.”

We, as an Editorial Board, stand by the article and our reporting practices. If every story we produced was sanctioned by the Knox administration, the newspaper would be no different than another source of public relations for the college.

These stories may not always shine a positive light on the college, but that does not make the experiences of the students involved any less valuabe or true. Not shedding light on these stories is a disservice to the student body. Instead, these stories can create a dialogue on campus and put pressure on the college to create to fix major problems on our campus.

Professional newspapers report regularly on ongoing investigations and lawsuits. Not doing so would be silencing members of the campus and a complete disregard for individual’s freedom to speak about their experiences.

If you think that TKS is reporting too much on an issue or are disturbed by some of the very real problems on our campus, rather than being upset that they were uncovered, let’s hope that the college and students work toward fixing campus problems so we do not need to report on them any longer.

Disagreeing with how a story was written or having a strong opinion on it, no matter what it might be, is also valid. We welcome feedback and dialogue and recognize it as an important part of the campus discourse as well. We have a place for it in the paper in our Discourse section and welcome all members of the Knox community to submit letters to the editor or columns.

While we understand the administration is unable to comment in detail on certain topics, we also encourage its members to utilize our Discourse section as a platform to engage with the campus or at the very least develop more avenues to communicate with members of the campus. This is not the first time we have made this suggestion.

Receiving a lengthy update via email every few months is ineffective and in all honestly probably overlooked by much of the campus. Engaging regularly with students through multiple platforms Ñ from social media to email to open forums — and producing updates and responses is vital to fostering transparency and mutual respect between students and the administration on campus.

In terms of this specific instance of alleged discrimination, we cannot say what exactly the administration should have done because we were not able to speak to them or Tomeo about the alleged racial discrimination. However, several sources confirmed that Tomeo’s contract at Knox was renewed before the investigation against him was even complete. however.

To us, this shows a complete disregard for the students involved and an indifference toward the outcome of the investigation and the alleged discrimination.

Being a journalist often means reporting on stories that are not easy to tell, especially when not everyone involved wants the story to be released. It is our job to tell such stories with balance, accuracy and depth — regardless of those obstacles. Although one side may choose to remain silent, we as a newspaper choose not to let that silence pervade the student press.

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