Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Washington Post, national media turn spotlight on Pittsburg High School reporters

How long before this becomes a movie?

The feel good story of a group of young high school journalists who uncovered the truth about the background of the school's new principal has struck a chord, not just locally, but across the nation.

The students' investigation led to the resignation of Dr. Amy Robertson, which was announced at a special board of education meeting Tuesday night.

Today, the students are profiled in a Washington Post article, which notes that their achievement was recognized by many national journalists, including the Post's own David Farenthold, whose reporting last year on Donald Trump's charitable contributions and his scoop on the Access Hollywood video in which Trump spoke coarsely about what he liked to do to women earned him a reputation as one of the nation's best investigative reporters.

From the Post article:

During the course of their reporting, the students spent weeks reaching out to educational institutions and accreditation agencies to corroborate Robertson’s background, some even working through spring break. Their adviser, (Emily) Smith, had to recuse herself from the story because she was on the committee that hired Robertson. So the students sought the help of Eric Thomas, executive director of the Kansas Scholastic Press Association, and other local and national journalists and experts.

Under Kansas law, high school journalists are protected from administrative censorship. “The kids are treated as professionals,” Smith said. But with that freedom came a major responsibility to get the story right, Smith said. It also meant overcoming a natural hesitancy many students have to question authority.

“At the very beginning it was a little bit exciting,” (junior Connor) Balthazor said. “It was like in the movies, a big city journalist chasing down a lead.”

But as the students began delving deeper into the story, keeping notes on a whiteboard, “it really started hitting me that this is a much bigger deal,” Balthazor said.

The best part of the story- only one of the student journalists who worked on the story is a senior. With nearly all of the students returning next year and with the momentum from this investigation certain to continue, Pittsburg can look forward to having journalism that truly serves the community.

Photo- Gina Mathew, Kali Poenitske, Maddie Baden, Trina Paul, Connor Balthazor and Patrick Sullivan prepare to Skype with newly hired principal Amy Robertson. (Emily Smith/Pittsburg High School)


Anonymous said...

Great job by these students and maybe the citizens of Pittsburg need to look at their board and supt. who failed to check properly and gives a poor excuse for the choice of new principal. His explanation was very weak at best saying they would have eventually found the problem, but had offered the person a contract which leads one to believe it was a done deal. These students need national exposure and recognition for a super job well done. The future of political oversight is being passed on to these students to "bring home the bacon" on political screw-ups.

Anonymous said...

There's plenty of muck to rake what with Good Old Boys Clubs and incompetent elected and appointed officials. Not to mention crooks and scammers of all sorts.

Anonymous said...

Why does the Joplin Globe not think this is a story? Even the New York Times has covered it.

Anonymous said...

...and she would've gotten away with it too, if it hadn't been for those meddling kids and their little newspaper...

Anonymous said...

928 you stole that comment from Yahoo ironic