PERSONAL STATEMENT #3
Posted by: Write My Essay on: November 19, 2017
Dr. Martin Luther King’s quote that the function of education is to teach people to think intensively and critically – and how intelligence and character is the goal of education – is thought provoking and can be applied to many people’s lives. In my life, while I was living as a student in Uzbekistan, I completed credits by working for my school newspaper. This program trained students in the various functions of the newspaper business. In the first semester of the program, the students were reporters and then they were editors in the second semester. During the time as editors, we were in charge of assigning stories to the reporters. At the beginning of the week, the managing editor wrote down story ideas and then the ideas that were accepted were then assigned to the reporter by the editor who came up with the idea. My story was to cover a mother whose daughter was severely beaten up by a bully in the college we were at. The woman contacted the head of the journalism department because she was furious that the girl who had bullied her daughter wasn’t expelled. The head of the department asked me if I wanted to assign the story to my reporter, and I agreed.
I believe I was assigned this story because of its delicate nature. The woman was obviously very upset and it would be a challenge to write the story without implicating the person who was allegedly responsible for beating her daughter up. There was no evidence about the assault and the woman seemed mostly interested in identifying the person who she thought was responsible. I warned the reporter to whom I assigned the story that the situation is touchy and he should run anything by me that he is unsure of. When I received the story back from him, he hadn’t taken the precautions that I warned him about, and the article he wrote was slanderous. He identified all three parties in the story, the woman who came to the department with the story, her daughter and the person who was being accused of assault. I also received the story not long before the deadline, and it clearly needed a lot of work to make it publishable.
This is where I had to make one of the most challenging decisions in my life. Because the newspaper was being laid out by the design team, I had about 2 hours to get the story to the point where it would be acceptable to print. I needed to take all the names out of the story. Both the mother’s and daughter’s names had to be removed because they would identify the daughter and put her at risk of further abuse. The alleged bully’s name also had to be kept out because no charges were formally laid and the assault was hearsay at that point. The challenge was that I couldn’t have a story in the newspaper without any sources. Having two sources, the mom and the daughter, but without attribution, makes for a weak article. I could have assigned the story back to the writer, told them what they needed to change, and then hoped for the best. But I knew I couldn’t trust this writer to get the job done right this time.
As I brainstormed to find out what source I should use, I finally decided to contact the school dean. After speaking with her, she recommended I talk to a school councillor about bullying. I was fortunate enough to track down a councillor, who I spoke with for several minutes about the number of bullying incidents there were at the school. I was able to use those quotes to provide a solid source for the story. I then took out the names of the people originally identified, and I reworked the article. The story was completely different from what the student reporter wrote, but it was free from libel and we were able to use it in the newspaper.
I believe the type of character I showed in not getting mad at the reporter, but instead figuring out what needed to be done with the story and then pursuing that, was an intelligent idea that showed a tremendous amount of insight. The critical thinking I used about determining whether the article would be slanderous or unnecessarily reflect badly upon someone was intelligently done. This is the type of situation that King was talking about during his speech about the value of education.