EDITORIAL: Why college media matters


Staff meeting of The Seahawk in the Student Media Center in Fisher Union.

The Seahawk Staff

In October of 2012, Jerry Sandusky was sentenced 30 to 60 years in prison for the sexual abuse of 10 boys during his tenure as Penn State University’s assistant football coach. At 68-years-old, this meant a life sentence.

In the final days of the trial, several of his victims spoke of the horror they endured; one mother even claimed her son attempted suicide twice because of the psychological damage from the abuse. The trial and repercussions fit the crime and those victims rest easy knowing metal bars, trained guards with guns and the law stand between them and their attacker.

Their stint in hell is over because Penn State journalism student Sara Ganim asked a source for her crime beat if there was anything else she should know.

“Well actually a boy just came forward and alleged sex crimes against Jerry Sandusky.”

She was 22-years-old and won a Pulitzer Prize for it.

As college journalists, we fight for a reason to stay relevant every day. We compete with local dailies, online news organizations, Facebook, Twitter and even Pinterest for subscribers.

We’re road blocked at every corner for information because our relevance to the actual reporting of news seems insignificant compared to every other station with professional credentials.

We’re not CNN, but compare our story about Brent Campbell to theirs. Compare it to every other news outlet in Wilmington. Who paints a better picture? A news correspondent who spent one day with Brent or our writer, Evan Amezcua, who spent a week talking to him, trying to make him feel comfortable with telling us his story. At the end of which, the two ended up talking about books and their mutual love of sci-fi and not the Trayvon Martin case as if it was the only reason we wanted to talk him, although we did briefly bring it up for the sake of covering our bases.

We might not have the resources to cover every ribbon-cutting ceremony but the ones we do, we cover with passion and empathy and a decisive nature that doesn’t stop once we get what we want.

We become close to our subjects and we do it not just because it’s good journalism, but because we want to. We want to know motives and background and what your brothers and sisters names are (Brent’s are his twin brother Kyle and his older sisters, Tiffany and Leah).

A desperate thirst for knowledge brought Ganim to break the Jerry Sandusky story before any other news outlet in the country. No one believed her or trusted her because as a 22-year-old college student, who would? She lacked relevance in a world devoted to “five years of experience needed even though you just graduated college.”

College media matters because of people like Ganim and Amezcua. It matters because as part of the community of higher education we want you to know everything possible about a subject before coming to your own conclusion.

We won’t lean left or right in the news (for that you can go to FOX or MSNBC) and we won’t report on gossip before triple confirmation.

So, this year we want you to know that we exist. We’ll bring you stories in a way no other organization will and it’ll matter to you because it matters to us.

College media matters because we represent and know you, the students of UNCW, better than anyone else because we are you.