Let’s be honest – I never wanted to write for a newspaper. But somehow I ended up here, and I love it.
And over the past two years, it has taught me a lesson I did not ever think I would learn from a newspaper.
In the words of former Major League Baseball Commissioner and United States Olympic Committee Chairman Peter Ueberroth, “The integrity of the game is everything.”
This past weekend, The Scout staff traveled to Chicago to attend ICPA, an Illinois college newspaper convention. We attended presentations, took home eight awards and met some of Illinois’ brightest who write their school’s history just like we do.
Let me begin by saying that Columbia College is, as an art and media college in Chicago, a worthy competitor … but I hope they read this column. Out loud.
A newspaper is an opportunity to record, to share and to be made aware.
No newspaper is perfect. Many of us have a bit of a bias, we make spelling errors and we can be a little dramatic. I can promise you, at least in the case of The Scout, there was never a time where we didn’t try to be the absolute best we could be.
At ICPA, the “General Excellence” category is the gold medal of newspaper awards. We weren’t looking to take home first, but I did not foresee first place going to a newspaper that compromises the very essence of student journalism simply to maximize readership.
Columbia’s newspaper, The Chronicle, distributed a Feb. 10 issue that provided an insert completely focused on sex. And I’m not talking about a review of “Fifty Shades of Grey”; I’m talking about full-fledged nasty photos, vulgar language and “how-to” guides that made me want to vomit.
And did I mention that ‘quality’ insert was awarded first place as well?
Real quality journalism is breaking news on the new school mascot, or reporting on students raising more than $42,000 for children’s cancer research, or following the elections of the university’s student body officers.
Quality journalism is not a 24-page sex issue with degrading pictures and disgusting stories. That’s a Cosmo magazine.
We wonder why women are treated like objects, why guys are assaulted with the constant pressure of having to be tough and why marriages are becoming more of a contract and less of a bond.
It’s because we push sexual appeal and physical appearance so much that we can’t see past our own bathroom mirrors.
Why is a sex issue aiding in the reception of an overall excellence award and taking how first place in special supplement from an organization that is trying to promote quality student journalism and reporting?
The judges even went so far as to provide the following feedback: “Terrific piece of work. It takes an oft-taboo subject, treats it in a classy way and presents the information in a fun and interesting way. The photos and illustrations are terrific.”
Classy? If that is journalism – if that is what is considered to make a paper worthy of first place – then I don’t want any part of it.
We are better than that.
I don’t write for The Scout because I want to know what other people think of the paper. I write because I love Bradley so much that I want to be a part of documenting its history.
I want to look up The Scout 20 years from now and see how a bunch of college kids, just like me, are still given the opportunity to honor their school just like I did.
That is why I write.
So, Columbia, if you want to return to your school some day and show your family and friends that you wrote articles on what vibrator to use, how to take a nude photo or the details on pornography webcam girls, that’s your prerogative.
And judges, if this is what you consider good journalism, that’s also your choice.
I just hope the rest of us aren’t stupid enough to fall for the façade.