As with any journalist, there comes a time, or rather a story that really pushes one to question whether or not they will succumb to pressure in order to keep the administration happy. Whether they will push themselves hard enough to get the story out and to where the voice of the people is heard.
In my case, I’m a simple high school journalist writing a news story. The only problem is, I’m writing it on privileges that football players are perceived to have, and this is something that has made admin very unhappy. I know that eventually this fear I have will come to pass, but to be quite frank, I’m scared. I’m scared I won’t get the story right, or perhaps that I will end up censoring myself, or even get someone else who helped me in trouble.
When I first started, I knew that this was going to be difficult given the cover ups and misinformation given in the past regarding the same topic. I was lost. I had no idea who to turn to and what to ask. Fortunately, my advisor pushed me in the right direction and I found my leads, but I had to plan this out very painstakingly. Everyone I had to interview had to be given a time frame, who to ask and when, what to ask and why. Who to ask first and who to hit last?
One interviewee to another I began constructing this story, and the more I dove into it, the more sources I found and the more people I talked to. I found many inconsistencies from administrator to administrator, and more concerns from every teacher and every student surveyed and interviewed. Every problem gave way to another, and it seems that I can’t possibly back out now, not after I’ve found out so much.
I’m not quite finished with the story, at least not yet, but I came across some people that have tried to push me away or shut down the news piece. I call them the terrible trio, but that’s a different story. What happened was that I was given lots of vague and misleading information, and when checking back with other sources, it seemed a bit suspicious to say the least. I also had an interview with the one administrator I’ve been hoping to avoid for quite awhile.
All I can say is, it was like I was a tiny fish in front of a slow moving and massive, hungry octopus. She would tell me my questions were everything from irrelevent to biased, to say the least. She wanted to know why I was covering it, and she would deny things the student body so blatantly expressed to us.
To this day, just for this one story, I’ve talked to at the very least 11 people. 11 people who have chosen one side or the other, have led me from one source to the next, and brought me back to the same conclusions. On top of that, I’ve had even more talk to me off the record for the sake of pushing me in the right direction, people willing to direct me to where the gold was, and I suppose I’ve almost found it.
I’ve come across roadblocks, predators, people that have helped me and those that wish to discourge me. In the end I just hope I get the truth out, what is really going on and why this problem of perception needs to change. Too many times have we come across the same narrative and the same end results, only to negatively impact the school populice as a whole.
My only hope is, after this long-winded explanation, that I get the story right. That I don’t screw up like I did last time and actually put my piece out with courage. That I actually build up the bravery to tackle tough stories in the future, and not have to fear the backlash that follows.
What I often forget is that I have a strong team standing behind me. People who are teaching me what is right, and those willing to put themselves on the line to help me out.
I just hope that their support is not in vain.