10 Notable Moments in Student Journalism

Who says traditional journalism is dead? These students are making strides in the field of journalism before they've even started their careers. From breaking news to becoming "Internet famous," student journalists are making a difference. Read on to learn about ten notable moments in student journalism history, many of them within the past few years.

  1. The stripper story that wasn't

    La Salle University professor Jack Rappaport allegedly hired a few strippers to come perform at an ethics seminar, and although you'd expect the student paper to be the first to the story, it wasn't. Despite prior knowledge of the incident, student journalists were forbidden to publish the story. In an editorial on the story, the newspaper staff explained, "It wasn't because we didn't have enough information…It wasn't because we were unsure of how to proceed…We didn't publish a story because we weren't allowed." It was only after media outlets such as the Huffington Post and Philadelphia City Paper picked up the story that they were allowed to peep, but even then, only below the fold.

  2. Weinergate 2007

    How could they have possibly known? In 2007, Shorecrest High School's newspaper, The Piper, named Gennette Cordova "Most Likely to Be Involved in a Tabloid Scandal." Four years later in 2011, Gennette became an overnight celebrity for her involvement in Representative Anthony Weiner's scandal, in which he allegedly sent lewd photographs to her. Way to go, Shorecrest!

  3. Calling Marshall Mathers

    Young Annie Reed shot for the moon when she requested an interview with Eminem. The rapper rarely talks to the press, and even then, isn't likely to grant interviews to small student papers. But Annie's request did not fall on deaf ears. Marshall Mathers himself called Annie up, granting a 10-minute interview, and advising her to stay in school.

  4. Paul is Dead

    Traditional media isn't quite fast enough to keep up with the news these days. Today, it's not uncommon for news to break on Twitter. But 40 years ago when Paul McCartney died (supposedly), one would have expected major newspapers to be on the ball. Just not on the ball enough to cover this strange and highly untrue story. The student newspaper at Drake University would spark a long-lived urban legend that Paul McCartney was dead, and replaced with a double, with their reporting.

  5. Who can give consent?

    There's a reason why writers, particularly book authors, frequently recognize their editors for their hard work and contributions, as they're likely to save your hide before you make a big mistake and send it off to print. But even editors make mistakes, and the one on duty at Iowa State Daily in January 2010 probably won't be thanked by Iowa readers anytime soon. In an article on sexual misconduct, a sidebar listed situations in which a person would not be able to give consent to sexual actions, such as someone who is unconscious. The header should have read "Who cannot give consent?" but instead, ran as "Who can give consent?" seemingly indicating that asleep or incapacitated students could be perfectly capable to saying yes or no. Although the error was discovered before distribution, newspapers were sent out anyway. The incident made it to the Huffington Post, Associated Collegiate Press website, and more, bringing it nationwide attention.

  6. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier

    Do student newspapers fall under the protection of the First Amendment? Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier went to the US Supreme Court to answer that question. Although citizens' freedom of speech and expression are protected under the First Amendment, certain exceptions, such as obscenity, fighting words, and threats do exist, as well as certain time, place, or manner restrictions. In 1983, Hazelwood East High School's student paper delivered proofs for their latest issue to the principal, and in the issue was a story about teenage pregnancy and divorce. In an effort to protect the identity of students in the article, and shield younger students from their content, the principal decided to eliminate the stories from the issue. The Supreme Court ruled that this action was just, determining that student newspapers designed for general extracurricular use are subject to a lower level of First Amendment protection than newspapers established as forums for student expression.

  7. The Paper, on TV

    For many student journalists, the excitement and drama of working on the student paper is well known. But those on the outside are often not privy to what happens before the paper goes to print. In 2008, MTV ran a reality show series, The Paper, that focused on the lives of Cypress Bay High School newspaper staff in Florida in the newsroom and beyond. Viewers were able to watch on as upcoming seniors on staff battled it out for the top spot of editor-in-chief, offering an inside view in the lives of high school newspaper staff.

  8. The words jumped right off the page

    Most student newspapers are constantly trying to think of ways to improve and liven up their issues to entice more readers, and college students no doubt are ripe with creative ideas. At the end of the fall semester in 2010, Cerritos College put their creativity to work, celebrating the last issue of the semester by printing it in 3D. The editor, Joey Berumen, was inspired by 3D movies, video games, and TVs, believing that it makes sense for newspapers to follow suit.

  9. Student Government vs. The Queen's Journal

    This May, the student government of Canada's Queen's University ordered an audit of content from the last year in The Queen's Journal, the university's newspaper. This audit is in response to the student government belief that the newspaper does not report enough on student life. In this ongoing story, the newspaper's editors have remarked that the review is mean spirited, and a "direct threat to the editorial autonomy" of the paper. It remains to be seen what this incident will mean for not only The Queen's Journal, but also newspapers at other universities.

  10. Spurlock's Resume

    Everyone knows that experience working on the school newspaper is great for your resume, but if you're Chris Spurlock, now known just as Spurlock, what you've learned from your work on the school paper can make you go viral. Spurlock became "Internet famous" after his infographic resume became a meme. Not only did he get 8,000 page views in 24 hours, he got exciting offers from both print and online news organizations, ultimately landing a job at the Huffington Post. He's a great example of making student journalism launch a bountiful career.

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