On the Record: Telling stories with compassion, reporting with purpose
From our Managing Editor for News, intentions to continue transparency with ethics and decision-making
As journalists, it is our job to tell stories. It is a great privilege, and a responsibility myself and the rest of The Eagle’s staff do not take lightly. As student journalists, the stories we tell affect us personally — the people we write about are our peers, our professors and our community. We live and work in the community we cover, experiencing it first hand at both its highs and its lows.
Our reporters and editors have been working for the past year and a half to bring the American University community the latest news, many of us spread out in our own corners of the world. Now that we are back together again, we hope to use the things we have learned in the past year and a half to make our journalism better. Here are some of them:
The news can sometimes be painful, but it is our responsibility to report it. We are committed to doing so in ways that minimize harm to our sources and tell their stories with intention. Reporting on pertinent issues in our community, such as hate crimes, not only brings to light the issue at hand, but also places pressure in the hands of University administrators to take action, and provide students and the community with a full picture of what is happening.
We are doing our best to balance the everyday needs of a newsroom with our everyday needs of what it means to be an 18 to 22-year-old in the world today. Our status as student journalists does not negate the potential to make mistakes and cause harm, and we understand the permanence of our work.
We also acknowledge and recognize that there have been times in the past where The Eagle has failed to do this. By having a richness of voices and identities in our stories and in our staff, my hope is that The Eagle can more thoughtfully cover our community.
Ultimately, our goal is to report on the issues facing our community. This involves reaching out to people who may be grieving or experiencing hardships themselves and giving them the opportunities to tell their stories. At the same time, it is our job to report the news, and we intend to proceed with dignity and compassion.
I’m proud of our work recently in doing this. From writing about an organization started by the family of a former AU student to bring awareness about fentanyl overdoses to gathering student reactions about antisemitic vandalism on campus to covering a vigil for a D.C. resident who was killed by police, our staff has been working hard to tell stories with compassion and uplift the voices of those in our community. Yet, I know we have a long way to go.
As a paper, we aren’t immune from criticism and backlash. While some of it is undoubtedly warranted, some of it may stem from a lack of understanding from the audience about the reporting and editing process. This column was started by former News Managing Editor Brianna Crummy to offer transparency to the AU community. My hope in continuing it is that it helps students understand why we make the decisions we do, and to continue to grow the trust of our audience.
As always, readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor and contact me or Editor-in-Chief Clare Mulroy if they have concerns or feedback about our coverage.