Jacob Clanton – Editor-in-Chief, Staters Union
With Boys State nearly over, it’s time to look back on the week and reflect on what we learned.
As a member of the media, I had a different experience than most did. I didn’t really feel like I was a part of the simulation. Rarely, if ever, did I know what was going on in Congress, King County or Icenogle.
At times, that was frustrating. Sometimes, I wished that I had been in the House or the Senate. The job as the media seemed insurmountable.
As the week went on, I felt like it got worse. It all climaxed when the governor decided to say there rumors that the media was becoming “scandal-seeking tabloids.” I’ll be honest, that ticked me off. As a journalist, to be called a tabloid hurts. It goes against everything I do.
Journalists are supposed to be fair, yet critical, of public officials. It is our job to say things that government officials don’t want the public to hear solely because it makes them look bad.
Now, this isn’t to say that we are out to get anyone. Rather, we are looking for the truth. Martin Baron, Executive Editor of the Washington Post, told those assembled at a recent Landon Lecture that the fundamental task of journalism is to tell the facts, whatever they are, no matter what. It doesn’t matter if these facts go against your beliefs. It doesn’t matter if these facts make you look bad. It doesn’t matter if these facts take down public officials who are loved by all. Facts are facts.
Tabloids, on the other hand, are perceived to be sensationalist magazines that report on half-truths and white lies. To be associated with that, in any way, shape or form, hurts. That is not what we are.
That being said, I am grateful to Governor Thill for saying those words. By doing that, he allowed for a learning moment. Later that night, as the Staters Union staff was deciding what to do about the issue, I was faced with my first major decision as an Editor-in-Chief.
I wasn’t sure what to do. Part of me wanted to fire back, but that’s not morally right or accurate. As a journalist, I shouldn’t attack somebody for attacking me. Another part of me wanted to write a story that laid these “rumors” to rest. But I felt like there was nothing that could really be written about. To me there was no story.
So we wrote nothing.
And that’s what I learned. You can quietly take a side on an issue by not talking about it, and letting it die. Instead, we reported on articulate, clear facts, giving Staters insight into other happenings in the state.
That experience deciding what we were going to do will likely be the number one thing I take way from Boys State. I’m going to be the Editor-in-Chief of my 6A school’s weekly newspaper this coming year, and I will undoubtedly have to make another tough decision like that. By providing me with that experience, I will be better equipped to deal with any situation that arises.
Sure, I’ll take away friendships to last a lifetime. But everyone has that. Not everyone has a real life experience that they can put into practice within a couple months. I do, and I’m grateful to everyone involved for that.
It’s been real serving as your 2017 Staters Union Editor-in-Chief. I’ve loved keeping y’all informed on the events happening this year, and I wish you all the best of luck going forward.