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October 11, 2007

When too busy becomes a lame excuse.

Alright, so...Yahoo is my homepage because it holds my non-school based email account (that I have never been good at checking a lot) so I figured recently if I made it my home page, then I'm bound to think of my email when the page pops up and I'll check it. (In theory this worked then I got a Seton Hill account and I become less likely to check Yahoo, unless someone tells me to, because I hate that Facebook sends me an email every time someone breaths and Yahoo doesn't have a good spam filter....ANYWAY)

 

So on my way to check my email I saw the news feed that Yahoo has and (though this never attracts my attention long enough to actually click on the links there) I stopped and read that a school shooting happened recently (side note: I feel out of the loop at college by not having cable in my room and not being ambitious enough to actually walk out to the lobby and watch the news on one of the three stations that third floor Brownlee is spoiled with; however, I personally feel like I'm less stressed out having to see the same war, school shooting, war, death, disease, war war war, messages everyday on TV like I used to back home) Anyway, so Yahoo news headlines are basically all I get unless I get to dinner in time to pick up one of the papers and read some bit of info. (Sorry I'm getting off topic, ADD does that to you. ANYWAY, for real this time...)

 

I saw there was a school shooting in Ohio, and that there were clear warning signs about it. Actually the headline reads "Student gunman in Ohio warned of attack," that to me says someone screwed up and now people are victims of a shooting because of it. (Good job.) As I read the article I found out that the principal was "too busy" to talk with students about the treat.

 

I'm sorry...what?!?! Too busy is an excuse I give someone that I don't really like, as a reason why I can’t hang out with them for the night, and a principal told students that in reference to a serious threat? I mean, granted, I know school administrators are busy. But, I went to a high school that was pretty small, and 100-200 was the average for each grade level 7-12, and even though they filled A LOT of time with petty issues like the dress code, and heaven forbid someone wearing flip-flops or sweatpants to school, or cutting in the lunch lines, I think even my school's administration wouldn't be "too busy" for a serious threat like this coming from a student. I mean we had a website (report it.com) that students could even anonymously leave a message to teachers or administration if they didn’t want to get caught by a fellow student if they needed to report a threat made in school. Actually our school is probably in the list of Top Ten schools in WPA with the most threats and each one seemed to be taken pretty seriously to me, though we were not always told every time there was a threat, it was usually because it was taken care of before word got out. I have to admit, with the high amount of threats there were in my school our administration took each one seriously, and were never "too busy" when it came to our safety with that kind of thing.

 

So how can a high school of about 1,200 (my high school) not be "too busy" when it comes to problems, but in a high school of 240 (the Ohio school where the shooting took place) the principal was "too busy" to take the threat seriously enough to listen to students. And my high school isn't even that big; actually my class was the biggest class to go through its doors in ten years, in both directions.

 

I think there is a problem when the safety of your school comes second to anything. I personally hated my high school administration, and did a lot to defy them and make them look bad, by using their own policies against them and 90% of the time it worked; but I could never make fun of them for the amount of precautions they took with any kind of threat that happened in our school; they are probably the greatest reason why Lincoln High School never made it into the news next to the war and disease issues that the TV pumps out.

 

Seriously, I could make fun of good ol' LHS for days at a time for how corrupt and to put it simply, stupid the policies and those that enforce them have become....but at least they never got anyone killed.   

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Just a start to the next four years. from Barely a woman, but 18 years in... on October 15, 2007 9:01 PM

This class has taught, and re-taught a few hundred great lessons for the field of journalism. In high school, I was only able to “join the journalism party, fashionably late” in the last semester of my senior year, so I... Read More

1 Comment

You've hit on one of the most powerful tools of journalism -- recording, truthfully, what people in power have to say. If their reasons for acting (or not acting) are weak, then the journalist who records their reasons is doing a public service. It might be that the principal didn't take a particular reporter's question seriously, which is a problem. But there's a difference between being too busy to answer a journalist's question (this really does happen) and saying you were "too busy" to do something that a large number of parents and citizens would probably feel was a huge component of the job of a principal.

Maybe the extent of the threat didn't seem urgent until later, or maybe there was some other crisis that the principal was dealing with at the time. If I were this reporter, I would have asked something like, "What do you think the parents of your students would say to your response that you were too busy to talk to them?" or "What were you doing at the time," in order to give the principal (who, remember, is dealing with a huge crisis and may not be experienced with talking to members of the media) the chance to think about the situationa and perhaps come up with a better answer.

But maybe that's the scholar in me, rather than the journalist -- if the principal gave that answer, on the record, to a member of the press, it certainly doesn't sound very reassuring or competent, so that response itself is probably pretty newsworthy.

You've really thrown yourself into this class, and the blogging assignments... I'm thrilled to see how much you have already learned, and (assuming I really do feel better when classes start up again) I can't wait to move on to the next part of the semester, and see how much farther we'll get.

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