Damage Can Be Done

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Since I was home over break, I found it really weird that by chance I was learning about editorials while my youngest sister was learning the same in her journalism class. Her weekend assignment had been to draft an editorial piece. She just so happened to ask my advice on what she should write on...so I gave her some.

I noticed that my sister had the same high-school-writer issues that I used to have at that time. Although she could write well, she was really one-sided in her writing in most cases, mostly because she was passionate about what she was writing. For her editorial piece, I tried to explain some of what I had learned from our class, that you had to show both sides of the story usually in order to make it effective and not a turn off to readers. I also told her that she had to be careful what she chose to write because it could influence people, for better or for worse.

As an example of how powerful an editorial can be, I referred to an editorial that had recently been written in my local newspaper. Previously to the publication of this particular editorial, an article had been published addressing a recent scandel at my high school. The superintendent, who is also the high school girls basketball coach, recently permitted three star athletes to remain in the schools honor society, despite that the rules for the organization clearly state that members caught cheating will not be tolerated. The school board was up in arms over his decision, the teacher-advisor for the organization resigned, and parents of students who had been kicked out for cheating in the past were banging on the school board room doors. The original article didn't list the students' names or sports, and didn't seem heated in any opinion. It was just simply stating the facts that had been submitted to the paper.

The editorial on the other hand, was very opinionated and very blunt about expressing the opinion. The author called not for responsibility to be taken by the superintendent, but by the student athletes themselves. It called them to personally step down from the society in order to make up for the bad scene they had caused.

Although I disagreed with the decision the superintendent made, I thought the editorial had expressed too much opinion and had gone too far. Although it too didn't mention the students' names, it was still calling them out. People in our community already knew who the students were, so it was even more embarrassing for their parents. I think the worst part about it was the writer failed to acknowledge that the students had only taken the opportunity that was given to them by the superintendent, which was community service. Once again, I disagreed with this scenario, but the students were taking the advice of someone who they saw as an authority figure to make up for the wrongs they had done. I'm sure if the original solution had been asking the students to step down, they would have. WIth this point, I think the writer of the editorial had been too heated in the wrong direction and had done damage to kids and their families.


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