YOUR VIEW: KOMU 8's Decision to Run Fayette Prayer Suit Story

3 years 4 months 2 weeks ago December 08, 2013 Dec 8, 2013 Sunday, December 08 2013 Sunday, December 08, 2013 10:28:00 AM CST in News
By: Addison Walton and Xiaoyun Wu, KOMU 8 Reporters
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FAYETTE - On Nov. 20 and 21, KOMU ran two stories that about the Fayette School District being sued for having teacher sponsored and school promoted prayer sessions at the area high school. Many viewers posted comments via Facebook about the story and questioned our decision to run the story despite not being able to speak with the District Superintendent or the teacher. In this week's your view we took a look at why KOMU ran this story.

On Nov. 20, a KOMU 8 reporter investigated the American Humanist's Association suit against the Fayette School District. For KOMU's story that ran on Nov. 20, both the American Humanist Association and the Fayette School District would not speak with our reporter. The next day, KOMU spoke with Gavin Hunt, one of the students involved in the suit against the school district, but did not speak with the School District. The school district did issue a press release later in the day.

KOMU received numerous complaints via our Facebook page about our decision to air the story.

Viewer Cary Smith commented on the story saying "KOMU it is stories like these that you should not be involved in. There is no purpose in this being news. it is an outside group. you are gearing your titles and words towards an expected allegation against school or teachers."

KOMU 8 News Director Stacey Woelfel says an effort was made to react out towards other students in Fayette to hear their thoughts on the allegations, but they did not want to talk.

"A lot of people have come up to say you've got the story wrong and you should talk to me or talk to somebody and every time we try to reach out to someone, no one wants to talk," Woelfel said.

Gary Grigsby, an Associate Professor at the Missouri School of Journalism says sometimes when you reach out to certain offices to get comment about a story, legally they aren't allowed to speak, but an effort should continue to be made to reach out to the school district.

"In this case, the school district couldn't really say anything at this point in time and they weren't available but in terms of follow-up that sort of thing, an effort should be made to really go after and give the school district maybe a little more equal footing for the story," Grigsby said.

The two stories received more than 100 comments, lots of them coming from Facebook. Many of the comments debated if religion had a role in the public school system.

One viewer, Cheyenne Greene, commented "KOMU, how do you know the school promotes a religions environment? If the students promote their own belief, why is that an issue?"

So what do you think? Should we have covered the lawsuit against the school district?

Let us know via Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus.

Then watch Friday nights at six as we report Your View of the news.

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