Your View: How student reporters uphold professional standards

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COLUMBIA – Most viewers are aware that KOMU 8 News has many students working in its newsroom, and sometimes, that can lead to questions about how well student journalists uphold professional standards. 

In March, KOMU 8 News posted a web story after police arrested a man accused of damaging parking meters. When KOMU 8 News initially posted the story to the website, the full name of the man was not included. Only his last name was mentioned. 

We posted the story to Facebook, and several viewers noticed the mistake and commented on the post.

“Who proof reads this before they go out?” Megan Eldridge asked. 

Mark Abadir wrote, “We should hold journalists to a much higher standard for correctly reporting the news. This is the professional equivalent of an ambulance going to the wrong house and being given credit for getting close.” 

Another Facebook user compared KOMU 8 News’ journalism students to children.

“KOMU reporters are actually journalism students (children) who are ‘learning’ how to do the words good,” Mike Bellman posted.

KOMU 8 News corrected the web story and added an editor's note to say the story had been updated to include the full name of the suspect.

Bellman sat down with KOMU 8 News one-on-one to explain his comments.

“I felt when I read the news article that the story didn't really answer the ‘W’ questions: the who, what, when, where and why of the story,” he said. “And I feel sometimes that if a news story is important enough to be recorded, that it sometimes gives the public a disservice by not being the full and inclusive journalistic piece it could be.”

KOMU 8 News tries to be transparent about the fact that its reporters are students. On its website, under the “About KOMU 8” tab, it says, “KOMU 8’s newsroom creates a real-life lab experience for students attending The University of Missouri prestigious School of Journalism.”

It goes on to say, “While KOMU 8 strives to bring the best education to its students, the news station also works to bring mid-Missouri the best news coverage.”

KOMU 8 Executive Producer Josh Kranzberg said, even though the reporters are students, they are still responsible for producing professional content.

“Of course we hold high standards to our reporters. They work in an official newsroom that goes out over the airwaves,” he said. “So from a freshman to a senior, we hold our reporters and our producers and everyone in the newsroom to the highest standards.”

However, Kranzberg admits the students aren’t going to get it right every time.

“Mistakes are going to be made in any newsroom around the country or around the world,” he said. “So our goal is to obviously reduce them and make them as few and as far between as possible.”

How do you feel KOMU 8 News does as a learning lab for students? We want to hear from you. Let us know by commenting on this story, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or by emailing us at News@KOMU.com . Then tune in to KOMU 8 News on Fridays at 6 p.m. for your view of the news.

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