Journalism

After Casting Stones

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A few weeks ago, a college student wrote a letter to his local newspaper questioning the way a block party had been covered.

Specifically, he complained that the media had unfairly portrayed college students as “irresponsible” and suggested that accusations of “rowdy” behavior was unjustified.

This same student, who happens to be the student government president at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania, has now been arrested for driving under the influence, driving at an unsafe speed and careless driving, after reportedly driving 50 miles per hour through a 15-mile-per-hour zone and having a .147 blood-alcohol level, nearly twice the .08 legal limit.

In his letter to the paper, he wrote:

“[The stories have] painted BU students with a broad and negative brush and are both inaccurate and extremely unfair to the thousands of responsible, mature Bloomsburg students who are an asset to the school and this community.”

He has not commented on whether he will resign as president because of the arrest.

There’s also no mention of whether he intends to apologize for the letter about the “unfair” coverage that he felt so unfairly depicted college students’ actions as “alcohol-fueled,” now that his own actions have made their story seem more justified than ever.

One might wonder, “Who does more harm to the image of college life: some newspaper that describes alcohol use on campus, or a college student who is arrested for driving under the influence?”

When I was in college, if I ever said anything about the amount of alcohol consumed — and let’s stop deluding ourselves about it: a lot is consumed — it was suggested that I was being a “stuffed shirt” and that I needed to “loosen up.”

Maybe if we as a society took these kinds of reports seriously, instead of trying to blame the media for “exaggerating” a problem that doesn’t really exist at all, something might be done about it.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.