Opinion: This is what journalism looks like

Jody Michael

Jody Michael

Jody Michael is a junior broadcast journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact Jody Michael at [email protected].

A new study by the journal Pediatrics found the amount of Americans under age 23 that have been arrested is somewhere between 25 and 41 percent.

In comparison, among the 16 members of the Kent State men’s basketball team, seven players (44 percent) have a combined 13 arrests and citations during their time here. Daily Kent Stater reporter Doug Brown published these facts in a report last month about the athletic department’s failure to abide by its policy for punishing arrested players.

I was interested to discover if these students, arguably Kent State’s most recognizable, are abusing their free tuition by getting arrested an unusually high amount of times. But it’s difficult to know if that’s above or below average, because the Pediatrics study’s results are imprecise and also don’t include minor traffic violations.

Perhaps the more troubling part of the Stater report, though, is that in those 13 incidents, only once has a player missed playing time because of it.

Unfortunately, the day this report was a front-page story in the Stater, the team wasn’t around to read or hear about it. The Flashes were traveling to Virginia that day for a game against James Madison University. Hopefully someone saved the players a few copies of the paper or sent them the link to read it online.

Few stories receive more than a thousand page views on kentwired.com, maybe one or two in a good week. This story, however, has 2,877 “hits” and climbing, as well as a lot of reactions in the comments section.

It shocked me to find a few posts on Facebook, Twitter and KentWired that criticized the Stater for publishing a story that makes Kent State look bad. Mind you, nobody argued that the facts were incorrect, just that the Stater shouldn’t print something so embarrassing.

I don’t understand that argument at all. What would those same critics say if the Akron Beacon Journal refused to publish robbery or assault incidents from within city limits because they made Akron look bad? What if the Wall Street Journal never mentioned how Wall Street helped cause the economic recession?

The Daily Kent Stater is not some public-relations arm of the university, putting Kent State in the best light possible in order to attract more new students. Our writers are all students, and they are responsible solely to their editors, who are also students.

Our job is to tell you relevant facts like this: While your $4,673 tuition bill was due last week, the basketball players enjoy full-ride scholarships. Most of the athletic department’s funding comes from the more than $250 taken from each student’s tuition every semester.

Knowing this, don’t you find it important to know that one of your school’s basketball players pled guilty in May to urinating on the door of a local business?

If you’re sick of reading stories about basketball players getting arrested, don’t tell the Stater to start keeping secrets. Tell the guilty players to start obeying the law.