Why being a student reporter is weird

By: Cody Boteler, Senior Editor

While it’s sometimes easy to forget when I’m in the middle of covering a breaking news story or doing a more in-depth investigation, I’m a student taking a full course load this semester, doing homework and cramming for midterms just like many of the people who will read this column.

Towson has done a lot of good for me. I’ll admit, Towson was never my top choice of a school, but I’ve wound up happy here. I like the look and feel of campus, I appreciate the greater community and I’ve made some incredible friends and met some great mentors and advisors.

That’s not even touching on the Honors College, which has put me into an incredible network on this campus – and is paying my tuition through a scholarship.

I care about this school and the area that I live in off campus. I care about this community.

That’s what can make reporting on it so damn awkward sometimes.

I report on what happens because I care about what happens, and I want other people to know about and care about what’s going on around here, too.

Sometimes, that means I’m profiling important people or covering an event that happens. In some cases, like when I wrote about the student-lead march during the so-called “Baltimore Uprising” last spring, I get to tell great stories about the amazing things that come out of this university.

And, other times, I have to do a bit of modern day muckraking to expose things that are happening at the university or university system level – it’s my job, and duty, as a reporter to make sure the public knows what’s going on.

No surprise, then, that sometimes I have to butt heads with this university that has given so much to me. I don’t take any pleasure in making the school look bad or in pointing out unethical behavior (though I will admit, getting a big scoop on a story is always exciting), it’s just me doing my job.

Earlier in the week, from The Towerlight Twitter account, I tweeted out that there is no Homecoming concert this year. While my original tweet was correct – there is no concert planned during Homecoming Week, according to the Homecoming events calendar – it lacked the context that there is some sort of a performance planned for later in the semester (probably in November, if a recent tweet from the Campus Activities Board means what I think it means).

(Let’s be real, though. Working with just 140 characters can be tough.)

I clarified the tweet so that there wouldn’t be any confusion. My intention in that tweet wasn’t to make CAB look bad, or to the university look like it wasn’t going to spend money on students, or anything like that. I tweeted it out because, thinking as a student, I would want to know that there was no concert scheduled during homecoming week this year.

Sure, before I clarified the tweet, it wasn’t the most responsible piece of information that I’ve proliferated, and I apologized for that.

I’m going to be sensitive to this university. I’m going to be careful about confirming facts and checking with multiple sources. But I will never apologize for doing my job.

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