I have been asked to write a response to the open letter written by Gail Jessen about my latest service-learning article. I honestly am not sure how to respond to this letter. I have never been put in a position where someone decided to write an “open letter” instead of first coming to talk to me. Neither Jessen nor the Thayne Center attempted to contact me beforehand, and I really wish they had.
To give everyone some background of what is going on – I wrote an article during last fall semester about service-learning; what it is and how students felt about being in a service-learning class. I decided to follow the students of one English 2010 service-learning class taught by Liz Montague. This article showed that students were excited about this learning style and were excited about the class.
In the original fall article, I quoted English 2010 service-learning student Jesse Brake, the rest of his service-learning group, along with other students. How the students felt was the theme of the article.
I recently wrote a follow up article titled “Service-learning: How they feel now” that, once again, was about the students. The article was not intended to be about the instructors or the Thayne Center. The article was about the students and their experience in this particular service learning class. I quoted Jesse Brake again, along with an anonymous student, therefore using two sources. I have been accused of quoting just one source and that is not the case.
However, I should mention that I sent out a mass e-mail to 10 students that contained some very objective questions, attempting to discover whether or not they liked the class and why. Two students got back in contact with me; both had negative things to say. I am not going to alter what students are saying to make other people happy. I am a journalist, I write things how they are. If that upsets people, so be it. Next time though, I will make sure to mention that I attempted to contact other students, none of which responded.
My article was called an opinion/editorial and it was said that it should have been in the opinion section. My article has been called un-objective, irresponsible and un-researched. Had people read both part one and part two of the article, they would see that I did do my research. Had people read my most recent article more carefully, they would see that my personal opinion is not reflected.
I really wish people would have attempted to address their concerns with me rather than writing this “open letter” and publishing it on the Thayne Center’s blog, twitter and Facebook account. I would have been more than happy to make people understand where I was coming from and why my article didn’t have more than two sources. Again, the premise of the article was what the students thought about the class and I presented information from the only students who responded. Next time, I will be certain to indicate that several students declined to comment.
*Note from The Globe Editor-in-Chief: All involved parties conclude that this experience has been mutually beneficial and a great learning experience for all sides. As Editor-in-Chief, I acknowledge the responsibility of ensuring the standard of fair and objective journalism be upheld in The Globe. We failed to inform our readers that several sources chose not to comment and contribute to Bryanna’s article. The opinions reflected in the article were those of two students who did respond. We are a student-run newspaper and these situations allow us to learn, grow and become better at our trade. The Thayne Center and service-learning faculty have also benefited from this experience, as it has prompted them to review and reflect upon their own work and curriculum. The Globe and Thayne Center have had a long-standing relationship and it is our aim to maintain this relationship well into the future.