Each week, the Collegian sends reporters to all corners of our campus, and even off-campus, to write about stories that affect our community. Our staff consists entirely of students who dedicate their time to shedding light on all sorts of issues with input from relevant voices. Because we are fully inclusive and do not require an application to be a staff writer, many reporters are learning on the job. This is something we treasure about our organization — the ability for any student to acquire marketable writing skills and explore often unseen aspects of the community. We also acknowledge that the Collegian makes mistakes, and we attempt to rectify these quickly and openly. However, there are some obstacles to reporting presented by this campus that cannot be overcome even by more experienced reporters. The most frustrating of these is the unwillingness of various administrators to be interviewed.
We understand that administrators have hectic lives and have to put their duties first, which we certainly appreciate. But, for the most part, we are not asking for more than 15 or 20 minutes every so often to discuss the group they oversee or a new policy they helped develop. Some administrators are quite agreeable when it comes to being interviewed; President Sean Decatur offers half an hour each week so that the Collegian’s editors-in-chief can get his take on various topics, and many others also make an effort to be available. It is when administrators make conscious efforts not to be available that our reporters must write stories without their vital input. The articles that result are incomplete because they lack information only administrators can provide.
The Collegian offers email interviews for administrators who are particularly slammed that week, but that option is one we prefer to use rarely because email quotes read as somewhat robotic and tend not to represent peoples’ thoughts as honestly. Email interviews also do not allow for immediate follow-up questions, which are crucial for thorough reporting. When administrators continually insist on email interviews or repeatedly decline to be interviewed, they are far less able to have their thoughts represented in any substantive way. Having to write that an administrator was interviewed by email or that they declined to comment can be a sign to readers that something is being kept from them, or that something is simply missing from the story. Our reporters aim to be tenacious, and administrators must understand that that is their job.