Yes, Student Newspapers Should Cover Bin Laden Killing

Question: I received an email last night from a student journalist that at one point noted, “The death of OBL [Osama Bin Laden] is mega-big news . . . [b]ut we’re not exactly drowning in foreign correspondents and military operations know-how over here, you know?  Is it really something our student newspaper should cover?

Answer: Yes, absolutely.  Bin Laden’s death– and second-day stories related to it– deserve front page/homepage play this week within student newspapers nationwide (at least those still publishing).

First, your newspaper may be the main or only source students and others on campus rely upon for information on this story beyond the “death texts” they received from friends Sunday night and the YouTube video they watched of the president’s speech soon after.

Second, your newspaper can very nicely complement the coverage already out there– no foreign correspondents or military operations know-how required.

In February 2007, Jeff Jarvis famously advised news outlets, “Cover what you do best.  Link to the rest.”  Follow this mantra in coverage of all “mega-big” stories. Even at Harvard, student newspaper readers are not expecting an exclusive behind-the-scenes blow-by-blow of how the U.S. took Bin Laden out.  That is where The New York Times comes in.  But readers should expect– and deserve– campus-specific follow-ups and stories discussing this news from the higher ed. perspective.

Along with running a basic “Bin Laden is Dead” 10-incher, a majority of student news outlets have focused in the last 36 hours on three side stories— the spontaneous student celebrations erupting after the news broke; the reactions of professors and others on campus with international/intellectual prowess who are not being quoted anywhere else; and reflections on the death’s meaning for current students who were in grade school when 9/11 occurred.

Future stories might include sitdowns with campus figures/students/alums with direct 9/11 connections (including those who lost a family member in the attacks); reactions of student military veterans and the campus ROTC; glimpses at how the news spread among students (a tech/social media piece or a more straightforward ‘where were you when you heard’ rundown); and firsthand accounts from students studying abroad, possibly in the Middle East (if anyone’s still out of the country this late in the semester).

Other ideas for follow-up stories, or interesting angles you have already seen covered?

One Response to “Yes, Student Newspapers Should Cover Bin Laden Killing”
  1. han says:

    thanks this helped me think more about whether college newspapers should include social topics