Best College Newspaper Stories of the Year: ‘Tragedy in Transition’ (Daily Kansan)

One of my favorite student newspaper story series of the year centered on death.  In a powerful four-part report, The Daily Kansan told the tales of three KU students who lost a parent during their time in school.  It is, as the series headline states, a “tragedy in transition.”

The haunting stat in the introduction that provides a grounding for the stories’ newsworthiness: One in 10 individuals deals with the death of mom or dad before turning 25.  And yet, as a prominent sociology professor is paraphrased telling the Kansan‘s Kelly Stroda, “[T]here is little research conducted on college students and the death of a parent.”

Stroda’s series is not quantitative research, but it is damned good reporting.  Her focus is on Lindy, Ed, and Chris.  She captures the trio’s heartrending memories of the moment death entered their undergraduate experience, the emotional hole it has etched, and their baby steps toward healing.  As she writes early on:

Many college students . . . are preparing for independence by educating themselves for future careers while still depending on parents for help with tuition, health and car insurance and transportation.  They are exploring relationships with potential partners, while celebrating holidays and family milestones with mom and dad. They are living on their own in dorms, fraternities and sororities and apartments, yet often thinking of their parents’ house where they grew up as ‘home.’  They are responsible for clothing and feeding themselves, while sometimes hauling laundry bags full of dirty clothes home to mom and dad and appreciating their home-cooked meals. In short, the leap from dependent child to independent adult is more daunting for any college student without the help of a parent who has been there before and is now– suddenly– gone.”

Separate but equal kudos to “In the Aftermath,” a six-part Kansan series on the prevalence and consequences of student sexual assault.

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  1. […] As I wrote recently, one of my favorite college newspaper stories of the past year was a powerful four-part Daily Kansan report that tells the tales of three Kansas University students who lost a parent during their time in school.  It is, as the series headline states, a “tragedy in transition.” […]



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