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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Mailbag: Oct. 10

    Investigative class pays respects, not insensitivity

    I’m writing in response to Caroline Nachazel’s recent op-ed piece “Rowan University investigative journalism class investigation show insensitivity.” 

    Before I go further, I want to say that I think the piece was well-written and the elements Ms. Nachazel used to frame her argument were cohesive and well-structured. That said, if she hopes to pursue a career in journalism, I would hope she rethinks her position.

    I think this may be the most intriguing, and potentially academically beneficial, class Rowan’s journalism department has ever offered. It provides students a unique opportunity to understand the emotions and challenges that come with crime reporting, something most of us have to learn in the field. 

    Crime reporters who cover murders don’t have four months or four years to wait before they write a story, they often have four hours. Would that, then, be the height of insensitivity? Crime reporting has long been a crucial part of journalism. Though you might cringe at the thought of approaching a grieving mother whose son or daughter was unjustly killed hours ago in a brutal murder, the societal importance of doing just that ripples far beyond a brief, and emotionally challenging, conversation.

    It offers an outlet for grief. It informs the community. It can aid law enforcement in apprehending suspects. It tells the story of a life lost.

    Any murder, regardless of circumstance or location, is a tragedy. But silencing discourse, muffling the power of amplification that the media (or in this case academia) has would be tremendously damaging.

    Will the students of Amy Quinn’s class solve Farrell’s murder case? Probably not. But it keeps the conversation alive, and who knows what that might inspire. I suspect that plays into why Farrell’s parents giving Quinn their blessing for the class and why they may speak to the students later in the semester.

    Even if nothing positive comes from it in regards to Farrell’s murder case, these 10 students will get firsthand experience in covering a murder, in understanding the emotional toll it takes on the web of people who knew the victim (and in turn, themselves), and that is invaluable.

    Murders leave emotional scars on victim’s friends and families that can last a lifetime, but no one personally touched by Farrell’s murder has to speak to any of these students. I doubt any of them will be overly aggressive in their pursuit of information.

    Ms. Nachazel wrote that campus deaths should be treated with the utmost respect. I think writing about Farrell’s life and unfair death is the height of respect. No one will know or care that someone died unless you tell them that they lived. 

    — Stephen Stirling,
    Rowan University alumnus
    Star-Ledger staff writer

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