The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

​BROOM: Exceeding expectations

The Cavalier Daily provided exceptional reporting and concise summaries of events in the wake of the Martese Johnson incident

Once again there was a disturbing event involving a University student and once again the staff of The Cavalier Daily has risen to the occasion in reporting it. Martese Johnson was arrested early Wednesday morning and since then The Cavalier Daily has seemed to be everywhere on the story. As they did covering previous stories that attracted the attention of the country, the writers and editors have delivered work that kept up with or exceeded other outlets.

I again applaud the decision to have a single writer handle most of the reporting. It helps limit the chaotic feeling when there is so much information coming so quickly. Chloe Heskett has done a good job handling all of it. She and the rest of the Managing Board (Heskett is the managing editor) also made the appropriate decision to have her sit out from the lead editorial on March 19.Avoiding the appearance of bias is important and that was an important choice to get right.

Beyond good reporting on Heskett’s part, the paper offered an outlet and a focal point for readers. There are hundreds of comments across the pieces, both News and Opinion, about Johnson’s arrest. I thought the roundup of statements and responses was particularly helpful.In part, it helped show how quickly the story moved beyond just the University or Charlottesville.

That the story was national was evident, especially from outside Charlottesville. I was in Washington, D.C. at the end of the week and both CNN and MSNBC led off-hours with segments on the story. I noted as I watched and also read coverage in the Washington Post that I didn’t learn anything from those national outlets I hadn’t already learned from The Cavalier Daily. Indeed, The Cavalier Daily had the first interview with the owner of Trinity, the bar outside of which the arrest happened.

While I think the coverage, overall, has been very good, I do have some concerns. Primarily, I’m struck by the fact that the core of the reporting on this story has been done by two members of the Managing Board. Chloe Heskett and Julia Horowitz (the editor-in-chief) have done a good job in writing, but ideally it shouldn’t be them doing it. The limitations of being a volunteer, collegiate publication show here, I think. On a story like this, it’s important to get it right and it makes sense to turn to the most experienced people you have. In the case of The Cavalier Daily, that’s almost always going to be the members of the Managing Board. Once those people step back into a reporting role, though, I think it becomes more difficult to maintain a bright line between News and Opinion at least as far as that story is concerned.

From a more mechanistic perspective, I have questions (or perhaps nits to pick) about a few things. In the main news article about Johnson and the events of early Wednesday morning there was the note: “This is a developing story, and will continue to be updated with the latest information available.” I presume there were, indeed, updates but none of them were labeled. From the perspective of the reader, it would be helpful (or at least interesting) to know what information was known or reported when. I’d also be interested to know more about how the interview with Trinity owner Kevin Badkewas “limited.” It was described in the article as a “limited exclusive interview.” I simply don’t know what that means and would have appreciated more of an explanation with the article.

Christopher Broom is the Public Editor for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at publiceditor@cavalierdaily.com or on Twitter at @CDPublicEditor.

Comments

Latest Podcast

In this week's episode, we take a deep dive into the history and future of OK Energy as well as how its founder juggles his beverage-creation endeavors with being a full-time University student. Tune in to hear how Evan Nied made his entrepreneurial dream a reality.