Caudill: The Sunflower provides an independent platform for students


During a meeting about The Sunflower’s coverage with Chance Swaim, Matthew Kelly, and Ray Strunk, WSU General Counsel David Moses said that the student newspaper chooses only those stories that make the university look bad.

“Have you ever written a story about the effort Wichita State is making to reach out to the community, to be a part of the community, and to not maintain the status quo?” Moses asked. “No, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that.”

These claims struck a nerve with me for a couple reasons.

First, The Sunflower, as an independent student newspaper, holds no obligation to report information based on its reflection of the university — whether good or bad.

A significant part of The Sunflower’s job is to provide members of the Wichita State campus community with access to information, especially that which won’t be included in the university’s strategic communication platforms — like Shocker Blast.

When this information is open to the public, it enables a dialogue about important issues that may not be covered anywhere else – issues that campus community members at WSU have a right to discuss.

In the process, some of the stories published may not align with the reputation that the WSU administration aims to create. That is merely a result of the work, and not a premeditated goal.

The Society of Professional Journalists – a nationwide organization that represents and educates journalists – says in its Code of Ethics that journalists should “act independently” and “be free of obligation to any interest other than the public’s right to know.”

The priority of The Sunflower must not be the way in which its coverage reflects the university. Such a conflict of interest could compromise the integrity of the organization.

Secondly, I feel that Moses’ broad statements fail to acknowledge one of The Sunflower’s most vital roles — giving students a voice.

Since I began working at The Sunflower, I have seen a broad range of coverage over student life at Wichita State.

Both online and in-print, all four of the newspaper’s sections – News, Sports, Opinion, and Arts & Culture – provide a platform for students as well as the many programs and events they orchestrate.

Arts & Culture covers concerts, theatrical performances, art exhibits, and more. Profiles and photo galleries in this section work to paint the experience these student-led events provide.

Opinion, with topics ranging from beer and movies to campus policies and sports, displays the thoughts of Sunflower contributors and letters to the editor from various members of WSU’s campus community.

News covers crime and incidents, Student Government-sponsored events, new projects on campus, and more.

Sports, of course, provides coverage for Wichita State games, but it also provides an in-depth look into the lives of student athletes and the world of sports.

The students contributing to The Sunflower come from backgrounds as diverse as the topics they cover, and each of them work hard to ensure other hard work at WSU is represented and acknowledged.

So to Moses and others who feel The Sunflower conspires to paint the university in a “bad” light, I ask of you: read the entire paper thoroughly. You may find something you like.