The Semi-Daily Kaylie: The natural dissonance between leaders and journalists

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Courtesy photo by Gage Skidmore.

I write about our student leaders very often. At least three times a week, my byline is printed on recaps of Student Governing Association meetings.

It’s certainly not the most interesting beat I could possibly be covering, but it’s mine for better or worse.

My week typically looks like this: Privilege Fee Committee on Monday, student senate on Thursday and some other committee scooped in there depending on the week. Sometimes it’s the Special Committee on Membership, the Tuition and Fees Strategies Committee or the Diversity Programming Committee, and sometimes it’s all of three.

I’m getting pretty well versed in the bylaws, the constitution and the statutes, and I can at least attempt to tell you which college each senator represents. I’ve crafted a network of sources and know how to push past the people who don’t want to talk to me (of which there are many).

By and large, my life revolves around SGA, and I can’t tell if that’s a good thing or not.

I can regurgitate funding information, tell you the progress and the identification number of most major legislation and tell you who on the Privilege Fee Committee voted for certain increases or continuances, but I have sacrificed all this knowledge for the available time to write what I really want to: long-form articles about accessibility, Title IX lawsuits, multicultural student affairs and other hot button topics.

Most of the time, I write good stuff. For instance, the approval of interim senators to fill the remainder of the term.

I’ve written about the amendments to the intern program that, after hours of heated debate, were rewritten to reflect the interests of all parties to the point that they passed unanimously. I wrote about how the Privilege Fee Committee voted to raise its allocation to Counseling Services by a recurring five percent over the next three years.

However, everything I write isn’t flattering. That’s not personal; that’s just the territory.

At times, I’ve printed front-page recounts of premature budget depletion, contradictions in two-year-old legislation and internal pushback against a series of bills that were being introduced with just two weeks left in the term.

The quotes I’ve included in some committee articles are sometimes harsh, and I worked with our editor-in-chief to rapidly cover the election complaints and repeal process.

Yes, my writing may seem harsh, and it might be brutal that I put the words and decisions of those we’ve elected to lead us on paper, but that’s my job.

It’s my job to write the good, the bad and the dirty, regardless of what the leaders might want. It is my job to write what students should know, and they should know how their money is spent, or how the decisions made behind closed doors will affect them.

It’s not personal when I write about bad times, and it certainly isn’t meant to be mean, but there is a natural dissonance between the people who lead and the people who write about the people who lead.

The leaders in the stories I cover might get mad, and they might step up to the podium and criticize the things I write, but I’m just doing my job.

And honestly, would I be very good at my job if I got upset every time I was criticized? It’s part of the territory, and I knew what I was signing up for when I jumped on this train.

Kaylie McLaughlin is the assistant news editor for the Collegian and a sophomore in mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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Kaylie Mclaughlin
My name is Kaylie McLaughlin and I'm the Editor in Chief of the Collegian. I grew up just outside of Kansas City in Shawnee, Kansas. I’m a junior in digital journalism with a minor in French and a secondary focus in international and area studies. As a third generation K-Stater, I bleed purple and my goal is to serve the Wildcat community with accurate coverage. I am fueled by a lot of coffee and I spend my (sparse) free time watching stand-up comedy.