Trust fall journalism

It’s been said that if you want something done right, you must do it yourself. But what about when doing it yourself just isn’t an option?

I was in Grand Rapids for the Michigan Press Association conference when the biggest Ferris-related news of the year broke: the Venlo shooting.

After I woke up at 8 a.m. Saturday to a text message that a Ferris student had been shot and the suspect was still at large, my first few moments were ones of panic. How was I supposed to cover the situation from an hour away?!

As much as I wanted to be on the scene myself, the reality was it just wasn’t possible. So, without wasting another second, I called the Torch news editor to get the ball rolling.

A newspaper friend of mine, who was also working the desk during the search for the suspect, appropriately called our circumstances “trust fall journalism.”

At first, it was scary to cross my arms, close my eyes and fall backward into the unknown. My staff, many of whom are in their first year at the Torch, had never covered an event of this magnitude. I didn’t know what to expect.

Long before the suspect was apprehended, it became obvious that my trust fall hadn’t landed me flat on my back. My staff was there to catch me.

Several members of the Torch staff worked tirelessly to keep the Ferris community up-to-date.

I’d like to recognize Lindsey Hogan, Taylor Hooper, Ben Rettinhouse and Harrison Watt for the level of professionalism they displayed. It far exceeds that of any student journalists I’ve ever met.

Each and every one of the aforementioned staffers rose to the challenges presented by breaking news. They were eager to help and understood their roles, thus allowing our newspaper to do its job and serve the readers.

While the shooting at Venlo was a tragedy, it’s moments like this that show the value of newspapers and the journalists who staff them.