Journalism Professor and Students Discuss Des Moines Register Controversy

DES MOINES, Iowa -- College journalism students are learning and discussing as controversy surrounding Carson King and the Des Moines Register unfold.

Grand View University professor Dayne Logan said this has become a teachable moment for students on several levels.

“Because as members of the media, as much as we are opening others up to scrutiny, we are also public figures and we have to be willing for that backlash, for them to treat us just like we are treating them. And so if we are going to dig into somebody’s past, you must be ready for someone to dig into yours,” Logan said.

Grand View student Warner Pool said following the discussion about this situation, it’s given him the opportunity to reflect on his own role as a future journalist.

“Half of the job is just being authentic as a storyteller. For me personally, I don’t think you can go to class and then go to work and be a different person. Just carry that everywhere you go and then you have nothing to worry about,” Pool said.

In a statement, Des Moines Register editor Carol Hunter said reporter Aaron Calvin was assigned to interview Carson King for a profile piece and listed a routine background check as a standard part of that process. Logan said it’s always good to have more information but more so to be prepared for an interview.

“It’s not something I ever would have advised a student to do. Not necessarily because I think it’s wrong to do so, but it’s just not a natural place for me to go as a reporter. It doesn’t seem all that pertinent to the story, at least as the story had run its course to that point. You know, maybe they were trying to find more positive things. I can’t guess at what their motivations were,” Logan said.

Logan said this has also been a teachable moment for the media world.

“We need to take care with these things. We need to understand the power that we wield and we need to make sure that when we find a tough decision, that we don’t necessarily make it quickly in the name of being first,” Logan said.

Logan said it was tough to come to a conclusion about certain aspects of this situation because he feels a lot of it is in a gray area and would like to see more information about how the Des Moines Register made some of these decisions.

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