Ms. Kinsolving’s Class Response to Press Secretary Spicer

Stratis Bohle

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On January 21st, Sean Spicer issued his first press statement as Press Secretary. He made the White House Press Corp wait one hour before starting the statement and then afterwards, did not answer a single question. Ms. Kinsolving, a teacher of 9th grade English at Centreville High School, took offense. Her father, Les Kinsolving, was a journalist who used to be in the White House Press Corp, who installed a sense of ethics in her as a young child.

Ms. Kinsolving has been teaching Media Literacy to her students throughout the year, and decided to show the Press Conference to her 7th period class. The class was appalled with Mr. Spicer’s actions and decided to write a letter to him using the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics as their evidence of his misdeeds.

The Media Literacy unit teaches students bias and other factors of manipulation they may receive in media. With the Press Secretary’s misinterpretation of the events using his power, it shows a reason to distrust the government.

“According to the Code of Ethics, the American people have a right to know what is going on …You have the responsibility to tell the truth,” said the letter. The students were ashamed of their administration and wanted to make their voices heard.

One student in the class shared his opinion of the press briefing and the Press Secretary’s attitude. He stated he “didn’t like President Trump, but the event was just shameful and disgusting even if he were a supporter of the president.”

During the Reagan administration, Mr. Kingsolving experienced the same in transparency that the current White House Press Corp is experiencing now when he asked about the AIDS crisis. Looking back on what her father had gone through, Ms. Kinsolving realized how much transparency mattered in the government and she wants to bring that back.

Dear Press Secretary Spicer:

 

We understand why you are so angry after receiving false tweets, because you serve our president; however, you shouldn’t lie to the press and the American people. According to the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics, you’re supposed to take responsibility for your actions. The press should be able to question the press secretary.

Your first mistake was making the press wait for around an hour. What you did was wrong, by disrespecting the press corps. This event was shameful. According to the Code of Ethics, the American people have a right to know what is going on. You are choosing your career over integrity. You have the responsibility to tell the truth.

You address the media — therefore, you must maintain integrity and answer questions. As the Code of Ethics states, “Resist internal and external pressure to influence coverage.”

Last but not least, you ran off like a coward, without answering any questions from the press corps. According to the Code of Ethics you didn’t avoid conflict and you didn’t act independently. You weren’t transparent by not allowing anyone to ask questions. You acted petty.

You need to be, as the Code of Ethics states, “accountable” and “respond quickly to questions.”

In terms of journalistic power, you are at the top. Do not betray your principles. Prove yourself as a journalist who can be trusted. You disobeyed the Code of Ethics in many ways. You have to be honest and have credibility. You violated “Gather, update, and correct information throughout the life of a news story,” and “respond quickly to questions about accuracy, clarity, and fairness.”

Before your next press briefing please think about what you will be saying. Everything goes up on social media. Follow the Code of Ethics and be credible and truthful.

 

Sincerely,

Ms. Kinsolving’s 7th Period Class

Read the companion piece: SPJ Code of Ethics

Stratis Bohle, Staff Contributor

Stratis Bohle is a junior who has been in Journalism for two years. He took Journalism because he loves the chaos that comes with the news. Stratis has...

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Ms. Kinsolving’s Class Response to Press Secretary Spicer