Name: Ken Armstrong
College publication: The Purdue Exponent
Where I am now: Reporter at ProPublica
I worked at the Purdue Exponent. That was a long time ago. (I graduated in 1985.) I learned:
You can make, and survive, mistakes.
Student journalists can compete with professional journalists.
You learn more from writing for a newspaper than reading from a textbook.
I learned other things, too, chief among them that I liked working at a newspaper. The Exponent opened the way to an unanticipated career, which was nice, especially when I learned that I didn’t much like my anticipated career.
Student journalists today are better than the student journalists of my day. They have to be. They deal with so much, so early. But their impact is extraordinary. High school journalists in Louisville broke one story after another last year about the Kentucky State Police; afterward, the police commissioner resigned and the governor ordered a review. College journalists at The Daily Tar Heel sued to get sexual assault records from the University of North Carolina. They fought in court for four years, going all the way to the North Carolina Supreme Court — where they won. (The university then took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court — where it lost.) We need student newspapers now more than ever. Please support them.