Two weeks of great writing

In IDS on February 8, 2013 at 4:20 pm

I’m a little biased, but the last two weeks of the IDS have produced some really great stuff.

Specifically I’m thinking of four great stories that have been in the works for a few months.

I’ll get the conflict of interest out of the way and start with my story on Bob Knight. Knight recently auctioned his championship rings, and I used the auction as an opportunity to evaluate Knight’s legacy and his relationship with the university.


0000-Kn2069423603The coach’s messy departure from IU — the firing, the lawsuits, the riot — was almost as legendary as his winning record. Since then, the university had repeatedly tried to reach out to him, inviting him to be honored at public rituals of commemoration. But the answer was always no.

Now, when the Hoosiers were back on top, Knight was selling off emblems of collective memory, even the ring symbolizing the unmatched perfection of 1976.

Was he just being a good granddad? Or was he telling IU that all those years together meant nothing?

After my Knight story ran, Claire Wiseman wrote about the many factors that lead to a 107-2 score at a girls’ high school basketball game between Bloomington South and Indianapolis Arlington.


0000-sp1906392057These teams hadn’t faced each other in eight seasons. The last time they had played, in 2004, Bloomington South won 52-42. Back then, Arlington’s enrollment in seventh through twelfth grades was around 1,500 students. This year, unofficial numbers provided to the Indiana High School Athletic Association place it at 422.

Bloomington South’s enrollment last year was 1,699. This season, Arlington was by far the smallest school on Bloomington South’s schedule.

The December game between them was far from typical. Holmes said Arlington asked Bloomington South to play them when Arlington needed to fill a hole in their schedule. Both sides, he said, were aware of the teams’ differences.

“They knew it was going to be a mismatch,” Holmes said, “but they wanted their girls to experience playing against good teams.”

Arlington asked. Bloomington accepted.

Later in the week, Colleen Sikorski took a look at the phenomenon of “victim blaming” that sexual assault victims experience. She talked to victims, counselors and professionals to get a fully-balanced story.


0000-YE-1796640068He said his name was Brandon. He said he was a 23-year-old psychology major at IU and that he was from Ellettsville, Ind. She now doubts his story.

She invited Brandon to head home with her that night from the Taco Bell parking lot. She made it clear to him she didn’t want to have sex. She thought they wouldn’t go much further than making out. He seemed accommodating.

While “fooling around,” he pinned her arms back so her hands were at the sides of her head. She froze. And then he raped her, taking her virginity.

Nearly 17 months after the rape, she’s more eager to be the sober driver for nights out drinking. But she refrains from making a rule to always be in charge of car keys for the night. Making rules doesn’t help her admit it wasn’t her fault. Friends still suggest she not get drunk “this time.”

“That doesn’t make sense,” she said. “Instead of ‘don’t rape,’ people say ‘don’t get raped.’ It’s not fair.”

Then there’s the rebirth of the IDS investigation desk thanks to freshman Sam Schmidt’s look into race at IU. As it tuns out, the percentage of African-American students at IU has consistently hovered at 4 percent since 1975. Along with online multimedia, really solid work from the investigations team.


0000-Un-1887071935For five years, Williams has been “the black girl” in class, the one who is always called on to answer questions about race, she said.

She said she no longer wants to be one of only five black students in a 200-person lecture hall.

Lott said she is tired of walking around campus and not seeing students who look like her.

“We dedicate four, five years of our lives here,” Lott said. “This is our world. I should feel like I have some say, some impact. I should be taken care of.”

Great stuff all around, and it’s only February. Mr. Auslen and his team are doing some fine work.


  1. Thanks, Charlie! It was definitely a strong week for enterprise stories, and I was happy to see that many of these stories had a social justice angle to them. I’d love to hear Claire’s behind-the-scenes reporting story about how she got her sources to open up to her after being hounded by national media. One quick thing I want to add is that my story idea came from reader response to sexual assault briefs I wrote as the IUPD reporter.

    I was sitting in the WFIU/WTIU newsroom when a fellow student said the woman in that days’ P1 rape brief “should’ve known better” than to take a guy back to her dorm room without expecting sex, which really surprised me. One or two other females in the newsroom chimed in to agree with this student. I heard this sentiment echoed in my journalism ethics class discussions, and that got me thinking that this might be a good issue to address in a college newspaper.

    In a way, I think my story is just one more example that reporters should always keep eyes and ears open for reader reactions to their stories. The IDS does a great job reporting about big issues on campus, but I’m convinced there are more great story ideas hidden in comments, tweets, Facebook postings and before-class discussions. Keep up the great reporting, everyone!

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