Danger of Bad Journalism


Marine Leadership Academy main entrance.

Last March, on the 29th, Block Club Chicago published an article named “Bullying, Fights And A Mental Health Crisis: Marine Leadership Academy In Turmoil After Sex Abuse Scandal, Parents Say,” by Mina Bloom. After a full year of the unfortunate events that took place at our school, the media doesn’t seem to let us forget it. It seems that their investigative journalism must need some work to paint the true picture of MLA. They’re claim is loose, their sources are not varied, and they frame the school as if no actions have been taken. These signs of bad journalism are affecting the way the community sees us and weakening their trust with us.

A fight every 22 to 20 days does not seem to fit in the category of “regularly.”

— David Fernandez

Let’s start with the fact that their claims do not match the actual school experience. One claim that immediately screamed in my face was that “school employees regularly break up fights between students….” I can’t speak for all students but, I’ve only heard of seven, maybe eight fights in the 158 days since school started. A fight every 22 to 20 days does not seem to fit in the category of “regularly.” This rate also doesn’t paint the full picture. All these fights can be canceled out by March madness, community days, and senior prom. Events like these help students entertain themselves instead of looking for fights. MLA is actually doing better than other schools that I have heard of. Our school isn’t filled with violent students that cause trouble.
The school should also have a say in what they report. After all, we are primary sources. Mina Bloom didn’t try to ask any students. The closest she got was getting a secondary source from the parent of one cadet. No cadets were mentioned and the faculty were not given ample time to respond to Mina Bloom’s questions. This isn’t investigative journalism. It is just a rushed tabloid article to start a riot. Mina Bloom failed to systematically evaluate the information and did not have in-depth knowledge of the actions taken by the school and the current state of the school (Kaplan).

Safe-T Spot in the cafeteria. (by David Fernandez)

If she did look in-depth for what the school has been doing, she would’ve found out of the schools counselors that are available for students, the Safe-T spot that students can enter at any time to talk to others, and the student voice committee that are held where students can personally voice their opinions. The school is not ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away. It is actively helping its students get better.
How can you give information without getting both sides of the stories? What if there is a reasonable explanation to a problem? How is this affecting the school? These questions need to be asked when reviewing investigative journalism. As stated in an article written by Steven Pinker discussing the dangers of misinformation, “people estimate the probability of an event or the frequency of a kind of thing by the ease with which instances come to mind.” These constant articles of the past events have caused the community to only see that bad side of the school. If they are only fed the wrong information, without giving the defendant a chance to speak, the community will not want to associate with MLA even if we have improved.
In short, the article written by Mina Bloom is spreading misinformation that threatens the reputation of the school and is a prime example of misguided journalism. The claims made have little truth to them. They only have information from one side of the story. It does not give the school credit for the action that they have taken to help students. The way that the article is written can worsen our image with parents considering sending their children here. We are Marine Leadership Academy. A school that does not have a crisis. A school that has the necessary resources. A school that is proud of the name. We are MLA.

Works Cited

Bloom, Mina. “Bullying, Fights And A Mental Health Crisis: Marine Leadership Academy In Turmoil After Sex Abuse Scandal, Parents Say.” Block Club Chicago, 29 March 2023, https://blockclubchicago.org/2023/03/29/marine-leadership-academy-bullying-fights-and-a-mental-health-crisis-in-turmoil-after-sex-abuse-scandal-parents-say/. Accessed 30 March 2023.
Kaplan, David E. What Is Investigative Journalism? 5 February 2018. YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCVU52T6Cbs. Accessed 24 April 2023.
Pinker, Steven. “The media exaggerates negative news. This distortion has consequences | Steven Pinker.” The Guardian, 17 February 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/17/steven-pinker-media-negative-news. Accessed 24 April 2023.