The Controversy Surrounding the North Andover Volleyball Captain

In class the other day we discussed the story about the former North Andover High School volleyball captain, Erin Cox, and how we as journalists would cover the story. When we discussed the issue, our class was under the impression that Cox was not attending the party, rather, she was only stopping by to pick up a drunk friend. We were under that impression because of the news stories that were circulating at the time. But now, there has been new allegations from other students who attended the party against Cox on social media, where they said Cox was in fact attending the party and drinking alcohol.

The Cox family’s attorney, Wendy Murphy, denied the claims against Cox and used the police’s statement as a reason to ignore what students have been saying on social media. But although the statement of a police officer at the scene said that it was clear that Cox did not have the “slightest” odor of alcohol, her fellow classmates thought otherwise, and made their opinions public on Facebook.

This story is extremely interesting because it’s combining many different discussions we’ve had in class. Cox’s story includes the use of social media, breaking a story before fact checking, and the level of objectivity a story should have as a journalist.

Social media can be both a friend and an enemy for journalists to use. While social media allows for us to share news with our followers, just because someone posts something on Facebook doesn’t make it true. In Cox’s case, maybe her classmates are jealous that Cox is receiving national attention, so they are spreading rumors about her on the Internet; But maybe they aren’t spreading rumors, rather, they feel the need to expose the truth to the public.

Right now there is no way to fully know what’s fact and what’s fiction, so as a journalist is it right to use social media as a source? In my opinion, I believe that social media is a great way to find out what people are talking about, but if a journalist does not investigate the story further, then there will be many errors in his or her reporting of the story.

On a Yahoo blog by Ben Rohrbach, he made an important point about how journalists should sometimes wait for a story to play out, rather than to be the first one to break it. Rohrbach said, “So, from here on out, we’ll self-impose a ‘fool me twice’ policy to this saga. Before we start jumping on the Cox family for sticking to a falsified story as it received national media attention, maybe we should just let this one play out a bit more.” I agree with Rohrbach; sometimes, being right trumps being the first to report a story.

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3 Responses to The Controversy Surrounding the North Andover Volleyball Captain

  1. dugn8r says:

    Did you see this site made for Erin Cox? http://www.nashame.com/ They are offering a $2000 reward for dirt on the school administrators of the North Andover High School

  2. Bennett K says:

    There have been so many different sides to this story that have come out I don’t know which to believe. There’s her side that she was just picking up a friend. There was another side that came out that said she was actually at the party and drinking. But that story was redacted. So I don’t know who to believe. I think that what the school should do is wait for the final parts of the story to come out before they decide what to do with her.

  3. jennyschreer says:

    I agree that this is a tricky situation because it really is hard to know who to tell who is telling the truth. I just tried to do some more researching since it has been a while, but I haven’t found any new news. But, I agree with you with that I think social media is a great way to report information, especially breaking news. But it is not worth the risk or reporting a story if it is not 100% confirmed that it is true. Social media can be a great way to confirm stories, but sometimes it can be quite difficult, especially with young adults. So many young kids can lie, like you pointed out, simply because they are jealous of the attention. But waiting out for everything to be confirmed and accurate seems like the right way to go.

    And no offense to this girl or anything, but it is just an underage drinking offense and she lost her captaincy. I’m not saying that this isn’t a serious issue, but underage drinking offenses happen ALL the time and it’s not like any one got hurt in the process. I know losing her role as a captain sucks, but worse things could have happened. So I find this crazy that there is so much back and forth happening with something like this. But at the end of the day, someone is in the wrong and they will look stupid for lying.

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