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About Our Absence From The THON Showcase

THON devotees and loyal readers alike may have noticed our slate of stories published this week did not include a post on what happened inside the first-ever THON Showcase, which was held Thursday night at Eisenhower Auditorium. I’d like to explain why our editorial board decided not to cover the event, and why it was purposeful and not just an oversight on our part.

I arranged earlier this week with THON’s public relations committee for a reporter and a photographer from Onward State to cover the event, and confirmed on Tuesday our two staffers were on the media list. Thursday morning, THON notified me press covering the event would be required to purchase tickets to the event, which cost $8 per person.

My first question should come as no surprise: “Why?”

Onward State covers THON relentlessly, has done so for years, and, in my opinion, does so quite well. Paying to cover an event is unprecedented for not only THON, but every organization we cover, and even more so on such short notice.

We’re committed to covering the news and topics that are relevant to our readers, but, simply put, we won’t pay to cover newsworthy events, and refuse to set any sort of precedent that condones this practice. For this reason, we chose not to cover the event itself, and instead “covered” the showcase from outside the building.

Adriana Lacy, the editor in chief of student media outlet The Underground, said her publication received the same notification Thursday morning.

“As a media outlet, we don’t attend events for pleasure, but for reporting newsworthy events around campus for our readers,” Lacy said. “It’s disappointing to pay for events that we cover, as our staff members are working, not enjoying the event.”

I could not agree more. Unfortunately, I never received an answer to my original question about why THON made this decision. I was instead informed the goal of the event is to unite and showcase the talent of the THON community, and all attendees would be required to buy a ticket with no exceptions. As Lacy put it best, our staff members are working when they cover an event, not enjoying it. THON’s public relations director clarified the showcase was “not a requirement from THON.” In actuality, no outlet is required to cover any THON events, including this week’s showcase.

Let me be clear. This isn’t about the $8 ticket price, though I’m certain some student journalists on campus would not be able to afford to cover the event. This isn’t about where the proceeds go — I’m well aware, and was reminded Thursday, that the ticket fee directly benefits THON and Four Diamonds children fighting cancer. It’s about the principle.

“Thankfully, we were able to reimburse our staffers for the event, but we were definitely caught off guard by the late notice that we would have to pay, and to be honest, the fact we had to pay at all,” Lacy said.

I also reached out to The Daily Collegian and was referred to an editor, who did not immediately respond to the request.

To see comprehensive coverage of the event:

The Underground | In Photos: THON Talent Showcase

About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa is a junior public relations major and the managing editor of Onward State. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Send questions and comments via e-mail ([email protected]) and follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.


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