5 Times Student Newspapers Broke Big Stories

Anyone who is curious to see what the future of journalism holds should pick up a student-run newspaper. In between the new teacher profiles and sports highlights, they may find hard-hitting stories that rival reporting done for award-winning national outlets. Here are five examples of articles written by high school and college students that led to real-world results.


Maddie Baden, a junior at Pittsburg High School in Pittsburg, Kansas and co-editor of the school’s newspaper, didn’t intend to break a major news story. When it was announced on March 6 that Amy Robertson had been hired as the school’s new principal, Baden volunteered to write a profile on her. But what should have been a straightforward piece quickly morphed into an in-depth investigation of Robertson’s credentials, according to The New York Times.

The real reporting began when basic details Robertson gave in her interview didn’t check out. Corllins University, the institution from which Robertson claimed to have earned her master’s and doctorate degrees, lists no physical address on its website. Further research revealed that Corllins is an online university that’s been accused of not offering proper accreditation to its students. Baden, along with other student staff members at The Booster Redux, published the front-page story titled “District Hires New Principal: Background called into question after discrepancies arise” on March 31. By April 4, Robertson had resigned “in light of the issues that arose,” according to a board statement. For their part in uncovering the truth, the kids made headlines of their own.


In December 2007, students at Massachusetts’s Newton South High School were unsettled to read that hidden cameras had been installed around their halls in secret. Teachers on the school committee, who first learned of the cameras in the school newspaper, were equally surprised.

Juniors Jason Kuo and Nathan Yeo broke the story in the Denebola, their student newspaper, months after the security cameras were put in place. They didn’t share how they got the scoop, but they did make sure to include a quote from the superintendent confirming the presence of cameras before sending the story to print. The cameras hadn’t been activated yet by the time the news broke. Nonetheless, members of both the…