CONTACT Yup, they start early - Dr. Christian Thurstone

I realize they’re learning, but journalism students can be so know-it-all as they present grossly inaccurate work. I know because I’m sure I was one.

However, I’m also pretty sure I never have blown it quite this badly — meaning that I

a. never misspelled a name in the lead, and

b. never wrote a lead reporting that a guy who wasn’t actually at the event was at the event.

Check out the first two graphs of this Oct. 11 editorial in The Collegian of Colorado State University (and read the full editorial):

Dr. Christian Thurston, a CU-Denver professor and medical director of youth substance abuse clinics in Colorado, and Tom Gorman, director of the Rocky Mountain High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, visited Berthoud on Wednesday to debate the legalization of pot and its positive and negative effects on society, the economy and the individual.

They were arguments we’ve been hearing for decades — arguments we’ve all heard many times over. Often overlooked in this debate, though, is the simple truth that regardless of whether Colorado legalizes marijuana, the “War on Drugs” will continue.

Yeah, um, that’s “Thurstone,” and he’s never been to Berthoud, Colo., much less has he traveled to Berthoud to debate anything. Yes, he was invited to Berthoud to speak that Wednesday evening, but another commitment kept him away.

As I wrote to that collegiate editorial board:

Why, no. Dr. Christian Thurstone (you misspelled his name) did not appear in Berthoud, Colo., on Wednesday evening. He has never appeared in Berthoud, Colo., to debate anything. If you cannot get even such basic facts right in the lead sentence of your editorial, why in the world should anyone even remotely care about your opinion? And these other “facts” you cite to support your opinion? They are easily debunked in mere minutes.

You’re in college, and you’re learning. This longtime journalist — a former national president of the Society of Professional Journalists and the wife of Dr. T (so, yes, I know his schedule) — gets it. However, this is grossly irresponsible journalism. You need to run an apology to Dr. Thurstone — and a correction — in short order. I hope you’ll also discuss this foul-up with your college journalism advisor to help ensure something like this never happens again.

And hey, I say you direct everyone to watch Dr. Thurstone actually speak about the science of marijuana use and addiction — particularly as it affects people your age. When he speaks, he doesn’t make “arguments we’ve heard for decades” because he presents scientific findings learned only in the last few years. Here’s a link. THIS is the story you should be writing over at The Collegian:… And here is even more about Dr. Thurstone, the person you maligned without even actually seeing/hearing/reading from:

I make no secret of my feelings that the subject of marijuana legalization has been very poorly investigated and explained by American news organizations. There is a great deal of ignorance and arrogance underpinning an editorial bias that was established, oh, say, right about the time today’s “pros” were serving on collegiate editorial boards.

About Christine Tatum

Christine Tatum is a veteran journalist whose communications and market intel firm, Media Salad, Inc., helps companies and nonprofit organizations win business and stay ahead of their competitors. Her professional stops include the Chicago Tribune, The Denver Post, the (Arlington Heights, Ill.) Daily Herald and the (Greensboro, N.C.) News & Record. Her work also has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, and New York Times.

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