After Campus Stabbing, UT-Austin Student Newspaper Provided Information When Officials Did Not

Daily Texan reporters were on campus, and in touch with other students via social media.

By Rhonda Fanning & Alexandra HartMay 2, 2017 7:44 am,

Monday afternoon, Kendrex J. White, a 21-year-old junior at the University of Texas, allegedly stabbed and killed Harrison Brown and wounded three others. So far there is no known motive.

UT-Austin students were not alerted by the university’s text messaging system until nearly half an hour after the attack started. By that time, word of mouth had spread across campus, sparking spurious, unconfirmed, and as it would turn out, unwarranted and unsubstantiated claims of other attacks occurring elsewhere on campus.

Students had few places to turn for more information, except for the student newspaper, which published some of the first actual images from the scene, including the arrest of the suspect.

The Daily Texan is one of the oldest student newspapers in the south, and in its 117 years has won more national, regional and state awards than any other student newspaper in America.

But like many student newspapers, and like the newspaper industry itself, its impact has declined over the years as people have turned to other sources for news. And yet Monday – as students complained about not getting enough information from either the school or from mainstream media – it was the student newspaper that was on top of the story.

Catherine Marfin, senior reporter and Ellie Breed, news editor for the Daily Texan, were covering the story.

When Breed first heard there was an incident on campus she says she was in an apartment building on 21st Street – the stabbing took place near Gregory Gym, on the corner of 21st Street and Speedway.

“The first thing that I noticed as I was about to leave for class were cop cars rushing down 21st Street towards the Speedway area,” Breed says. “Once I saw that you tend to jump onto social media and see what you can find about whatever incident and the second I got on GroupMe and Facebook I was already seeing things from people that were down there and experiencing it first hand. And so after that I just called our news team and we got working.”

What you’ll hear in this segment:

– Why the Daily Texan was first on the scene

– How the app GroupMe contributed to reporting the incident

– The biggest issue for the Daily Texan staff reporting on the incident