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Danielle Nadler visits DHSPress

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Journalism and newspaper students listen to Danielle Nadler inform them of what it is like in today's world of journalism.

Journalism and newspaper students listen to Danielle Nadler inform them of what it is like in today's world of journalism.

Journalism and newspaper students listen to Danielle Nadler inform them of what it is like in today's world of journalism.

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Danielle Nadler, the LoudounNow managing editor who covered the months-long #BringBackBrewer saga which rocked the Dominion community, came in to speak with DHS journalism and newspaper students on Wednesday, May 23rd.

After spending her childhood in South Dakota, Ms. Nadler attended Minnesota State University as a journalism major en route to an impressive career. Her career has taken her from coast to coast, and directly before co-founding Loudoun Now she reported for the now-defunct Leesburg Today.

Nadler, who was first to break many of the developments in Dr. Brewer’s struggle to return to his position after authoring a recommendation for former band director Brian Damron, spoke at length about the rapid unraveling of the story and the complexity of its parts. She first received a call in October from a mother in Florida, describing how a teacher in Loudoun County who had transferred to her son’s Jacksonville-area school had molested her child. While Nadler was unable to move on the story immediately—due to the lack of any official report filed about the incident—the far more lenient disclosure laws in Florida regarding personal documents made it relatively simple to confirm the incident’s truth.

Hand in hand with tackling such a sensitive story came difficult decisions about how best to treat various aspects of both the narrative itself and the surrounding community. Describing the “deep, thoughtful discussions about what to run and what to hold” between herself and fellow staff members, Nadler characterized the difficulty in framing each report in a manner which would respect the privacy of those involved but still provide a fair, unbiased account.

Drawing from sources including Dominion parents on both sides of the Brewer debate, Dominion administrators, the Virginia Department of Education, and the original mother in Florida, Nadler was best able to compile facts corroborated by multiple parties. In pursuit of a genuinely fair interpretation of events, Nadler drew ire from an array of individuals with drastically differing viewpoints. “I don’t think we are supposed to pick sides,” Nadler said, “[and] truth isn’t always friendly to everyone.”

Elements of difficulty arose, however, when attempting to discern which sources were credible and which came with an agenda. Nadler described the many contacts she received from individuals who would write long-form praise of Dr. Brewer’s administrative abilities and personal qualities, and those who believed just the opposite. “Finding which sources you can trust and which ones are worth effort to pursue” became a difficult task when sifting through loads of impassioned individuals with uncorroborated stories to tell, Nadler said.

Following discussion about Dr. Brewer’s case specifically, Ms. Nadler reflected upon her journalistic career and offered words of advice to the budding writers in the room. “We need community journalism,” she implored, and described how the world of technology has rapidly evolved the field but not erased its vital significance.

Along with the click-based readership model which technology has ushered in for newspapers worldwide, Nadler described how the rise of technology has catalyzed a greater prevalence of biased sources and derogatory generalizations about the media field as a whole. “Using the word ‘media’ groups Pulitzer winners with Morning Joe, which are very different,” Nadler describes, urging readers to develop an eye for biased sources and seek out objective truth.

To close her time Nadler discussed the years long journey it took to pen her first novel, Without a Trace which she described as a very different process from the stories she posts daily on Loudoun Now.

Ms. Nadler’s work for LoudounNow can be found at http://loudounnow.com/author/dnadler/.

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Danielle Nadler visits DHSPress