New Delhi: When United States special envoy for Ukraine Kurt D. Volker resigned abruptly this week amid the impeachment investigation against President Donald Trump, a student journalist had the scoop before big media houses like The New York Times and The Washington Post did.
Andrew Howard, 20, has been the toast of social media since he beat media titans to the story, which stems from allegations that Trump sought foreign help to undermine potential Democrat rival Joe Biden ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
Volker’s resignation followed reports that Trump had approached Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to dig up dirt on Biden, whose son used to be on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas giant that is under the scanner for alleged irregularities.
David Sanger, a national security correspondent at the NYT, was among those who congratulated Howard, as were other journalists.
I hate being beaten on a big story by the @washingtonpost and the @WSJ. But I have to say it was pretty cool being clobbered by the undergrad editor of the Arizona State college paper. Congrats. https://t.co/BVLgB4p0YM
— David Sanger (@SangerNYT) September 28, 2019
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) September 28, 2019
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A college newspaper broke this story and that is so awesome 👏🏻 https://t.co/OzRvN0XuAJ
— Rebecca Buck (@RebeccaBuck) September 27, 2019
Howard is the managing director of a student newspaper, The State Press, at the Arizona State University.
According to an interview with The New York Times, Howard and his group of reporters were able to make the connection since Volker serves as an executive director of the McCain Institute, a think tank run by Arizona State University.
Volker’s resignation was confirmed by an unnamed official at the college.
In conversation with The New York Times (NYT), Howard said he hadn’t “set out” to write a story that would potentially be followed by senior reporters and media houses. He added, “I didn’t take a different approach to this story than any other… Everyone’s looking for an ‘aha’ moment that I don’t think was there.”
“We decided to take an approach to the story that a national outlet might not, and reach out to the university,” he said. “I’m not sure we ever expected to get the scoop that we did.”
The report went on to break all records, getting more views than the college website could handle. Active since 2014, The State Press can garner a few thousand views, but Howard’s story went up to 10,000.
The State Press consists of a staff of over 100 editors and reporters. They work out of a basement office “filled with fairy lights, the occasional cockroach and lots of love”, the NYT quoted editor-in-chief Kimberly Rapanaut as saying.
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