Long before this week’s shocking headlines about the illegal immigrant status of Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Jose Antonio Vargas (pictured), a group of Northern California students heard his impromptu confession.
It happened on May 11th, in a Mountain View High School classroom, following the reporter’s breakfast keynote. What’s arguably most remarkable about the whole thing is that even though one of the people in the class, 18-year-old William Beare, is a Patch contributor, he quietly sat on the story… for six weeks!
With the cat out of the bag, Patch Mountain View local editor Claudia Cruz is now able to recount the circumstances of the surprise Q&A admission by Vargas, who was once editor of the high school’s Oracle newspaper. Beare deserves tremendous kudos for not running with with what would have amounted to Patch’s second biggest scoop so far:
According to Beare, the depth of conversation between the students and Vargas, and the poignant question of one outgoing and outspoken girl who asked for more validation from Vargas about “why could he write about illegal immigration,” may have played a role in the revelation.
“He asked us not to tell before he told us what [the secret] was,” Beare said. “I don’t think there was one person in that room who could have broken that trust. It was a powerful moment that went beyond our pursuit of journalism.”
While ABC News and the New York Times ultimately got to bottle the lightning of this story, let’s hope they recognize it’s largely because of the very ethical behavior of Beare.