Students, It May Be Time to Take Your Journalism Elsewhere


Just saw an story in the (Tacoma) News Tribune that goes something like this:

-- Students are engaging in oral sex at Emerald Ridge High School.

-- Student newspaper writes about said oral sex.

-- Students providing the oral sex get pissed for being named in student paper.

-- Adults get involved, principal can now veto articles in student newspaper.

Obviously, this is ridiculous, and just another example of teacher/principals/schools treating teens like brain-dead toddlers rather than students learning, in this case, how to be professional journalists. The newspaper, JagWire at Emerald Ridge is a class, which, I agree, allows the "oversight" of the school to toe the line between publisher (sort of) and government, which it is to these students, without question. But, rather than providing the students with the real-world experience of running sensitive articles -- and naming teenage head-givers would certainly be that -- by an attorney (Student Press Law Center is already involved) for potentially libelous content, the principal -- THE MAN -- is approving the content. This is now the case for all student publications and drama productions at all three high schools in the Puyallup School District.

“All magazine publications and newspapers have clear, established editorial protocols and standards of writing content for their reporters. Reporters for these aforementioned organizations can not write whatever they want and get it published without the close scrutiny and prior right to review of their submitted article,” Superintendent Tony Apostle said in a written statement. "The Puyallup School District is no different and will continue to protect students and staff from degrading, vulgar, indecent, cruel and insensitive journalism in district-funded publications.”


It's obvious that this award-winning student newspaper is doing a lot of things right, by serving its audience and starting all kinds of conversations. And, guys, I'm not confident you're going to win this one. So, perhaps it's time you take your kick-ass journalism elsewhere. Start a web site. Hell, start a blog, and let your student-commenters and editors run wild (I don't mean inaccuracies and libel). There's nothing a public high school can do about your off-campus, journalistic endeavors here. Keep fighting the good fight. It just looks like it's time to find a new avenue.

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