Students at the Westview High School in Portland, Oregon are fighting for basic journalistic rights.
The Westview Prowl published an article headlined “Inappropriate sexual contact at school surprises population. The article discloses a high level of sexual activity at the school: a legitimate journalistic subject that was covered by the students. Parents in the Beaverton School District have risen up against the student reporters.
The article reports that dugouts, bathrooms and spaces beneath bleachers are “far from strangers to sexual activity and that “there are limited opportunities to do it at home if you’re not open with your parents about your sex life.” One parent, Mistee Wilson objects that the article went too far and is inappropriate for students: “I think the article itself was not tasteful. They could’ve gotten their message across without being crude and lewd … we’re trying to keep our kids from running into this and they’re bringing it home from school?”
The students seems to be laboring under the impression that they were supposed to find cutting edge stories to report. Student Grady Garrett noted that “as journalists, I’m pretty sure we have the right to write about whatever we want.” Parents seem intent on teaching a lesson about the value of censorship instead.
Like any newspaper, there remains some level of propriety and restraint that must be exercised by journalists and columnists. However, much of the objections at Westview High appears to be the subject and general content as opposed to the language.
Sex remains one of the most controversial subjects for students journalists. Recently, a school was sued by students referenced in a school newspaper article detailing the sexual lives of the student body. Students appear to be facing increasing censorship in pursuing journalistic subjects.
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