Thursday, September 13, 2007

High School Denies Freedom of the Press

What ever happened to freedom of the press? This is the question I was left with after reading the article “School Apologizes After Banning Reporter from Game” originally published by the Winchester Sun. According the newspaper a Kentucky school was apologizing to its local newspaper after banning one of its reporters at the Homecoming game as a form of punishment. The Principal at George Roger’s Clark High School refused to allow a reporter into the press box because he didn’t like an article the newspaper ran earlier that day.

The article in question was about four white students from George Roger’s Clark who gave a fellow black student a racially charged note. According to the mother of the student who received the note it depicted racially violent pictures and statements like “the south will rise again.” After learning of the incident a story was published by the local newspaper. The banned journalist commented, “Reporting the news is their job and the action Principal Gordon Parido took was shocking.”

The banned journalist recalled how he: a phone call saying, you’re banned from the press box tonight and I said you’re kidding right? He said no, Mr. Parido doesn’t want you to be in the press box.

When he questioned the reasoning behind the action he was told that it was because the principal didn’t like the story he published in the paper very well. Since the banning of the reporter Principal Parido has called and apologized to him and while relations seem to be smooth between the school and the newspaper it is still disheartening to hear of such a response by a school district.

It seems to me that such an incident at a school would demand action from the media and not publishing the story would be punished. If my child attended George Roger’s Clark High School I would definitely want to know of such an occurrence and I would be outraged if it were to simply be swept under the rug. I remember in my hometown when a “Hit List” was discovered at the middle school that physically threatened the lives of specific students and it made the front page of many newspapers. While it does present some ethical dilemmas, like publishing the names of those on the hit list, it shouldn’t in anyway be questioned on whether or not to make the issue public.

The most shocking part about this article to me was not only the fact that the principal banned the reporter to punish the paper for reporting on the incident but that the principal had the authority to do so in the first place. News is news and everyone has the right to know about it, especially when it happens on school grounds that are funded by tax payer’s money. Reporters should not have to second guess every word they right to prevent offending or upsetting someone that could later retaliate against them.

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