The Denver Post reports that Overland High School in Cherry Creek, Colorado, has backed down from an apparent attempt at censorship of the student newspaper, and has extended an olive branch to the editors (and their advocates) by rescinding an earlier policy of prior review. But cause for concern remains.
The editors of the Overland Scout, you may recall, complained that their school’s principal had complained about a proposed article accurately reporting on the death of a student. The principal, editors say, then informed them that the paper lacked funding to continue publishing for the year, and that their advisor would be pulled from her position.
The school district gave conflicting rationales for the principal’s decision. Today, however, the district has discovered that, indeed, they do have the money to continue publishing — the district itself has a fund to pay for such publications — and chalks the whole affair up as miscommunication.
To his credit, the principal is rescinding his policy of prior review of student articles. A policy of ‘prior review’ permits school officials to read student articles before they go to press. The principal, however, refused to discuss whether the newspaper would continue next year or whether the paper’s advisor of fourteen years would continue her role.
If the district provides funds for student publications, but the publication whose future was jeopardized under suspicious circumstances is the only paper transitioned to a ‘new media’ environment, that would be cause for skepticism of the school officials’ motives.
A preferable course of action would be to allow the student editors to determine their own future, or allowing them to publish both online and in physical print. Publishing online, after all, is often as simple as copying and pasting the text of the article into a web publishing program. But little is as rewarding as seeing the results of your efforts in newsprint, or being read by students in the hallways between class.