An overt lack of oversight
Today, when my browser loaded the Los Angeles Times’ webpage, my attention was caught by the headline “Threat hinted at school; absences spike.” What happened is that on the Valentine’s Day edition of Savanna (Anaheim) High School’s newspaper, amongst the other love wishes, this gem of a message was included:
To Metal Destroyer Militia. Remember guys — We all go down 2/22!! Let’s quit stalling!! Much Love! 666! All the way baby!
Today, around 1,400 students missed class. Granted, it’s Friday, but a district spokeswoman noted that Fridays typically have only about 60 absences. Half the student body missed!
It makes me wonder just how much oversight there is at this high school’s newspaper. When I was part of South Gate High School’s newspaper, we would have two times when people could submit message: Valentine’s Day and Graduation (Seniors and faculty only). We put restrictions on the messages:
- Nicknames could be used, as long as Journalism had the full name of the person who wrote it
- No threats, coarse language, gang names, etc.
- Any notes with coarse language, threats, and/or anything that may be perceived as racist or gang-related would not be printed and the money for printing the message would be returned
The system we had also called for a lot of people to look over the final copy. The person who was copying the message from paper to computer had to read it and could flag messages as unprintable. Our faculty adviser made sure to look over the messages and would flag anything offensive. Sure, this made the process a bit longer (we were not a regular newspaper, by the way; we printed, at most, once a month); but did you hear anything like this happen at South Gate High School? NO!
Schools need greater oversight over their newspapers. Not to censor, but to make sure that no threats like this one are published. I don’t want to hear of similar moments like this at South Gate High School, Southeast High School (which I still think should be called Lugo High School), Roosevelt High School, or any other high school in the LAUSD. Be smart and make sure to know what is being printed.
On another note, the Rough Riders over at the Roosevelt High School newspaper’s blog just posted a piece on teacher-student interaction that I think is worth a read.
Have a good weekend. I’m off to write a ten page paper on what aspects of the governmental and societal structure of dynastic China were maintained by Chairman Mao in his communist government in China. It’s due Monday at ten a.m.