Thursday, April 24, 2008

Keep fighting the good fight, kids

This is a story about how the students at an award-winning high school newspaper in Palo Alto responded to a threat from the PTSA president. The president threatened, without grounds or authority, to pull the PTSA's $10,000 annual contribution to the newspaper because the editors wouldn't reveal the identity of someone who vandalized computers. The editors also did not write an editorial condemning the vandalism.

What has me so encouraged is the newspaper staffs' comments:

Responding to [PTSA president] Tramiel's assertion students should have turned in the vandal -- who removed space-bar keys from library computers and littered the room with thousands of print-outs of Chairman Mao in January -- [Co-editor in chief] Blake said such an action would violate journalistic integrity.

"When a source comes to us in anonymity, they expect that we will keep them anonymous and if we don't that's ... kind of lying to the people who have trusted us. And secondly, it means in the future anonymous sources will be less likely to talk to us," he said.

Of course in a glaring example of an adult underestimating a teen, here was the PTSA president's response.

Tramiel said students kept the vandal's identity secret to look cool.

"They wanted to be cool journalists more than they wanted to be responsible citizens, and I wanted to remind them of that responsibility," she said of her threat to cut funding.

It's a real shame when students are acting ethically and professionally and getting criticized for that. Any wonder why most adults don't have much credibility with teens? FFS.

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