After N.Y. adviser canceled issue of paper, students publish underground

NEW YORK — A group of high school journalists have produced a one-time-only alternative and independent publication in place of their school’s newspaper after the adviser canceled the year’s final issue as punishment for two editors’ “poor” decision.

In the May issue of Ithaca High School’s The Tattler, editors published a mock personal ad that had been submitted anonymously to the newspaper.

The newspaper’s adviser, Stephanie Vinch, did not see the advertisement before publication as is her normal practice. When Vinch saw the advertisement, which implied that a student was gay, she was upset that it would be harmful to the student, and she suspected students might have intentionally sneaked it past her, editor Adrienne Clermont said.

“It was a poor decision,” Clermont said. “We did not intend to upset anybody. It was a whole series of miscommunications.”

As punishment, Vinch canceled the last issue. But rather then accept the decision, about 25 students decided to publish the issue they already had been working on as an independent newspaper.

“They all felt really strongly that this issue should happen,” Clermont said.

On June 9, The June Issue, clearly identified as not affiliated or funded by Ithaca High School, was distributed to students.

In an editorial about the conflict, the cancellation is called “a dangerous precedent for the freedom of the press at Ithaca High School.”

“Know that this paper is proof that a group of students can join together and make something despite an uncooperative administration,” it reads further. “It was necessary to publish this paper, to stand up for our rights as students and to prove our collective worth. It was partly a labor of love; but more importantly, it was a labor of necessity.”

The 20-page June Issue was funded entirely by advertising and a benefit concert on May 30 that raised about $300. The newspaper was created off campus and without the use of any school equipment.

While the situation has strained relations between the first-year adviser and the newspaper staff, Clermont said publishing the issue has helped everyone express their feelings. In the fall, students plan to return to the school-sponsored newspaper.

Vinch nor the school’s principal responded to requests for comments.