Richmond principal changes paper's Internet publishing policy

VIRGINIA — A Richmond high school for the gifted has changed its student newspaper’s online publishing process after administrators removed an October editorial from the Internet because it contained comments that they claimed were offensive to the high school’s community.

“We don’t preview [the newspaper], we don’t censor it in any way,” Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School Director Doug Hunt said. “[The editorial] was pulled because of the choice of words and we did not allow that to be distributed world-wide.”

Hunt said the school has decided to change its process for the Jabberwock, the student newspaper, to adapt to the “world-wide” affect of the Internet.

“In the past, we have distributed the newspaper and put it online at the same time,” Hunt said. “We will now distribute the newspaper, wait a few days, then if something surfaces, we will address that before we put it online.”

Hunt said an editorial in the Jabberwock referenced possible “drunken people” that would have been present if the school had not decided to change its homecoming dance date from Oct. 21 to Oct. 20. The dance’s original date fell on the same day as the Gold Bowl, a Virginia Union University vs. Virginia State University football game that usually attracts thousands to a stadium near the high school.

The editorial, which was also distributed in the print edition, appeared on the school’s Web site the week before the homecoming dance. Hunt said he immediately removed the editorial from the Internet after a school official brought it to his attention. The print edition of the editorial was not censored.

“At least one person interpreted it as racist,” Hunt said. “We don’t want that kind of reputation or perception.”

Both Virginia Union and Virginia State are historically black universities.

“The lesson here is that what appears to be a very simple statement can be insensitive to some folks,” Hunt said.

The online publication of the school newspaper was restored at the beginning of November without the editorial.

Hunt said the school is “in no way” censoring, and, that he is simply taking precautions in distributing the newspaper online.

Jabberwock Editor in Chief Sohini Sircar and adviser Hal Waller were unable to be reached for comment.