MINNESOTA — Mounds View High School’s student newspaper,the Viewer, has reached a compromise with administrators on theirpublications policy model. After a six-week hiatus, the Viewer resumedpublication after negotiations with administrators and is now established as a
“limited open forum” under the new policy.
The publications policy was called into question after the Feb. 12 issue ofthe Viewer. The paper reported a story naming the two students who weredisciplined after posting a “joke” picture of their teacher on Facebook.Principal Julie Wikelius implemented prior review following publication.Editor-in-Chief Christina Xia and Managing Editor Marysa Meyer elected tosuspend publication of the Viewer and sought legal counsel with SteveAggergaard, a Student Press Law Center volunteer attorney. The Viewerresumed publication on April 9.
“This policy clears up a lot of the gray areas since our old policywas only two paragraphs long…We are also trying to increase communicationswith the administration and put more efforts toward make the paper a forum forthe exchanging of opinions and ideas.” Xia said. “In case issues areto arise in the future, the policy also outlines what procedure to follow, whichis to first establish an advisory student-faculty committee.”
Wikelius said the new policy offers less room for misunderstandings.
“Everyone’s very comfortable with where we are and I’m very pleasedthat the students decided to resume publication,” Wikelius said.
Martha Rush, adviser for the Viewer said she is pleased with thedecision.
“[The students] feel really good that we came to a resolution that wecould agree on and that gives them responsibility and allows them to have asmuch freedom of the press as possible in a school setting,” Rushsaid.
New editors are being selected for next year, and they will be writing amanual with Rush during the summer that will establish expectations for theclass and the new policy, among others.
The policy does not specifically give the administration the ability toremove stories from the Viewer. It states the Viewer will seek the”counsel of the administration” on certain issues. In addition, thepolicy states there is a high expectation for balanced reporting and calls forthe sensitive treatment of controversial topics.
Xia said she is happy with the result and how quickly the Viewer andthe administration were able to come to an agreement.
“The new policy will definitely hold Viewer to a higher standard, butI think that is a good thing. Obviously, I wish this did not happen, butI’m very glad that we have a more coherent policy and procedures thatoutlines what would happen in the future problem if issues do arise,” saidXia.
Xia said she suggests for student editors who find themselves in a similarsituation to be calm, reasonable and respectful but to still be assertive.
“You will realize that the journalism community is very supportiveand a tight knit group…Getting past editors, parents, and students to write incould be a great way to let the administration know how important thisjournalism experience is,” Xia said.