When publishing news stories, no matter the topic, our intent is never to make the school or any of its affiliates look bad. That being said, it is not our intent, or responsibility, to make the school look good either. Day in and day out, our intent is to tell the facts of the events that happen at our school and in our community. Whether a story thrills, scares, delights or devastates us, we feel it is our job to report on it in an honest manner, without holding back any of its details. It would not be fair to readers if we were selective in the stories we reported, in an attempt to paint a picture of our school that is not an accurate portrayal of the reality which we know it to be. Ms. Erica Canup was arrested on campus March 21 and whether we choose to report it on our website or not, it is a part of school history that cannot be erased.
In regards to the story published earlier today addressing the aforementioned situation, it will not be removed from the website and as an editorial board, we will continue to stand behind the work of two of our staff writers. We recognize that many students are upset, likely more than just those who were vocal over social media.
After careful deliberation, two staff members, with the collaboration of two editors-in-chief, made the decision to pursue the story. As with every story, they debated the potential positive and negative effects their work would inspire, and came to the conclusion that it was in their readers’ best interest to be informed on the subject. Before publishing, the piece went through an editing process that took over 24 hours to ensure the quality and carefulness of their words. It should be noted, however, that this process does not always end in the same result of deciding to post. Each story is evaluated individually, and in the past, we have chosen to forgo stories we feel would do more harm than good.
We wrote a news story in each of the cases of two previous teachers that were arrested. It would not be right to break a precedent set years ago by keeping quiet this time, especially when the alleged actions were documented on campus, in front of students. We realize that Canup is dear to many students’ hearts, and believe it or not, some of those students are on our staff. Still, they understand why we needed to write this story.
Whitney High Student Media is a team of 29 students who practice journalism. While, unfortunately, many professional news sources today set a poor example of it, journalism is the reporting of verified truth and facts. We aim to eliminate all bias in our media, and that includes the bias of omission via choosing to not cover a story. To maintain credibility as a reliable source, we stayed true to our core values and followed through on a story that needed to be told, no matter how hard it was to hear.
Lastly, despite any perceptions of our motives, we hope that the story of concern, as well as every story we write, serves to bring awareness to an issue that may be improperly reported if left to student speculation. Now that her story is made public, students and staff members are able to come together to not only support and obtain help for Canup in her circumstance, but also to reevaluate the problems at our school that have gone unnoticed. If a dialogue is not begun, these people will not be helped and these problems will not be fixed. In order for our school to continue to grow and make positive progress, problems of this caliber must be addressed, rather than shoved under the rug.
When something happens that affects students, we want to tell the story and we want to tell it correctly. We will continue to do so.