Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Column: Fond du Lac school district should embrace student journalism, not limit it

March 18, 2014

Commentary by Lucas Wimmer

As a student journalist, it is one of my biggest fears that one of my stories will lead to a large backlash and cause trouble for my newspaper.

At times, I feel like this fear is irrational. In America, there are boundaries in place to protect journalists, especially one like myself who has been writing mainly opinion pieces for the duration of the semester.

Unfortunately, there are always cases that break that norm and make that fear a reality.

In the February edition of the Fond du Lac High School newspaper, the “Cardinal Columns,” there was a story on rape culture in the school titled “The Rape Joke: Surviving Rape in a Culture That Won’t Let You.” It was a well-written and well-researched lengthy story with multiple sources, and touched on a rough issue that affects multitudes of women across America.

The school district, however, did not see it as such. All articles for this publication now need to be pre-approved by district officials.

As an aspiring journalist myself, this is troubling. What this school district is telling young journalists is they cannot take on hard-hitting issues. Even if you research it as much as you can, you get as many sources as you can and present the information in a tasteful manner, you are still in the wrong.

This discourages young minds from the main point of journalism: to present relevant information to the public.

The article included the testimonials of Fond du Lac High School students and included a statistic that 80.3 percent of Fond du Lac High School students think there is a culture of victim blaming in cases of sexual assault.

Shouldn’t this aspect of the story be more alarming to district officials than the fact that the article got published?

What the school district fails to realize here is it is part of the public that needs to be informed. It should take this information, process it, and find a way to deal with what is allegedly happening in the school.

If I were a school official, I would applaud these young students for bringing an issue to light, and undertaking ways to combat the rape culture that apparently exists in my district, not chiding students for bringing this issue to light.

Luckily for these young writers, this story has been one picked up by many national outlets, such as “Jezebel” and the “Huffington Post.” This story deserves national attention, and I am hopeful that attention will allow the Fond du Lac school district officials to do the right thing and stop restricting “Cardinal Columns.”

If you are interested in reading the article, which I would recommend doing, you can read it here.

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Founded 1901
Column: Fond du Lac school district should embrace student journalism, not limit it