Another flap over the direction of a school newspaper has broken out in the region.
In West Fargo, Jeremy Murphy, the student newspaper and yearbook adviser, has been removed because of “how negative the paper was,” according to the Detroit Lakes Online Web site (reg. required).
Murphy, a former reporter, didn’t hold back in a letter he sent to the North Dakota Newspaper Association. “Administrators simply want an adviser who will restrain students from reporting on certain topics and I wasn’t willing to compromise their freedoms to that extent,” he said. “Although they didn’t have any specifics, I just think it was the fact that students covered both sides and that negative perspective really wasn’t well-received by district officials.”
The paper — The Packer — won top honors in this year’s Northern Interscholastic Press Association competition.
The paper’s Web site has a great sample of stories including the bankruptcy of a company that was handling the French class trip, the one-person race for student body president, and a student who’s moving to Kenya. Its opinion page features a column wondering why some of the teachers became teachers and one that questioned administrators for canceling a school trip because of blizzard fears.
School newspapers have always presented a dilemma for administrators who balance the teaching of a subject area — in this case, journalism — with the needs of their teachers.
In Faribault, Minn., the school district’s superintendent closed down the school newspaper last December because the school paper wouldn’t let him pre-read an article about a teacher. The students simply started publishing the paper online.