A couple of years back, Carolyn James, Executive Editor of the Amityville Record and current SPJ Region 1 Director, called PCLI for help in easing tensions between editors at The Echo, the Amityville High School student newspaper, and district officials.
The students walked out after school officials demanded prior approval of the paper’s content. In some cases, officials delayed production of the paper or heavily edited the copy. The students felt they were being discouraged from pursuing hard-hitting news.
To be fair, the administration had some justifiable concerns, but nothing that required such a heavy hand.
So we put together a couple of informational panels with local editors and reporters to help give both the students and school officials a better understanding of ethical journalism and the importance of a free press.
Our efforts left a mark. From Carolyn James:
Dr. Brian De Sorbe, superintendent of Amityville School District, is stepping down. I called him to thank him for his fairness with me over the last five years.
He appreciated that and thanked me, particularly for reaching out to him more than four years ago when he was having an issue with the school newspaper.
I could not recall the incident, but he reminded me that I suggested that the Press Club come and speak to him and the editor at that time. The club apparently eased tensions and he was very grateful to the point of bringing it up specifically in our last official conversation.
So, to make a long story short, it was nice to hear our efforts were appreciated and that we did a good job!!!!