Colorado Student Media Association

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Three media programs honored for FEARless reporting

First CSMA coverage challenge brings nine entries, and lots of fine journalism

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The top three entrees in our fall, 2016 coverage challenge, titled FEARless, each received a $300 voucher to use toward any CSMA sponsored event in 2017. Judges included Jeff Browne, Mary Beth Tinker, and Jack Kennedy (basically as a tie-breaker).

Eagle Valley HS

From the school’s entry: The First Amendment in Eagle County was included in our episode the week of the election. It was developed following the publication of a Letter to the Editor in the Vail Daily from a CMC student who destroyed Trump signs. The whole community was talking about it. Our reporting helped the community realize that no one’s free speech was violated and that the issue relating to speech was ethical, not legal. The trespassing and destroying property was legal. This piece was really well received by the community, particularly the principal. Following the election, there was feedback from students and parents that teachers or fellow students were violating each other’s free speech, and our principal was able to direct people to our package to be able to understand that not everything related to what people say is a free speech issue. It also helped clarify the situation for the public.

 

Palmer Ridge HS

After the Bear Truth ran a staff editorial endorsing Hillary Clinton for President, the publication, editors, staff and adviser took immediate heat. A few weeks later, the school even had some vandalism. Adviser Tom Patrick and the principal organized a letter to the community:

October 14, 2016
To the Palmer Ridge High School Community,
At Palmer Ridge High School, our mission is to Ignite, Engage, Encourage, and Expect Excellence. Recently, The Bear Truth Newspaper Editorial Board agreed to write an opinion editorial supporting Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for president. This decision and opinion was made solely by the students on the editorial board, does not reflect an official position on the presidential race by Palmer Ridge High School or Lewis-Palmer School District #38, and is consistent with our school’s mission. These students are engaged in their learning and have established within themselves a commitment to excellence through putting their opinions in a public forum and experiencing both the positive and negatives that come with public scrutiny.
Gary Gabel
Principal
Tom Patrick
Newspaper Adviser
Palmer Ridge High School

Following is a statement from the Editorial Board of The Bear Truth:

The views of The Bear Truth, its staff, and editorial board do not reflect the views of our adviser, Palmer Ridge High School, The Lewis-Palmer School District or the District 38 School Board. All opinions (editorials) expressed in The Bear Truth are the opinions of the editorial board and the editorial board alone. As stated in our editorial policies, “Expression made by students in the exercise of freedom of speech or freedom of the press is not an expression of The Lewis-Palmer School District or District 38 Board Policy.”

The editorial board, which consists of, the Editor-in-Chief, Assistant Editor, Business Manager, News Editor, Features Editor, Sports Editor, Ridge Ramblings Editor, Entertainment Editor, Student Life Editor, and Copy Editor, meets monthly to determine the topic and content of the editorial. Typically, one member of the board serves as the primary author of the editorial; however, the entire editorial board is responsible for the content of the editorial.

Through the process of this editorial we have learned how important it is to respect the opinions of others, but also how necessary it is as an editorial board to voice ours, whether it may be the popular opinion or not. As journalists, we do not take the freedom of the press lightly, nor the freedom of speech as individuals. As a newspaper, we view as part of our role starting discussions amongst our readers. When we present information that may not be the popular opinion, if nothing else, we are starting important discussions.

In order for us to have honest discussions on these issues, there needs to be an avenue for rebuttals from our readers. This avenue is provided through our letters to the editor policy, which is stated in each issue of the paper, as well as on our website. All letters to the editor that we receive will be immediately published on the website, so long as they abide by our policies.

Respectfully,
Evan Ochsner, Co-Editor-In-Chief Anna Schnelbach, Co-Editor-In-Chief
Jacob Cheeseman, Business Manager Olivia Gilmer, Features Editor
Emalie Houk, Ridge Ramblings/Student Life Editor Starr Samkus, Entertainment/Trending Editor
Tess Kelly, Copy Editor Alexis Olmstead, News Editor
Jonathan Olds, Sports Editor

Rangeview HS

From adviser Zeb Carabello: The first story, I believe, speaks for itself. Chris Arias showed incredible courage and NO FEAR in writing and publishing this story. Since its publication a week ago, the story has garnered nearly 3,000 views on our website. Chris wrote this in an effort to change the way society views sexual assault victims and to take a FEARLESS approach in helping solve this major crisis among young people in our society.

The second story by the editorial board was an opportunity for the voice of teenage brown and black students that predominantly make up our editorial board to be heard on the issue of national anthem protests and Black Lives Matter movement. The editors felt that the national and local conversation was missing their voice on the issue, and they took a FEARLESS and bold approach in trying to explain the position of many teenagers of color at Rangeview High School, in Aurora and in Colorado.

The third story is one in a series of three (with more on the way) by editor Alivia Lee taking a FEARLESS approach in raising awareness and calling for action against disgraced Aurora Public Schools Board Director Eric Nelson. Nelson, as was first reported this summer by the Colorado Statesman when he ran for the state legislature, made substantial fabrications on his resume and website about both his educational background and military service. Nelson lost his election primary, the media coverage on him stopped, (the Raider Review has written the only stories on Nelson since early September), yet he continues to serve on the APS board. Alivia is following up with articles on the recall process for an APS board member.

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