The Student News Site of Conestoga High School



Unsigned: Looking behind the scenes of front page


The Spoke Editorial Board voted 18-2 in favor of this editorial, with 2 people abstaining.

As many of you — the students, teachers and staff of Conestoga and members of the T/E community — likely realized when you picked up this edition of The Spoke and read the headline printed across page 1, our front page story is an important one. Behind the broadsheets, in our circle of reporters, editors and advisers, it has also been among the most challenging front page to produce.

Concerns about discrimination and censorship alike have long reverberated through our student body and the nation at large; everyone has their beliefs, everyone has their experiences.

One of the triumphs of student journalism is that the people working in our newsroom mirror the community we serve, in identity and in opinion. Many of our editors and reporters are passionate about the issues of Islamophobia, LGBTQ+ representation and censorship, and a good portion of them would like to add their voices to the choir and share their viewpoints.

But, as a newspaper and as a collective, that is not our job — at least not outside of the opinion section. Our job is to investigate, to report and to inform the community about matters of importance.

Our job is to ensure that the people in our community understand the facts so they can form their own opinions and not fall victim to misinformation. It is often hard, with such a passionate and diverse newsroom, to dampen personal interests for the good of the whole but such is the duty we have                           assigned ourselves.

For this front page, we chose our reporters with care: people who are unconnected, at least on a nominal level, to the topics and demographics discussed to ensure they report in an unbiased manner. We ensured that none of our reporters had perceived bias, the idea that bias could be assumed based on the writers’ identities. This practice followed this story every step of the way.

Still, this story hit many of us, as journalists, closer to home. As a student publication that has observed and experienced censorship, the idea of removing a book from the library does not settle well. On the other hand, prejudice goes against a moral code that supersedes impartiality. If our reporting becomes too detached, our values fall on the pyre along with our partiality.

Since this story called into question the standards to which the school holds itself regarding inclusion and censorship, our reporters and editors ensured to represent and treat all sides with fairness.

The main obstacle we faced was simply a lack of response. We contacted school administration, many of the parents who spoke at the school board meeting and multiple student organizations for interviews and information. Few responded, and even fewer agreed to speak to us on      the record. This was within their right but it was  difficult nonetheless.

For school administration, this barrier arose because the book review is still an ongoing discussion, but for most, the reasons were harder to pinpoint.

Our sources’ refusal to speak with The Spoke stems from a deeper trend of distrust in the media, which permeates our society and government and makes it harder for us to report to the populace accurately.

The Spoke does not seek to defame or dethrone, nor do we elevate one position over another. Our reporting is separate from the whims of administration and government, and we do not participate in prior review or restraint. The primary result of sharing information and perspective with us is the amplification of the truth.

Despite the challenges, we delivered. What is written on the front page is the amalgamation of the work of people of many backgrounds and many outlooks, shedding their partiality in order to create something bigger than any one person.

If you take issue with what we write, we want to hear it. We invite anyone to share their opinions through letters to the editor or to our email, [email protected]. The news and community are not separate nor opposed. Our objective, with this story and with all others, is to serve and enlighten our community and further our democracy.

The SPOKE can be reached at [email protected].

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