Quote prompts destruction of Illinois paper
ILLINOIS — A 10-word quote by an extracurricular club’s vice president prompted the confiscation and destruction of the senior issue of the school’s newspaper, the culmination of two months of student effort.
The principal at Whitney Young High School in Chicago allegedly had 2,000 issues incinerated moments after they hit the hallway, when a teacher objected to a student’s quoted criticism of him.
The controversy began with a disorganized performance by the African American Club at a school assembly in February. The principal, shocked by the performance, placed the club on hold. A reporter for the school paper, The Beacon, decided to investigate the club’s problems and find out what went wrong with the presentation. The reporter interviewed the club’s vice president, who when asked about the situation, criticized club adviser Michael Johnson, saying he “was very irresponsible and lazy because he didn’t take charge.”
The quote appeared in the senior issue of the paper, and soon after the issues were distributed, Johnson complained to principal Joyce Kenner about the article, who immediately decided to have all of the copies destroyed.
The Chicago media stepped in when a member of the school’s gay and lesbian club declared that the papers had been destroyed because she had made reference to her sexual orientation in a letter to the editor. That claim was made invalid, however, after the principal allowed the papers to be reprinted with her letter still intact, but with the negative quote about Johnson removed.
Staffers at the paper have reportedly tried to put the incident behind them and do not plan to pursue it any further.
Fall 1996, reports