In March of this year I posted about the Emerald Ridge student newspaper and how proud I am of student journalists who raise difficult issues. Now, a small group of students quoted in the JagWire story are suing the Puyallup School District over the oral sex articles. Read the story here.
While many may disagree with the content being allowed into the student newspaper, the reality now is that the students who are bringing the lawsuit are asking for $800,000 to $1.5 million each. This has caused the district to react in a manner inconsistent with First Amendment rights. However, the suing students’ integrity has been called into question:
In an earlier letter responding to the tort claims, the district’s lawyers said the students gave permission to use their names and quotes during an interview with reporters and again before the article was published.
“It is an ancient legal principle that ‘no wrong is done to one who consents,’” the attorneys wrote.
Emerald Ridge journalism adviser Kevin Smyth told The News Tribune in March that the JagWire quoted only students who had given their permission.
In addition, two of the students who now claim they were traumatized joked about the article in an improv comedy performance after the story was printed, according to the district letter.
A friend of mine gave me some inside information when the articles were being written, and he told me that one student named in the article was 17 while the rest were 18. Obviously, I’m getting the information second-hand but I trust the source. The notion that these students were unaware that they would be quoted is untrue, which definitely seems to show that money is the ultimate goal, not justice.
I hope the truth comes out. I also hope that the issues raised by these courageous student journalists are taken up by the school district and the parents of the community.