Two young students at Utah’s Herriman High School learned the harsh reality of internet censorship when their school newspaper's website went offline soon after they had published two stories in which they claimed inappropriate messaging between a former teacher and a student.
The Telegraph student newspaper posted their stories about a teacher who had departed from the school at first without a problem, but some 12 hours later the site inexplicably went offline (shut down for maintenance) and then returned in the exact same manner as before, simply without those two stories.
Mr Alex Sousa, the school’s newspaper adviser claims that Herriman High administrators informed him to take the site down: “The students, in their tenacity, posted the story that they had written, and when the administration found that, they called me early in the morning and told me to delete that story and also to disable the site."
"They've told me they will likely be reviewing it for quite a while before they actually come up with a decision on whether we can run it or post it."
"Now, also, they have told me the students aren't allowed to post anything on the website. Everything that gets posted on there I have to do personally."
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">KUER’s <a href="https://twitter.com/337hale?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@337hale</a> spoke to one of the Utah high school journalists that formed indy site <a href="https://twitter.com/herrimannews?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@herrimannews</a> after their school tried to censor their investigation of a recently fired teacher. <a href="https://t.co/wfvsGZFmxm">https://t.co/wfvsGZFmxm</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/journalism101?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#journalism101</a></p>— Julia Ritchey (@juliaritchey) <a href="https://twitter.com/juliaritchey/status/956005799888797696?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 24, 2018</a></blockquote>
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The Jordan School District issued a statement about their action, saying they support "thought-provoking, informative and accurate reporting."
"It is the responsibility of students, school advisers, and administrators to have every story meet these expectations. Again, we encourage students to participate in responsible journalism, sharing informative stories as part of their educational experience."
Young Mr. Conor Spahr, the student who authored the article stated: "I think it's a bad move."
"They think the best option is to censor it and continue to try to keep a cap on it when really I think they should just be addressing parents', students' and teachers' concerns."
Meanwhile, the local police department confirmed that they were investigating those inappropriate texts between the former teacher and a female student (who was only 17 years old at the time).
It has certainly done no harm to the Telegraph website. On average, it counted some seven views on a good day. By the time the story hit local headlines, it reached more than 900.