Students Tackle Coverage of Rape Culture
Fourth in a series of articles about student journalism that makes a difference
Jane Blystone, MJE
Covering a taboo topic like “rape culture” can be very daunting to any journalist. However the scholastic journalists at Palo Alto High School did not let the culture of silence deter them from telling covering this story that their peers needed to read. Students saw 3000+ copies of “Verde” distributed and 25,000 hits to their sister publication’s website, www.palyvoice.com, move into the public arena.
Their adviser, Paul Kandell, shared the intensity of the work done by the students to cover this story in a thorough and sensitive manner. “With 3,000 print copies, 25,000+ online hits (as of May 1) and countless retellings through print, radio, TV and online interviews by Verde editors, the “You can’t tell me I wasn’t raped” package has broadly impacted awareness and discussion of a taboo subject: “rape culture” and its presence in high school life, particularly when combined with alcohol abuse. The package feels like a public inoculation: It’s hard to imagine any teen reading the story and being as cavalier about drinking or sex – or slut-shaming girls who have been raped. The more who read it the better.”
Students took the initiative to work with the Ochberg Society for Trauma Journalism, the Student Press Law Center, the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma and a Poynter Institute course work on “Reporting on Sexual Violence.” Was the work intense work? Yes. Was the issue hard to write? Yes. Was the work worth it? Yes. Has it made a difference? Absolutely, and for all time.
Kandell is right and we share these documents with you to show you that well-trained and uncensored scholastic journalists can tackle hard-hitting stories with great depth, broad coverage and a sensitivity that is humbling.
1. Lisie Sabbag’s article “‘You can’t tell me I wasn’t raped’”
2. Will Queen’s piece “Breaking the Silence,”
3. Staff Editorial editorial.
4. Interviews of male students “From a different perspective: a discussion with Paly guys,”
5. Savannah Cordova’s column Taking it Seriously: Ever made a rape joke? This column is for you
6. Staff infographic The state of rape today
7. Complete issue of Verde PDF of Verde Magazine on issuu
8. Letter sent to faculty http://palyvoice.com/2013/04/23/copy-of-introduction-letter-sent-to-faculty/