How Silver Chips and the media can misrepresent our school


Dec. 11, 2008, midnight | By David Meyer | 11 years, 8 months ago


Last month, Blair received a lot of attention in local news, and not for the best reasons. After the shocking murder of freshman Tai Lam on Nov. 2, the Nov. 11 in-school stabbing incident and the off-campus accidental shooting of Dimitrios Philliou - stories that otherwise probably would not have gotten much play outside of Blair - were reported in the media and tied to the school and Lam�s death.

In light of the first incident, it is perfectly fair that news outlets, including Silver Chips, would cover the latter two events. It is especially important for Silver Chips to cover them because the stabbing took place on school property during the school day and the accidental shooting affected Philliou�s peers and teachers at Blair. That said, the reporting on television and in the newspaper of the latter two events seemed to tie them all together into a single narrative - one that tries to paint Blair as an unsafe institution complete with defiant and violent students.

A brief in The Washington Post said that the stabbing occurred "less than 15 hours after Montgomery Blair High School hosted a community forum on public safety." News reports on Philliou�s injury also mentioned the previous incidents. Blair students were quoted in both cases on whether they felt Blair is a safe school. While some students said they felt perfectly safe here, attention was paid to students saying how they were not. ABC 7 quickly turned from the stabbing to Tai Lam and the question of safety at Blair. Three unrelated incidents were portrayed as part of a larger problem.

What if the media did not report the Philliou shooting? Or, rather, what if it did not mention he went to Blair? Although Philliou was a Blair student, the episode occurred off school grounds and on a weekend. The media, especially Silver Chips, cannot ignore when a member of the community is nearly killed and thus it was absolutely necessary for us to report it. A Blair student was shot off-campus, but it is not necessarily indicative of a Blair problem and Silver Chips has the duty to take note of this.

Granted, it did not take the news media to tie these events together. As soon as word spread, the next question many community members asked themselves was something along the lines of, "What�s going on at Blair?" The answer to this question depends on who in Blair�s community you ask. Many teachers, students and parents have expressed concerns after these events, but many have also continued life as usual.

Nevertheless, so many negative headlines in Silver Chips and in the professional media unfairly damage Blair�s image and distort the facts. It is the responsibility of this newspaper - in both its print and online editions - to provide more in-depth coverage for these Blair-related stories.

In our November issue - which was distributed 10 days after Lam�s death - we devoted a front page news story and two editorials to cover the tragedy. We strove to continue our extensive coverage in this issue. Ethan Wang�s article on page 1 gauges the response from the Blair administration and details what policies may change after the events of last month. The editorial to the left of this column is also about Blair�s image and how we view ourselves as a school and community.

Many Blazers were upset about how the media reported the incidents, and Silver Chips - written and reported by Blazers - is working to fill in the blanks left by the professional media and provide the community with full and well-rounded coverage.




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