One of the guidelines of the Knight Errant journalism classes is that the reporters should avoid covering themselves or others in the class. But after more than 200 news stories published nationwide about the Knight Errant, including stories by Minnesota Public Radio and local television stations, the Knight Errant has legitimately become news.
At the heart of the news coverage was the BSM administration’s decision to remove “Life as a Gay Teenager” and “Staff finds DVD Unsubstantiated” from the Knight Errant Website. In place of the editorials, the administration gave an explanation for removing them from the website and posted a statement that read in part, “The online comments regarding the editorial and the opinion piece in question were creating a disrespectful environment as well as confusion about the teachings of the Catholic Church.”
Simonson’s editorial had 93 published comments, in addition to ten more that weren’t published, and the staff editorial had comments from 12 people, six of which criticized the Knight Errant for publishing the editorial.
As a result of the comments on the stories on the Website, the Knight Errant has changed its commenting policy. “We decided, as a staff, to revise our comment policy. Those wishing to comment must give their first and last names and a verifiable e-mail; the comments must also be appropriate and language that we would not approve in print is not allowed,” said Morgan Rogers, Online Editor-in-Chief of the Knight Errant.
The Knight Errant received 17 positive letters and an additional 15 emails supporting the decision to publish the editorials, but the Knight Errant staff knows that not all reactions to the editorials were positive, “I wish that people would write letters to the editor when they disagree with our coverage decisions; we will gladly print any letter that meets our standards for publication,” said Mr. Wallestad.
Senior Tommy Nelson was dismayed by the Knight Errant’s decision to publish the editorials and doesn’t think that a school-funded newspaper should be allowed to attack the ideas of the Archdiocese. “We just disagree with the opinion that the Knight Errant had the right to publish these articles.”
Even though he’s critical of the editorials, he feels that his criticism was taken the wrong way by some people. “I would just like to make it very clear that I–along with many of my friends–aren’t attacking Sean in any way,” said Nelson.
Nelson doesn’t feel that the news coverage the Knight Errant received told the whole story. “I don’t think the viewpoints of the more conservative Catholics were heard because in the news coverage we are being portrayed as ‘intolerant,’ ‘bigots,’ and ‘homophobic’ just because we were happy that BSM exercised its prerogative in taking down the articles,” said Nelson.
Religion classes addressed the student reactions to the articles, the comments, and the removal of the articles in class by encouraging student discussion on the issue. “The discussions in the religion classes were to revolve around the three articles in the Knight Errant, bring up any comments that students had, and discuss the church teaching on homosexuality,” said Mrs. Rebecca Meagher, head of the religion department.
Some students found that talking about the issue in class was beneficial. “The discussion in religion class was helpful in that it explained the views of the Catholic Church to those who may not have known them. However, I don’t think it helped bring the senior class together on the issue,” said Nelson.
Not every student agreed with the administration’s decision to remove the editorials, but the goal of the school was only to create the best environment for its students. “We care very deeply about all of our students and want to make sure that they feel safe and welcome here,” said Principal Sue Skinner.