Letter to the Editor & Catamount Editors response

Kailani Jackson and Maddie Endicott

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Concerns from your ASB student body president, James Johnson:

To Whom it May Concern,

I have had concerns with the Catamount’s reporting, but, more specifically, the editorial, in the past, but it is only after reading the latest edition, and seeing the effect that its pointed language has on people, that I feel compelled to write this letter.

I am particularly concerned with two articles: “To TOLO and Beyond” and “Why is Nobody Reading our paper”. In the first article, Michael Marquess likens the dance to “the scalp of the balding man” amongst other things. What Marquess fails to consider is that TOLO is not an event put on by some distant, evil ASB, rather it is the product of a lot of time and effort by a small, devoted group of students trying to put together a fun event for everyone. When those students read this article, they were flattenned (sic.). They felt as though it was a direct insult to their hours of effort to put on TOLO. I accept that TOLO was not well attended, especially in comparison to Homecoming, but to be fair to the Senior Class Council, it’s usually that way. I would like to remind Mr. Marquess that words are powerful, and I would ask that he practice empathy in choosing them.

As for the second article, I have some concerns about how ASB events are being characterized. Mr. Marquess writes that the school in the “blowing” money on “extravagant pep assemblies” and on the “prestigious Mr. Bothell show.” This, quite frankly, is inaccurate. All of the money that is used for Pep Assemblies and Mr. Bothell has been fundraiser by ASB, not financed by the schools. In fact, some of the proceeds from Mr. Bothell go towards charity, and i say that the school is “blowing money” on events like this is misleading to say the least. I would urge Mr. Marquess to know the facts before marking claims like that.

Please understand that, while I have concerns, I have great respect for the Catamount, and I appreciate the hard work of everyone involved (much like the work of the senior class council with TOLO). Let this letter serve as an expression of my hopefulness that the paper will improve, and not as a personal attacking—that is not my intention. I look forward to the subsequent, revised editions of the Catamount.

Sincerely,

James Johnson

 

Editors in Chief Kailani and Maddie explain the purpose of a multilateral student news source:

Mr. Johnson,

We appreciate your desire to advocate for the Senior Class Council and would like to explain the purpose of our forum pieces. They describe a single person’s experience of the world–they allow for the reader to see through someone else’s eyes and decide if they agree with their perspective. They are not stated as fact, nor is their purpose to inform the public of all sides of the matter. As an opinion piece, the reader can critically analyze the point the author is trying to make and integrate that perspective into their actions going forward. Or the reader can disregard the perspective; after all, criticism can be based on just a grain of truth, or a beach of revelation. The beauty is in interpretation!

Now, as all our reporters are part of Bothell High School’s student body, we do hope to provide relevant and helpful content for our readership. What we cover is what we care about.

We do ask that in analyzing our articles, readers read the whole piece to understand the overarching commentary. For a satire piece commenting on what it is to be a teenager, for example, there may be a conclusion meant to encourage the reader to see previous exaggerations in a different light. In the case of “Why is nobody reading our paper?” Mr. Marquess satirizes the way teens ‘waste’ and ‘constantly find a way to complain’ as older generations often comment. His conclusion, however, is that if extravagance and money-spending (or writing in a school newspaper!) makes a person or community happy, it is their right to do so.

Mr. Marquess, or Michael as he is more commonly referred to, has repeatedly written opinion pieces this year that he is passionate and concerned about. In regards to his most recent article about a BHS dance, “To TOLO and Beyond,” Michael writes about the atmosphere of high school dances and the teenagers who attend them. He is neither directly nor indirectly criticizing the Associated Student Body or the Senior Class Council’s planning or organizing of the event. Although, if it were, it would be well within Michael’s journalistic rights and our editorial and publishing jurisdiction to critique our school’s government-led events. If one chooses to be in the “public-eye” of our school, we are permitted as the media to cover and critique their choices and impacts. However for the articles in question, this was not the overarching commentary.

We think it is also imperative to mention that Michael’s writing is persuasive and gives our readership a relatable perspective. If it were not so, I could not imagine why you have these concerns. Although, would you stop an ASB member from planning fantastic events because others did not support their methods of running said event? I would not think so, therefore we encourage and support Michael to continue writing his opinion to his and our standards.

We want to thank you for this unique perspective on our paper’s content. We hope this answers any concerns you had. Thank you for robust support of student journalism, and the First Amendment!

Sincerely,

Kailani Jackson and Madeline Endicott

Editors in Chief of the Bothell High School’s The Catamount