Ohio high school journalists push for records, break a story

Student Press Law Center | The Shakerite

In September, two Ohio high school journalists broke the story that an alleged assault at Shaker Heights High School was actually an alleged rape, and they did it with public records.

The Student Press Law Center's Samantha Sunne highlights the work of John Vodrey, campus and city editor at The Shakerite, and Shane McKeon, print editor-in-chief, who went to the police station to see the incident report.

After being given "the runaround," Vodrey called Emily Grannis of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, who is a volunteer adviser to the paper. Grannis walked Vodrey through the way to request the report.

The Shakerite reported last year that the school has had three sexual assaults in the last five years. Following the September story, SPLC reports, the school began examining strengthening their security.

On Sept. 17, McKeon wrote a letter to students explaining why they'd published the story, and why it mattered, pushing back at complains newspaper staff received.

"Professional journalists could not cover Shaker Heights High School with the same scope and attention to detail that we strive to achieve; we live here," he wrote.

The pros cover all of northeast Ohio and can’t focus on Shaker like Shaker students can. You won’t see Fox 8 covering the Yom Kippur controversy or what the senior lounge is like. You won’t see Channel 3 covering Shaker’s grade inflation or achievement gap. We provide localized, accurate, relevant coverage for Shaker Heights and its high school. We are in a unique position to provide this important coverage, and we will continue to do so.

Correction: This post originally identified Grannis as the paper's adviser. She is a voluntary adviser.

Related: How student reporters ended discrimination among University of Alabama sororities


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