Reporter fired after story compared local school to 'Mean Girls'

Nightly Noodle Monthly | North Adams Transcript

In a piece called "I Got Fired For Being A Journalist," Isaac Avilucea says Cheyanne Alcombright, the subject of his Oct. 18 story in the North Adams Transcript, told him she'd transferred to a different Massachusetts school even though it had "somewhat inferior academics and athletics." Her old school, Mount Greylock, was like "the movie 'Mean Girls.'"

Avilucea writes that he was fired Friday. Transcript sports editor Josh Colligan read his story, he writes, but Editor-in-Chief Mike Foster "was bothered by the story after fielding calls from school principals and angry parents." In an editorial published Saturday, Foster and Colligan write that they "offer our sincere apologies for any and all harm caused by a story in Friday's sports section."

A segment of the story in question unintentionally cast aspersions on the academics of McCann and colored in a pallor the social environment at Mount Greylock. This serious editorial mistake has caused a great amount of angst for many -- and rightfully so. Not only was it unjust on our part to allow this error to see the light of day, but the statements were simply wrong.

Via e-mail, Avilucea says the "somewhat inferior" line was him paraphrasing Alcombright. "You can make the case I should have attributed that line just to be safe, but that was never added or brought up in the editorial process," he writes. The "Mean Girls" passage is no longer in the online version of Avilucea's story. "The Transcript does not comment on personnel matters," Foster tells Poynter in an email.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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