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Administrators censor episode of The Mane in violation of state law

Administrators censored last week's episode of The Mane over images of alcohol in a review of local restaurant.

Kennedy Homan

Administrators censored last week's episode of The Mane over images of alcohol in a review of local restaurant.

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The episode of The Mane that aired yesterday was one story shorter than planned. The Metea Valley administrative team censored a segment about a local family restaurant over concerns about footage containing bottles of alcohol behind the bar inside the restaurant. Censorship of student journalism is illegal under most conditions in Illinois.

The segment in question was a review of the new local restaurant and bar Vai’s. The piece was produced by seniors and Mane staffers Triya Mahapatra and Laurel Westphal for The Mane. The segment included interviews with the owners about the restaurant and its origin. Footage containing alcohol appeared twice in the episode, totaling eight seconds of the one minute and 38-second segment.

The Mane staff originally intended for the episode to air last Friday, Sept. 30, but school administrators halted the broadcast until The Mane staff complied with administration’s demands to either remove the restaurant review entirely or to replace the footage of alcohol with other footage.

An unknown member of the Metea administrative team made the decision late on Thursday night to not broadcast the episode as scheduled the next day.

“Around 10:30 PM on Thursday night they sent an email to Kathy Wonsowski, [Nicholas] Grijalva, and Nate [Burleyson] just because he has a position in the class.  Nate informed the media students in a group chat that we have, and they actually talked about it Friday during class,” Mahapatra said. Wonsowski sent the email to Grijalva and Burleyson after being informed by administrators. 

According to Kathy Wonsowski, department chair for business, technology, engineering, and FACS, principal Dr. Darrell Echols approves all episodes of The Mane before they are broadcast. “They were questioning a story just to make sure that we were showing for the right audience,” Wonsowski said. “The issue was dealing with the audience and, ‘Are we representing Metea L.I.F.E.?’”

Echols reviewed the segment earlier this week before finalizing the decision that the segment would need to be edited or removed from the episode. “There were some gratuitous shots of the bar, bottles of alcohol, drinks being mixed, and drinks being poured,” Echols said. “We felt that it was not in line with our school philosophy and our district philosophy because the students that we serve are ages 14 to 18 and not of drinking age. We didn’t feel that part needed to be accentuated in that video, and so we asked them to edit that.”

Administrative censorship of student media is illegal in Illinois, with narrow exceptions. The Illinois Speech Rights of Student Journalists act, signed into law in 2016, prohibits censorship of any Illinois public high school sponsored media produced by student journalists, with exceptions for material that is libelous, obscene, depicting illegal activity, or encouraging illegal activity. While the act does allow for administrators to review material prior to release, it prohibits them from limiting it.

Mike Hiestand, senior legal consultant at the Student Press Law Center, believes that students had the right to publish the segment without removing the footage featuring bottles of alcohol.  

“I don’t see how there is any way that anybody could claim that simply by showing restaurant employees doing their jobs in a business that is a family restaurant that happens to contain a bar where you serve alcohol advocates unlawful drinking,” Hiestand said. “It’s crazy and illegal.”

Although print and broadcast journalism are equally protected under the law, administrators are more involved in approving the content of The Mane. “We have a huge limit as to what we can show. Everything has to be approved. If a student were to talk about drunk driving on The Mane, they would have to get school administration in on that and have them approve that,” Mahapatra said.

The Vai’s segment was not in yesterday’s Mane and will be edited to remove the footage with alcohol bottles and released later.

“I didn’t censor anything. You may call it censorship. I don’t. I call it maintaining the integrity of our programs to make sure they’re in line with our school handbook, which talks specifically about alcohol and the display of alcohol,” Echols said.

The Metea Valley student handbook prohibits the use of alcohol and drugs or associated paraphernalia on page 20. It prohibits clothing or jewelry depicting alcohol or drugs on page 28.

“I guess if they feel this way they really do need to go circling through the library, circling through classrooms ripping out pages and censoring videos. Anything that has any sort of depictions of alcohol in any context. Are we really that naive to think that a student can’t see a picture of a bottle of vodka and not be able to move on past that?” Hiestand said.

The students who made the segment feel frustrated that they are so limited.

“I think it’s ridiculously stupid that we can’t show that because not once are we affiliating with the alcohol. No one was using it. No one was touching it. It was just kind of in the shot,” Mahapatra said. “We can’t ask them to move all the alcohol bottles from the bar. I just think it’s really stupid that we can’t even have that on screen without doubting that students won’t take it the wrong way.”

About the Contributors
Avani Shah, Headlines Editor

Avani Shah is a senior and Headlines Editor for Metea Media. This is her second year on staff. Avani is a black belt in Tang Soo Do. She can often be found...

Kennedy Homan, Graphics Editor

Kennedy Homan is a person of many different problems. She likes ducks too much, she throws stuffed animals at people in school, and she has no social life...

39 Comments

39 Responses to “Administrators censor episode of The Mane in violation of state law”

  1. 我 on October 5th, 2018 7:02 am

    I think this is a underhanded reason to censor it. In AP Euro we were allowed to watch Schindler’s List. I honestly don’t see how this was justifiable. Nobody is going to become an alcoholic from seeing a bar in the school segment. It’s honestly outrageous.

  2. A concerned Metea student on October 5th, 2018 7:09 am

    Absolutely ridiculous the state of censorship for student media. You have to fight for your rights to post that video unedited. The segment clearly does not violate any part of the Illinois law. You guys can’t stand by when they are stripping away the first amendment rights of students.

  3. Yeast Fam on October 5th, 2018 7:10 am

    Dang they really out here censoring us, first coolmathgames now this

  4. new patek on my wrist on October 5th, 2018 7:11 am

    it be like that

  5. Ben Shдругo on October 5th, 2018 7:13 am

    Hey kids, we know what beer is. So get your prohibitionist self out of here. facts don’t care about your feelings

  6. killian kenny on October 5th, 2018 7:29 am

    Oh this is complete crap, it’s just a beverage! No need to cut an entire segment of the mane out of the video because of a damn beverage!

  7. Some boi on October 5th, 2018 7:33 am

    They removed it really quick, too lmao.

  8. Killian Kenny Lover on October 5th, 2018 7:34 am

    It be ya own buddies

  9. Why on October 5th, 2018 7:39 am

    We are teens in high school we are not little preschoolers who need our innocence protected. I think we can handle seing some Beer, or is that to extreme for us high schoolers.?>:(

  10. eggs on October 5th, 2018 8:37 am

    This is beyond too far; a normal part of the Mane is outlooking different upcoming places nearby. Just because there are eight seconds of alcoholic beverages on camera (not to mention, the mane barely makes its presence to a third of classes) does NOT mean the entire Metea Valley High School will have a drinking problem. It’s dramatic.

  11. darkstripe on October 5th, 2018 10:37 am

    breaking news: according to local school, alcohol should have no trace of existence.

    an unknown member of the metea administration proclaimed that even the sight of a beer glass in the distance will activate instant teen alcoholism. their sources remain unconfirmed besides posters determined to be from the prohibition era. “they’re like sharks! the second they even SMELL or THINK of it they’re hooked,” explained the administrator.
    the administrator seemed to refuse the belief that students are competent thinkers.

  12. A Metea student on October 5th, 2018 10:47 am

    First, we are force-fed an extremely biased incomplete curriculum. Then we are completely restricted from creating a school newscast because of laws we are not violating. What’s next?

  13. That one student on October 5th, 2018 11:31 am

    Thank you Administrators, Very cool!

  14. yaga on October 5th, 2018 11:33 am

    my nama jeff

  15. yaga on October 5th, 2018 11:34 am

    yeet

  16. Sophomore English on October 5th, 2018 11:47 am

    We’re reading “Catcher in the Rye” in sophomore english. Holden drinks a lot (underage) and the board approved that book to be used in the classroom. But we can’t see a restaurant have alcohol on its bar?

  17. A Metea Staff dude on October 5th, 2018 12:54 pm

    Administrative Team: Yeah man this is a pretty cool vid- OH MY GOD IS THAT AN ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE?!?!?!
    *Slams delete button*

  18. cow on October 5th, 2018 1:00 pm

    “I didn’t censor anything. You may call it censorship. I don’t. I call it maintaining the integrity of our programs to make sure they’re in line with our school handbook, which talks specifically about alcohol and the display of alcohol,” I didn’t know the school was a commie regime now…….baldy

  19. b00nk on October 5th, 2018 2:52 pm

    First the liberals make a fuss about Kavanaugh liking beer and now they try to censor beer? What has this country come to? This is why we need to MAGA! TRUMP 2020!

  20. Colin Doucette on October 5th, 2018 7:16 pm

    And the staff wonders why I want to transfer so bad. 204 is just… no. Everything been on lock down lately like yall need to chillllllll
    please for the love of god please unblock coolmathgames, add an article about all the fighting, and everyone comment some funny stuff about the fighting lately

  21. Nikki Coryell on October 6th, 2018 2:46 pm

    So according to Dr. Echols’ statement the curriculum of many core courses need to be completely deleted…

  22. Ninja on October 9th, 2018 7:28 am

    The school has ligma.

  23. Sean on October 9th, 2018 7:34 am

    First, stop bringing up coolmath games, that site is not “educational”. And then they block like testtubegames or zachtronics which are probably more educational.

    I think that the mere mention of alcohol CAN have an effect, i.e. trigger some people, or normalize it; however, as pointed out by other students, this is inconsistent with the content of the curriculum, which likely does more to normalize underage drinking than 8 seconds of footage in a bar.

  24. Sean Lu on October 9th, 2018 7:35 am

    First, stop bringing up coolmath games, that site is not “educational”. And then they block like testtubegames or zachtronics which are probably more educational.

    I think that the mere mention of alcohol CAN have an effect, i.e. trigger some people, or normalize it; however, as pointed out by other students, this is inconsistent with the content of the curriculum, which likely does more to normalize underage drinking than 8 seconds of footage in a bar.

  25. R on October 9th, 2018 8:23 am

    I agree with some of the other comments up here. A complete overreaction by the administration and I hope that in the future they will learn to spend their time on more important matters. Wow.

  26. Baller on October 9th, 2018 8:26 am

    Exactly how does the Mane Violate State Law It’s just alcohol who even cares first you block cool math games and GBA ninja and now your censoring the segment SMH this school needs to chill

  27. Egg on October 9th, 2018 8:54 am

    sooooo #unblockcoolmathgames?

  28. Egg on October 9th, 2018 8:55 am

    #UnblockCoolMathGames?

  29. Abigail Burcham on October 9th, 2018 11:27 am

    If things like alcohol or drugs is to be censored, it needs to be consistent. This means no more books in the library that mention them. It does not matter if drugs were the main focus or glorified. No more learning about the dangers of alcohol because if teens see it, that’s promotion, right?. Otherwise, we could do something like only censoring things if they actually glorify or promote drug use. Thank you and goodnight.

  30. Kyle gleason on October 9th, 2018 1:15 pm

    I am liberal and think that guns and alcohol are very wrong and bad! Go hillary! 🙂

  31. Anonomous on October 9th, 2018 8:16 pm

    Oh boy, this will be fun. We watched Schindler’s List last year!!! That had at least 30 minutes of nudity, drinking, and killing. And then now we can’t even watch 8 seconds of it. That is Metea Life for you. Full of contradictions. Funny thing is that half the school probably has had their first drink.

  32. darkstripe on October 10th, 2018 12:55 pm

    this comment section is the most entertaining one so far this year

  33. N Coryell on October 10th, 2018 1:31 pm

    This article was very well done! Extremely professional. Best article I’ve ever read on Metea Media.

  34. Irritated Metea student on October 10th, 2018 1:37 pm

    I think this is completely ludicrous. They censor an entire video for 8 seconds of a drink. It is not like the students are drinking it or promoting drinking, it is simply just showing what the restaurant is. Most restaurants nowadays have bars anyways, so it is not like we don’t know what alcohol is. I am very ashamed at this school and its administrative for wasting a simple review. we are not children. We do not need censorship. (Which this totally is censorship.) This is a step down for our school and our rights. What happened is ILLEGAL.

  35. pablo on October 10th, 2018 1:55 pm

    Literally almost everyone has alcohol out in the open at their house it is something that is just commonly around in our lives. You can go into your garage and see a 12 pack of beer or see hard liquor in your parent’s alcohol cabinet. Even ads for alcohol are everywhere so I do not see the reason why it has to be censored when its barely noticeable. Like honestly come on no one cares at all this is why people hate this school so much.

  36. Pinakin Kale on October 10th, 2018 4:52 pm

    204 chill its literally some beer I think everyone has seen that at some point in their life, first they make a biased report on Kavanaugh, now this? This is just sad

  37. Be a nugget on October 10th, 2018 9:03 pm

    The main reason they seemed to have censored the episode was due to it featuring it alcohol, likening it to wearing t-shirts that support drug or alcohol use. Like many other students have observed, many things done in classrooms have similar or “worse” inappropriate themes.
    For myself, I am currently reading “The Catcher in The Rye,” and Holden, the main character (the protagonist, if you will), has a scotch and soda as his favorite drink and even gets extremely drunk, all while under 21. This example, and many other students’ as well, show two things. One is that it isn’t fair to censor the episode of “The Mane” when there are far worse things in classrooms, and two is that context matters: in the setting of “The Catcher in The Rye,” Holden’s drinking is used to define his attempt to “grow up,” as well as other things my teacher told me I should interpret, and in the removed segment, the drinking is used to just describe the restaurant and bar, not to advocate for it nor even advocate against it.

  38. Anonymous on October 11th, 2018 1:01 pm

    #UNBLOCKCOOLMATHGAMES !!!!!!

  39. Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone! on October 23rd, 2018 8:04 am

    Wait, seriously? We’re HIGH SCHOOLERS. We know what alcohol is. Some even drink it. It’s nothing new to us, and censoring bottles of wine won’t stop parties and underage drinking. I vividly remember being told as a child to never drink and never smoke. My parents kept all their alcohol in a low cabinet in the dining room, and they would sometimes stash Halloween candy there before the holiday. I saw alcohol all the time doing that, and I was 5 or 6. I’ve never touched a drop of beer in my life. The only drinking I’ve done is in very small amounts for religious purposes, and maybe only 5 times on special occasions like Christmas or Easter. Based on what the article said, nothing was encouraged regarding alcohol in the segment. Whatever happened to the good old Looney Tunes days when focusing on drinking and driving on television in a kids’ show is okay to be aired at least once? This may not seem significant, but you have to understand the process behind airing an episode of a show and all of the approving for it that needs to happen. The article said that alcohol was shown for a total of 8 seconds. No one should see 8 seconds of footage having a bottle of alcohol somewhere in the shot as “inappropriate” or “encouraging illegal activity.” Welcome to 2018, everyone. Apparently, the 18th Amendment is still in effect, i.e. the 21st never happened. Just poof. Gone. Didn’t exist. Oh, and the 1st didn’t happen either. So long, freedom of the press. It was nice knowing you, Bill of Rights. Thanks for looking out for our safety, Metea! First, you get mad at students for showing excitement and school spirit for the James-Bond(Las Vegas: The Saga)-themed homecoming YOU approved last year, now you break the law to censor something you’re getting more worked up about than you should be. A really great job you’re doing to protect us.

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Administrators censor episode of The Mane in violation of state law