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Students, PTSA head face off over news

Original post made on Apr 23, 2008

A tense stand-off occurred Tuesday between Palo Alto High School's journalism students and PTSA President Preeva Tramiel when she threatened to cut funding to student publications if the journalists didn't change their editorial content.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, April 23, 2008, 6:48 PM

Comments (78)

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Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 23, 2008 at 8:57 pm

This is exactly what a journalism class should be learning. As journalists, they have to use their medium to be fair and honest. As responsible citizens, they have to decide whether or not to give information to authorities. Whether they could write an editorial or not is not an issue. Using their newspaper to get inside information is something professional journalists do all the time and by divulging information may make them lose a future source. All these things should be taken into consideration by the editor.

As for the PTSA president, whereby she can disapprove as an individual, taking the responsibility of a decision like this on behalf of the PTSA as a body is not within her mandate. She can acknowledge her disapproval as an individual in any manner she chooses, but that must be her personally not on behalf of the PTSA/

The PTSA or PTAs in general cannot be run by individuals who have their own agenda, political or other. They are to follow the rules set down in the bylaws. I am pleased that the president in this case realised the folly of her ways.


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Posted by Paly Journalism Student
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 23, 2008 at 9:39 pm

I would just like to know why the Campanile and the Viking are recognized in this article, but the Paly Online Journalism Voice and Paly news magazine Verde, were not recognized. Voice won a pacemaker, top award for any student-run publication. Verde won 3rd in the Best of Show.

The odd thing is that Campanile won 8th place and yet it is mention, but no, not Verde or Voice.


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Posted by Paly Junior
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 23, 2008 at 9:41 pm

Go California Shield Laws, go!


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Posted by Paly Junior, Verde
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 23, 2008 at 9:43 pm

I agree with Paly Journalism Student.

Representatives from the two other journalism programs (Voice and Verde, including the broadcasted Infocus) were present at the meeting, but were not addressed.

How about a couple of quotes from them?


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Posted by Peter Johnson
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 23, 2008 at 9:49 pm

Guys, why don't we address the actual issue in this article and not who's mentioned or quoted. It's not a big deal nor does anybody in Palo Alto care about the absence of voice or verde in this particular article.


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Posted by Ex-editor-in-cheif
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 23, 2008 at 10:09 pm

I agree with Paly Junior, Verde and Paly Journalism student. Voice and Verde weren't even mentioned. When Voice won the most prestigious award in high school journalism, the Pacemaker. And Verde, who has won a Pacemaker and was 3rd best in show just last weekend. But overall good article, it's good to make sure the community knows about this issue.


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Posted by Student
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 23, 2008 at 10:57 pm

Son and wife of the Weekly's publisher are quoted? Nice!


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Posted by Noah Sneider
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 23, 2008 at 11:13 pm

Ms. Tramiel's comments both in the meeting (which I was at) and in this article are not only disturbing, but frankly insulting to the work that the dedicated staffs of Campy, Voice, Verde, Viking, and InFocus put in. Part of what has made Paly journalism such a successful and nationally renowned program is that we operate under standards that are as close to professional quality as possible, and that includes a strict journalistic integrity that we take very seriously. The decision to publish controversial news is often extremely difficult for editors, but our responsibility as journalists is not to catch perpetrators and enforce the law, but rather to inform the community on what has happened. Our place in the thread of collective responsibility lies in our ability to report news accurately and clearly, and if we have done our jobs the consequences of the action will be clear in the story, and that will hopefully lead students to think twice before committing similar acts in the future.


Ms. Tramiel never back-tracked on her threat to cut funding during the meeting (as evidenced by her e-mail to Ms. Lobdell), and only when the incoming PTSA president (whose name I don't recall) guaranteed that funding would not be at risk when she was in charge did Ms. Tramiel stop trying to threaten cutting funds.

I have no problem with an open dialogue about the content of any of the publications, it is part of good journalism, and myself and the editors of all the other publications welcome letters to the editors. I also have no problem meeting face to face with anyone who comes to us with more serious individual concerns, however, Ms. Tramiel's decision to leverage her position in the meeting by coming to us as the PTSA president and threatening action under that title suggests that she either has no respect for the intelligence of the students she approached or that she severely misunderstands her role as a representative of a larger group of parents. She clearly stated during the meeting that NO OTHER PARENTS had approached her with similar concerns and that there was no consensus on the board, and when we questioned her on this matter she told us that "she was the one who signed the checks". It is disturbing that this is the view of the president of the entire PTA.

I find it appalling that an adult woman who came to us with concerns about the "moral degradation" of the Paly student community and the "apathy" that she witnessed following two isolated incidences on vandalism, acted in such a manner herself. If she was trying to set an example of civic responsibility, she surely failed.


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Posted by Another Paly Journalism Student
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 23, 2008 at 11:16 pm

In all honesty, I think that this argument presented by the PTSA in which is stated that Paly journalists did not publish certain editorials to "look cool" or disclose the name of vandals to the PTSA is an utter insult to journalism integrity.

To Ms. PTSA President: have a little faith in the students!
Your condescending remarks demonstrate the clear disrespect for student journalists. Do you honestly think that student journalists don't care when the people they interview don't take them seriously? Or that the public thinks that student journalist produced work is complete bull----? It happens all the time. And you're a clear example.

And in truth, if you took away funding from Paly's journalism programs, which are a huge part of the school, you should expect to see a lot more backlash from the students in the future. Be aware of the hundreds of students that you're messing with.


And to the reporter for this article, good coverage, but don't forget to mention Voice and Verde.


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Posted by Paly journalist
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 23, 2008 at 11:52 pm

Yes where is voice and verde?

I am also quite disappointed in ms. tramiel. I do not think the editors of Campanile, should ethically and morally give in their names to the administration. This is called bad journalism to promise not to give out someones name, but then do.

And also,

Loud thinking is not very good Ms. Tramiel (if you are reading this)


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 24, 2008 at 3:14 am

The folk who carry legal responsibility for the content of a publication must be the arbitor of what is published.
Shield laws assume that newspapers have a right superior to the commoners to withhold information. Shield laws are wrong. Zenger demonstrated the right to print the truth, not the right to withhold it.


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Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 24, 2008 at 8:54 am

I am not a parent of a student who is involved with any of the publications, but I am a dues paying member of the PTA. I am appalled and absolutely SHOCKED that Ms. Tramiel thinks she alone controls the PTA's coffers. Moreover, I'm concerned that she made the threats to cut off funds while the principal was standing in the room, but little was done to stop her tirade. Can any of those who participated in the meeting tell us if the other adults in the room defended the publications or their student editors? I think Ms. Tramiel is the one who should be cut off from all PTA funds and if she wants to restore any honor to her name should resign as president of the PTA immediately.


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Posted by Arden Pennell
Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
on Apr 24, 2008 at 9:45 am

Arden Pennell is a registered user.

Hi,

Thanks everyone for taking a minute to comment.

To those concerned we didn't cover the other publications awarded, I point you to our story posted Tuesday about the awards: Web Link

The reason I stuck to The Campanile and The Viking for this article is that the former is the subject of Preeva Tramiel's concern and the latter was most highly awarded and so a good, quick example of student journalists' accomplishments. It would have been distracting to the story at hand list every award, as well as duplicative of our earlier coverage.

Arden


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2008 at 10:05 am

Wow, if Tramiel wanted editorials, I'm sure she's about to get her wish, and then some. Go Paly journalism... do your thing!


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Posted by Former Student
a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2008 at 10:14 am

What should also be brought to light is the number of drug articles that have been happening. Drugs are prevalent in the Palo Alto community, but it's taking it too far by writing articles on it.

Web Link

Is this really necessary?


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Posted by wow
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 24, 2008 at 10:33 am

Former student
Your comment is sure to get a lot of responses as it is so inherently contradictory.

Yes - it is absolutely necessary for the very reason you assert: "Drugs are prevalent in the Palo Alto community"

But you really should start a separate thread as your comment has no bearing on the story at hand. It distracts from the main focus of this issue which is the incredulous threats uttered by Tramiel who sould resign effective immediately for the good of the parent-teacher-student association she purportedly cares about.


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Posted by Student
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 24, 2008 at 10:37 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by another Palyparent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 24, 2008 at 11:49 am

So it's all about publicizing who - which groups, which students received the most awards? - how shallow.

I am more interested in the original basis for this discussion - how much influence the PTSA president has over the Paly journalism program and the ability to go charging in there. This is clearly controversial.

As a parent I really valued the article(s) about hazing at Paly and commend the student authors of that expose. I think Paly journalism program is excellent (disclosure: I do not have students involved in the program) and what's more, they are better than the Stanford Daily.




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Posted by Parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 24, 2008 at 12:00 pm

First, to Ooof with the head, Tramiel did apologize last year in the online edition of the Voice. Why don't you sign your name?


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Posted by Preeva Tramiel
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 24, 2008 at 12:19 pm

Well, next time I try to get students to realize they are part of the Paly community, I'd better stay clear of the children of the Paly Alto Weekly staff. because Mommy and Daddy seem to be interceding for them. Let me tell you the students conducted themselves with dignity and grace in the meeting, and do not need parents rescuing them.

This whole exchange speaks to a point I made in the meeting--Palo Alto High is a fractured community, a series of little fiefdoms whose members have no sense of the public good, only their own awards, programs, and grades. Citizenship, while on the curriculum, does not seem to be on the radar. Sharing opinions is good--I shared mine, and certainly am hearing a lot of yours!

--Preeva Tramiel


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Posted by PA Dad
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 24, 2008 at 12:30 pm

I hope that as they reflect (and joyfully editorialize!) on Ms. Tramiel's actions, Paly journalists will take the time to ask themselves whether the fabled neutrality of American journalism that they will inevitably invoke really exists.

Ms. Tramiel's error wasn't in trying to control the editorial slant of a publication, it was in thinking she had the power and authority to do that where she didn't. But every newspaper has an owner and that's true of the Play journals as much as it is for the PA Daily, Weekly, the Chronicle or the Santa Barbara News-Press. The latter -- as the new documentary "Citizen McCaw" tells -- was the site of a particularly open fight between the proprietor and the editor. Usually, conflicts are not that open and the both sides are in rough agreement about what they should and should not publish. But the fact remains that editors serve at their publisher's pleasure. Check out what happened at the Wall St Journal this week: the editor left because he couldn't work with the new owner's news values.

Journalists can get all huffy about their sacred editorial neutrality but they need to get published. And in a culture where most news is paid for by commercial advertising, most editors know where their bread is buttered and work hard not to rock the commercial boat.

Interestingly, thanks to Craigslist and similar sites, that model is dying. That may free up journalists to be -- finally -- truly independent. But it also means they're going to have to find another way to get paid.

For the excellent (if maybe a little vain) young writers at Paly, this is indeed, a great learning experience. But the lesson shouldn't be that righteous writers trump mean owners. They never have. If Ms. Traviel really had the authority she claimed, there'd be no argument -- she'd win.


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Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2008 at 12:46 pm

PA Dad

I agree with you completely.

There is however the other issue which is more to do with the PTA than the journalism.

Should we have officers on the PTA who consider themselves in a position where they can make a momentary decision on a subject which has not been brought to the full PTA's notice. Whether the PTA should actually get involved in the journalism is another, but in my mind lesser issue.

If one PTA president starts acting as if she is indeed in charge of the PTA and makes decisions on her own as to how the PTA responds in a certain situation, are we not in fact invoking too much power on the individual in office.

I belong to the PTA but there are issues that I probably would not agree with everyone on. A few years ago there was talk about the PTA voting and agreeing on an issue to do with gay lifestyle (I forget the exact details) but there was an uproar. If someone calling themselves president of ___ school PTA makes a comment then it is on behalf of the whole PTA and not themselves as individuals then it is fundamentally wrong. For them to go even further and threaten to stop funding for something without it being discusses at the PTA board, then it is even more wrong.

As some above has said, this particular president has stepped over the mark and perhaps a resignation would be in order.


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Posted by sg
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 24, 2008 at 12:55 pm

Preeva Tramiel: "Sharing opinions is good"
Agreed. Thinking before you speak or write is good, too. Although the quoting of family members for the Weekly's article was repulsive (couldn't they find other sources to quote?), I don't see this as Mommy & Daddy interceding. It's a story, like it or not, family ties or not. You made it so, not the Johnsons.
It's a shame that you view the community you lead with such disdain. I was appalled by earlier comments for you to step down, but if this is your attitude then I look forward to new leadership.


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Posted by another Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 24, 2008 at 12:58 pm

I worked in display advertising at a city magazine and we kept scrupulously separate from editorial - I wasn't close to the editorial people at all


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Posted by Dave
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 24, 2008 at 1:09 pm

Preeva Tramiel should be removed from her post immediately.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by OMG
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 24, 2008 at 1:34 pm

Why is this article focused on Viking, seriously. Campanile was more involved than any of the other publications. Questionable article.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by verde editor
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 24, 2008 at 1:36 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Parent of former paly students
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 24, 2008 at 1:42 pm

Oh, for heaven's sake! This is the action of a high school student! It has been my observation that Palo Alto generally excuses a lapse of judgment, or a lack of understanding about how things work, when we are talking about a young adult of this age. We hope they will learn something from their experience and we encourage them to that end. This young woman may have caused an uproar, but she did not cause any permanent damage. When I contrast the comments I'm reading here to, say, the comments supporting a student whose senior prank involved a Volvo -- I'm purposely not mentioning his name -- frankly, I'm shocked by the hypocrisy. This girl stood up for her values and tried to do the right thing. I respect her for that. She has moved away from the portion of her conduct that was erroneous, so let her be. Or has Palo Alto Online has evolved into such sa pool of piranhas that now we eat our young ones for sport?


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Posted by Parent of former paly students
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 24, 2008 at 1:57 pm

Okay, I thought this was a Paly student getting lambasted. I checked and found out it's an adult. I feel better knowing it's not a student, but still, I think this discussion could tone down a bit. Maybe the remarks could be a tad less personal.


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Posted by sg
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 24, 2008 at 1:58 pm

Parent of fps, you are mistaken. This is a grown woman, a parent at Paly, who through her odd behavior and remarks has fooled you into thinking she is a girl. She is the PTSA (high school equivalent of PTA) President. Does this change your opinion in any way? I would hope so.


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Posted by Parent of former paly students
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 24, 2008 at 2:41 pm

sg, the truth is, she didn't fool me into thinking she was a girl. When I read the story, for some reason I thought "ASB" when I read "PTSA". I didn't realize my mistake because, at my youngest child's college, students are making these kinds of decisions, not adults. So it seemed natural that a student could be saying these things.

Knowing now that it's an adult rather than a student changes my opinion somewhat, but it doesn't reverse it. I still think that if she has backed off from her erroneous position or behavior, people should get over it rather than continuing to make personal remarks. It appears that a good number of these remarks are coming from students, so I can chalk that up to them needing to grow a bit more. But this thread needs to move away from personal remarks and back into meaningful discussion, or else it's a waste.


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Posted by Former Student
a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2008 at 3:13 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by sara n
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 24, 2008 at 3:45 pm



The Paly students on this thread sound like a bunch of spoiled brats

There journalism appears to condone drug use and vandalism, this is not a matter for the PTSA but for the PAPD


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 24, 2008 at 4:28 pm

Elected representatives, surprise!, represent those who elect them.If they exceed their office, it is an internal affair. Don't get all dewey-eyed just because someone criticized a paperette.


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Posted by wow
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 24, 2008 at 4:50 pm

Preeva Tramiel writes

"Well, next time I try to get students to realize they are part of the Paly community, I'd better stay clear of the children of the Paly Alto Weekly staff. because Mommy and Daddy seem to be interceding for them. Let me tell you the students conducted themselves with dignity and grace in the meeting, and do not need parents rescuing them.

This whole exchange speaks to a point I made in the meeting--Palo Alto High is a fractured community, a series of little fiefdoms whose members have no sense of the public good, only their own awards, programs, and grades. Citizenship, while on the curriculum, does not seem to be on the radar. Sharing opinions is good--I shared mine, and certainly am hearing a lot of yours!"


While it's great to try to distract the discussion with the idea of trying to shift attention to fully-disclosed relationships of the reporting party and the folks interviewed, frankly you miss the point.

How can a leader of PTSA continue on in a position of representing that body if they don't understand the basics of their leadership role. These are not YOUR funds to decide as you implied.

While it's equally great that you finally got it, it's disturbing to me that you didn't get it from the outset. Frankly, not sure how confidence can be restored in your leadership since there's a wide divide between your honorable intentions of wanting a unified, accountable Paly community and your misplaced presumption that your leadership role somehow gave you the right to even suggest such a threat to curail funding without first discussing it with the body you preside over.

Were it not for the honesty of your intentions, I'd say "shame on you". Instead, I ask that you give serious thought to not furthering the erosion of confidence of all Paly PTSA members by gracefully resigning your post effective immediately.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 24, 2008 at 5:01 pm

I have to agree with WOW... The sarcasm in Ms. Previa's posted note and her disdain for the students at Paly is very concerning. She obviously has very strong, negative feelings for the people at Paly. Perhaps it's time for her to step aside....I don't want her representing me as the parent leader for Paly.


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Posted by Parent of former paly students
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 24, 2008 at 5:22 pm

Wow, are you sure the resignation you are requesting (and the possible chaos within the PTA that could result) is really the best course? I am not aware of all the goings-on at Paly these days since my kids have graduated. But unless there's a lot more to this picture, I worry that your proposed solution might cause greater problems than the one you are seeking to remedy. As a PTSA member, my confidence would be eroded much more by a sudden shake-up within the executive board than it would by watching the organization work through a challenging situation and succeed. Just my two cents.


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Posted by Preeva Tramiel
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 24, 2008 at 5:40 pm

I am writing to reiterate the apology I made to the student ediors. I also need to apologize to the PTSA membership and Paly community, as well, for breaching protocol and overstepping my authority as PTSA President.
I acted out of frustration at several situations at Paly, and the student editors, unfortunately, ended up in my line of fire. I was wrong to try to influence them, wrong to state I have more power than a PTSA president has. I should have restricted my comments to a letter to the editor. Please understand I want only the best for the Paly community, and want to preserve and expand the goodness I see there, especially in the PTSA membership.

Thank you all for your consideration and your concern about our schools.

Preeva Tramiel




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Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 24, 2008 at 5:42 pm

When I first noticed that Preeva had decided to write a post on this thread, I felt sure that she must be posting to apologise to the PTSA body that she had acted hastily and had withdrawn her comments. On reading the actual post I was quite honestly dumbfounded as to her intentions. Whereas what she says about the Paly community, the conduct of the kids at the meeting and even the wisdom of using the Weekly's kids themselves quoted in their own argument, may be worth saying, the overall tone of the comment and the lack of acceptance of wrongdoing on her own part made the whole post another nail in her coffin.

Preeva, I do not know you exact by sight, but in this affair you have shown poor leadership and acting outside your charter. Please rethink what you are saying and how you are acting and if you do decide to come back to make another comment, please do so in the light of what is being said against you and why it is being said.

Thank you.


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Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 24, 2008 at 5:45 pm

My post above was written with only the first of Preeva's comments posted and the second was written at the same time as mine.

Thank you Preeva for your second post, it is appreciated.


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Posted by Paly 77
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2008 at 7:08 pm

"The Paly students on this thread sound like a bunch of spoiled brats

There journalism appears to condone drug use and vandalism, this is not a matter for the PTSA but for the PAPD"

Sara N - I'd rather be seen as spoiled Paly student than as an illiterate Gunn student. Perhaps if your English skills were better you to could become a journalist! Hit those books!






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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2008 at 7:13 pm

Paly 77

Don't get too big for your boots, "you to (sic) could become a journalist" too is the correct form.


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Posted by Dan Dykwel, Palo Alto PTA Council President
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 24, 2008 at 8:24 pm

This has been quite a heated discussion and I'd like to help moderate the situation. First, I applaud the professional and award-winning journalism being done by the students of all the Paly media outlets and for their understanding and defense of the first amendment and our shield laws. My son, who has since graduated, wrote for Verde magazine and I saw first hand the hard work and dedication of all the students and staff.

It was as a Paly parent that I first met Preeva and I have always known her to be passionate about our schools. Her commitment to students and service to the PTSA are strong and sincere. As an individual, Preeva is bold and unafraid to express her thoughts…sometimes at a cost.

When I became aware of the situation today, I called Preeva to understand the chain of events and her motivation. She has described her frustration in her apology. We discussed the responsibilities of her position and the limitations that prevent unilateral actions not previously approved by the executive board of the PTSA. We also reviewed the bylaws and what can and cannot be done.

Preeva has been a generous contributor of her time and resources, and her leadership at the Paly PTSA has been valuable to our community. I continue to believe in Preeva's ability to fulfill her role as Paly's PTSA president. This incident was unfortunate and regrettable, but I ask that you accept the humble apology she has offered in good faith and let us continue our volunteer work and our dedication to improve the lives of our students and families.


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Posted by Former Student
a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2008 at 8:44 pm

What's up with my post getting deleted? It contained nothing offensive, it just said that if an editor of a student magazine is going to complain about someone's grammar, they should have good grammar.

WHY DID MY POST GET DELETED?


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Posted by a Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 24, 2008 at 9:03 pm

While it's nice to have powerful friends come to one's aid...who started this and with what tone? Just a reminder...


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Posted by Jon, a Campanile student
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 24, 2008 at 9:34 pm

Mr. Dykwel's comment is very elegantly written. surprising as this may sound Ms. Tramiel is not the only one who has erred in this whole discourse, despite being the instigator; students, parents and members of the community have also responded in manners that contain equal if not worse remarks, as evident in the censorship exercised by the Weekly staff. (Honestly, Arden, it would be much more helpful if the Weekly gave a disclaimer below the "add a comment" title or within the censored text to justify such actions, even as legitimate as they might be).

I also have a question for Mrs. Tramiel. You write:

"Palo Alto High is a fractured community, a series of little fiefdoms whose members have no sense of the public good, only their own awards, programs, and grades. Citizenship, while on the curriculum, does not seem to be on the radar."

Would that be your characterization of the Campanile, as well as other programs within the Paly community? At times it may seem that way, and from my experience, the community as I know it carries a gamut of characterizations, ranging from self-serving, snobby and arrogant all the way to empathetic, loving and respectful. Therefore, is it possible to generalize?

I personally would offer that in our pursuits of our program and our grades(awards follow our efforts, and are not necessarily the driving force), we do keep in mind the effect our words have on the community. Each story is run through a section editor, three editors-in-chief, and our advisor before it can be published. The intent is to maximize the quality of the pieces and prevent libel, and certainly Campanile may have made mistakes, yet when those mistakes are brought to the attention of the staff, then corrections are reprinted. Arguments made against editorial decisions can also be sent as letters to the editor, and the size of the section devoted to those letters has been increased in the last few issues.

The community can use more trust and respect, if that is enough for a definition of citizenship, but certainly it is hard for anyone to make such statements from a pedestal, and should one make that argument, one must take into account how the message is conveyed in order to maximize acceptance and overall effectiveness.

The big question remains: What's next?


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Posted by PA Dad
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 24, 2008 at 9:53 pm

Fascinating how this online forum is moving the story on all by itself. Play student journos (the main readers of this thread, I'm sure), take note.

Used to be that the reporter filed the story then waited on reaction, then called around to see if the story had legs for the next issue. Here responses of real news value (Ms. Tramiel's overly-hasty reply, the negative reaction it got her, her semi-retraction, the PTA Council President weighing in) have all happened without Arden Pennell having to lift a finger.

A few years ago, if this story even got reported, the biggest ripple it would have caused would likely have been a single letter to the editor published a few days later. Ms. Tramiel would have been able to ride out the ripple in relative obscurity. Not so anymore.

What does this tell us? Maybe that even in Palo Alto we now have an accelerated news cycle. That readers are playing a part in shaping the story in ways that never used to happen. That public figures need to expect this kind of very public (and not always even-handed) scrutiny of their actions.

This really is a story of very little consequence (hope you can accept that, students!). But it is indicative of how journalism is changing.

Is the public better served as a result? Has this forum -- in this tiny instance -- worked to further the highest aims of the fourth estate?

On balance, I'd say it has. It really seems like Ms. Tramiel has been persuaded by public reaction in this forum to do the right thing. For me, at least, she's cauterized the issue through her apology here.

I do worry, though, that the added scrutiny and the invitation to carp anonymously that this forum provides will make it ever harder to find fundamentally good people, like Ms. Tremiel seems to be, willing to take leadership positions in our city and schools.

I'd be interested in hearing whether the publishers of the Weekly acknowledge this and how they think they can keep the best things that this forum has brought our town (which I'd characterize as improved citizen oversight) and still have its most public-minded citizens to want take positions of responsibility when they know they'll be sitting targets for a bunch of stay-at-home keyboard know-it-alls!


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Posted by Pablo
a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2008 at 9:37 am

When Mrs. Tramiel writes that journalists get fired for writing negative stories about advertisers, I wonder what paper(s) she's thinking of. I see such stories every day. No one gets fired. Advertisers may complain or pull their advertising. That's about it. I'm sure there are papers where it's happened but not too many.


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Posted by sue
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 25, 2008 at 1:52 pm



I think it is great that we have a real choice of high schools in Palo Alto

Paly thrives on turmoil about Drama, Journalism and Football and wins in all three.

Gunn quietly excels in Math, Science and Advanced Palecement.

That real diversity!


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Posted by PA Dad
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 25, 2008 at 1:56 pm

Sue -- I know your tongue is firmly in cheek, but really, for whom are the high schools a choice? Can prospective freshman name which they'd like to go to? Not as far as I know.


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Posted by Paly student
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 25, 2008 at 2:10 pm

Sue,

Are you serious? Paly has done exceptionally well in the math and sciences. We recently had seven students qualify for the United States of America Math Olympiad - which is the fifth highest in the nation and highest among public schools! Our Science Olympiad team also qualified for the State Competition.

Both Paly and Gunn are quality schools and have students who excel in ALL areas.


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Posted by sue
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 25, 2008 at 2:13 pm

>Can prospective freshman name which they'd like to go to? Not as far as I know.<

No---- but the parents can choose which school district they want to live in based on their values re education--- so there is real parental choice in Palo Alto

I do not know exactly where the private schools fit on the Drama vs Performance spectrum but as placement there is based on economic investment by the parents I bet the score far on the Performance side IMHO


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Posted by wow
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 25, 2008 at 3:20 pm

Preeva
It's nice to read the apology from you. It's consistent with well-intentioned but grossly mis-directed efforts on behalf of the Paly community.

My point remains however that if the level of frustration has reached the point where it spilled over into inappropriate usage or understanding of your role and limitations as PTSA president, it's time to resign and move on.

Learn from this experience and apply your considerable and well-intentioned efforts to other volunteer efforts. There are a host of opportunities available.

Parent of former paly students wrote in a differing opinion
"As a PTSA member, my confidence would be eroded much more by a sudden shake-up within the executive board than it would by watching the organization work through a challenging situation and succeed. Just my two cents."

I don't think a "huge shake-up" could result in confidence being eroded more than what has already occurred. Preeva's apology (finally) was gracious and unconditional but it doesn't change the frustration level she's reached by virtue of her own admission. I think she owes it to both the Paly community -- as well as herself -- to take a breather from this stress level and this incident so PTSA can move on. Her fervor and commitment to the Paly community are not in question, but a time-out is in order.



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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 25, 2008 at 3:22 pm

Parents who choose to live in Palo Alto still don't always get to have their child in the "neighborhood" school. I was told a few days ago that Gunn is closed to all new students, so someone "choosing" to move to the Gunn part of PAUSD will go to Paly. There are going to be between 10-15 kinders in North Palo Alto who will get to "choose" to go to a non-neighborhood school because of overenrollment.

Both Gunn and Paly are great schools - we are lucky to have them.


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Posted by interesting
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 25, 2008 at 3:38 pm

I do not have a student at Paly but this is another case of Preeva sharing her extreme views of the students from her home town and signing as a PTSA president:

March 26th Weekly editorial:

Web Link


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Posted by sue
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 25, 2008 at 3:43 pm



There are approximately 700 Tinsely/VTP students in the PAUSD who come here from Ravens Wood School District as part of some out dated litigation from the 70s and 80s

Without these VTP students Palo Alto parents and students would have a fairer choice and less crowded schools

I believe it is time to stop the VTP program and give our schools back to the tax paying residents of PA


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Posted by enough already
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 25, 2008 at 4:18 pm

Sue,
Please start a new thread for VTP. It's time that discussion had its own place and stops taking over every other school related thread.


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Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 25, 2008 at 7:50 pm

Why does Ms. Tramiel post her apologies here? Shouldn't she get the students, teachers and staff that attended the original meeting together and apologize to them face to face?


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Posted by clueless parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 26, 2008 at 10:49 am

What I don't get out of this whole story is how Ms. Tramiel "knew" Paly journalist students "knew" who the vandalism perpetrators were -did she overhear them talking about it? Or did the students make reference to the perpetrators in their article(s)? Thanks for the clarification.


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Posted by clued-n
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 26, 2008 at 2:35 pm

Very good question, Clueless. The people who did the vandalism in January gave their pictures to a Campanile staff member, and then the Campanile put the pictures on its front page. It's not like there was a tip, and then a student photographer ran over to the crime scene.

It is important to note that the Campanile was the only student publication to print pictures of the vandalism. The other student journalism publications, the online Voice and newsmagazine Verde, did not do so, even though they could have. Perhaps Ms. Tramiel should have taken that into account.


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Posted by big picture
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 26, 2008 at 11:37 pm

hey folks - everyone take a deep breath. Life is good.... but if anyone is still reading here, I think Ms. Tramiel's apology says enough about that topic. I totally understand her view point though - if pranksters (criminals, in fact, breaking and entering and vandalizing) send info to journalists, there's NO prior agreement to protect identity, is there?. Or if there was, that seems like conspiracy. Where in any journalisticcode of ethics does it say criminals are protected if they want to advertise their crime? Seriously, student journalists, your understanding if this issues seems pretty limited. Shield laws are for when you or the public need information about a story, aren't they?. If someone just comes to you or emails you and admits to a crime, you can't keep your ethics by saying "thanks for the story or photo, and don't worry, we'll protect your identity," - if that's what really happened. And using their picture instead of your own looks pretty weak too, like approval or sympathy. Hats off to the journalists who knew better and ran the story without glorifying the perps.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 27, 2008 at 10:13 am

Big Picture

Deep Breath excepted about the journalism, but the more important issue to many is the leadership of the PTA. I feel that the apology is acceptable, particularly the apology done in person to those who were present and fully involved and secondly to the apology here online to the many of us parent watchers who were worried about what happens to our pta gifts.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 27, 2008 at 11:58 am

Couple of things on the journalism ethics side. You don't burn sources, period. We don't know if there were any guarantees of confidentiality regarding the photos because we don't know the details. Yeah, it's a little iffy--but it's even more iffy to push journalists for the information through threats of pulling funding.

Regarding legal responsibilities--somehow I don't think anyone's ever going to make a case that the PTSA is legally responsible for the vandalism--Walter's point is moot.

Traditionally at publications there's a wall between the publishing and editorial sides. Too much interference in the editorial side shreds a paper's credibility as any sort of objective new source. You're basically damaging the product at this point. Compromises do get made, but less often than you might think.

For example, the family that owned the Wall St. Journal prior to the sale to Murdoch were actually fairly liberal politically--but the WSJ's editorial page is famously conservative. Yeah, the *owners* of the paper were that hands-off. Now, of course, there's the changes under Murdoch who's clearly more hands-on--though even he has to be careful--get too much in the way of the WSJ's editorial independence and you weaken the paper. If readers feel they can't trust the paper, they'll look elsewhere for information.

I appreciate that Preeva Tramiel apologized, but I'm sorry to see that she first wrote one of the brattier comments in the thread. I could feel my rebellious inner teen-ager react sarcastically in response. Not good.


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Posted by Gary
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 27, 2008 at 12:29 pm

"the vandal -- who removed space-bar keys from library computers and littered the room with thousands of print-outs of Chairman Mao in January"

Mao was responsible for the murder of tens of millions of his own people, and he was the architect of the subjugation of Tibet. If the vandal had strewn the place with print-outs of Hitler, would the Campanile remain editorially silent? Or is the Campanile a silent partner in hate crimes like this? Or did I misread the original quote in the article that started this thread (e.g. is "Chairman Mao" the name of a skinhead band?).

Bottom line: Where is the moral outrage? Where is the leadership by editors of the Campanile? A surface read of this thing suggests that the prez of the PTSA had the same reaction I do. She did not approach it the right way, but the outrage should not be focused on her mistake, rather on the lack of judgement by the Campanile.


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Posted by Mulling
a resident of another community
on Apr 27, 2008 at 9:26 pm

"big picture" gets it right: If a vandal contacted the Campanile and gave up the information and photo without first arranging the source-confidentiality deal, then the student journalists were under no obligation to honor a later request for anonymity.

The terms of the deal have to be negotiated before the information is passed on.

It is not at all clear from what we've heard from Campy that this was the case.

What could have happened is that the vandals sent the photo to the Campanile reporter without first clarifying the demand for anonymity and said, "Do you want to publish this?" In that circumstance, the reporter would be entirely free to rat out the source.

You want to be Deep Throat? You want to be on "deep background" or named only as an "anonymous source"? Make the arrangement before you spill your goods. And if you're a reporter, don't get sucked into an anonymity deal you later won't feel comfortable defending.

That gets us back to the Campanile reporter who made this deal. Should he/she still feel comfortable with the deal he/she made? Many of the arguments listed above, indeed Ms. Tramiel's central complaint (on which she acted so awkwardly) should give him/her pause.


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Posted by Tomer Schwartz
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 27, 2008 at 11:29 pm

There are many things that have come up in this thread to which I would like to respond, but I will choose to make one thing very clear. The Campanile in no way condones vandalism or any other illegal action and was in no way a "silent partner" in the vandalism that took place in January. There was an editorial decision made in favor of running a news piece on the issue because we felt that the students of Palo Alto High School had a right to know what went on and that we as journalists had the responsibility to deliver that news through a fair and unbiased article.

Tomer Schwartz
Editor-in-Chief of The Campanile


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Posted by xgames
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 28, 2008 at 1:13 am

Hey Tomer , thanks for posting. I'm sure you all mean well and I don't doubt that as an organization you're against vandalism (bold stand!) yeah, students had a right to know. but why are the vandals taking pics for you? Aren't anon. sources sketchy overall? Does their pic really change the story? I don't know -s eems to me that the photo is what bugs folks more than writing a story. - a few other questions.......
.....Did Campy reporter promise anonymty in order to get more information (picture), or is it just assumed at Paly that you can confess to a reporter because the story comes first?
...... Did any editor check on the source? Is there only one reporter who knows where the pic came from? how can you be so confident that no one from campy was involved in this thing or had someprior knowledge?
.......And regarding any lessons: In the future, would you handle another case the same way? If I tag up your campus and send you a pic, will you run it for me? Why not? Would I have to be a Paly student to make it newsworthy? is there a certain amount of damage needed, or a particular message? What exactly are the criteria people to share crime pics that you'll make the front page?


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Posted by Rachel
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 28, 2008 at 4:37 pm

Campanile is definitely not at fault...It is great to have news like this at a school and for the newspaper to cover it and they definitely should not have to give out names to the administration!


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Posted by VoiceStaffer
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 28, 2008 at 9:28 pm

As a (student) journalist, I would like to concur with OhlonePar. When information is given anonymously, we don't turn in our source. That's pretty much the rule.

Tramiel's actions at the meeting (I was present) probably stemmed from the best of intentions, but the threat to journalism funding was rather a low blow, and completely the wrong way to approach this issue. Her insistence that she "sign[ed] the checks" followed a statement in which she pretty much stated that she could go against the decisions made by the majority of the PTSA.

It seemed to me, as well as the attendees that I spoke to afterward, that Tramiel was not so much unhappy about a story that was written (although many of the comments about the vandalism article were also raised), but about the editorial that wasn't. There are several reasons that the editorial might not have been published, including (but not limited to) a lack of time and/or space and the fact that (as xgames pointed out) an anti-Vandalism stance is not a particularly bold or unusual perspective. I can't speak for the Campanile staff, but I just wanted to point out a few other points.

~Vienna
Features Editor, The Paly Voice


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Posted by Gary
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 28, 2008 at 10:19 pm

"There are several reasons that the editorial might not have been published, including (but not limited to) a lack of time and/or space and the fact that (as xgames pointed out) an anti-Vandalism stance is not a particularly bold or unusual perspective."

Vienna,

If the vandal tagged a thousand swastikas in the library would you have a different opinion? If so, why?


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Posted by Jon
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 28, 2008 at 10:31 pm

Jews. We love our Jewish friends and we grieve over the actions perpetrated by the Holocaust. Reference: The Diary of Anne Frank reenactment.

Guess those won't happen once Mr. McGovern leaves Paly.

Dam shame too.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 29, 2008 at 8:39 am

Is McGovern leaving, or are you just thinking into the far future? Be careful, this is how rumours start.


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Posted by Spencer Sims
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 29, 2008 at 10:14 am

I Think Preeva is 100% correct. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff].


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Posted by Julia
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 29, 2008 at 10:35 am

The McGovern family is actually moving away from Palo Alto at the end of this school year. I'm not sure if Mr. McGovern himself will continue teaching at Paly.


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 29, 2008 at 11:47 am

Whether Preeva was correct in her opinion is not relevant - she had no right use her "power" as PTSA President to forward her own opinion, that's why they vote at meetings.


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Posted by Paly Student
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 29, 2008 at 6:50 pm

Gary:

Mao was not completely an evil person. I cannot deny that he did cause the deaths of millions of people, but his intent and the way he did it was not even close to that of hitler and the nazis. do you know WHY people, my own race, died?

Definetly not because of gas chambers and guns.
If you place Mao and Hitler in the same category, go back to school. They had different visions. Mao is still considered a hero in China, because without his leadership, Chinese people would still be under British rule, or China would be a 3rd world country.

Swastika does not = communist


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Posted by Thought provoker
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2008 at 7:19 pm

Actually, a swastika is a very clever geometric symbol and could be classed in the same category as a see thru cube. It is very unfortunate for us that it has become the symbol of nazi germany and hitler as prior to the 1930s it was thought to be a symbol of good luck. You can actually use a swastika for some thought provoking puzzles if you think of it purely in its geometric terms. It was thus a fun to make geometric shape for children and was often used for decoration the way a heart or clover shape may be used today.

The fact that it is now a symbol of nazi initiated hatred does not take from the fact that many people like to draw it for its clever shape rather than anything to do with its present symbolism.


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Posted by Gary
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 30, 2008 at 3:01 pm

"Swastika does not = communist"

That is a true statement. The hammer and sickle were responsible for MANY more deaths than the swastika!

Remarkable insight on your part, Paly Student, although in the opposite context.

Mao was every bit as bad as Hitler and, in some ways, for similar reasons and motivations. Ask the Tibetans what they think.

Back to the original article in this thread: It is truly remarkable that the Campanile editors decided that a hate crime, committed in their presence, was not worthy of their comment. This says a lot about the education that they are getting at Paly.

I cannot ask you to go back to school, since you appear to already be there. However, it is fair to ask what you are learning there.


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