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Why did we cover it?

Truth needed to be told to educate students

Mal Meston, Editor-in-Chief

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While many wonder why a high school newspaper staff would tackle the story of a principal accusing a superintendent of bullying and retaliation, I, as editor-in-chief of The Sailors’ Log, can tell the public that we, as a staff, did not take the decision to print this story lightly.

On Oct. 27, as soon as I read the email sent by Stan Miller, the Shores Board of Education president, I printed out the 53-page investigation report and began to read all of it. Yes, all 53 pages.

As I was plodding through the pages, I was shocked and surprised this was all going on with little acknowledgment from the Shores community.

I then knew the decision to publish the story must not be influenced by just me, so I began to contact all past editors-in-chief of The Sailors’ Log to get their input and opinions on the situation.

All but one of the past EIC’s expressed their desire to publish the story.

Kim Rathsburg, former EIC said, “I believe by allowing The Sailors’ Log to investigate this story, it also speaks volumes to the board about the severity of the allegations as well as shows the students’ support for intolerance to bullying and harassment.”

Additionally, feedback from the executive director of the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association and a newspaper adviser from another local high school was solicited.

I brought all of this information to the current newspaper staff on Nov. 2. I wanted to know what their take on the whole situation was and whether or not they believed the story should be published. All 13 staff members voted to run the story – for one main reason.

The one main reason for publishing the story was to inform Shores students of the real and true allegations placed against Helmer. In the halls, there was too much misinformation and untruths being told.

A staff member and I also attended the Board Meeting on Nov. 6 and Nov. 13 to understand the full process.

The staff and I have heard throughout the hallways of Shores too many rumors being spread about both Helmer and Bustard these past couple of weeks.

All of the staff members of The Sailors’ Log want the false rumors to come to an end, and by doing that, we all decided to publish the story to inform students of what really is happening.

The decision to publish the story was extremely difficult for me and the staff.

We knew that publishing the story could potentially hurt the feelings of a few who were impacted by the investigation report. Both Bustard and Helmer have family at the high school. We spent extra time discussing the impact this story would have on Bustard’s two children, who are sophomores, and Helmer’s one child, a sophomore, and wife, who teaches at the high school.

In the end, we decided that the truth needed to be told.

This is not the first time The Sailors’ Log has covered controversial stories. In the past 10 years, we have covered the controversy involving a transgender to be nominated for Homecoming King in October of 2010; the controversy involving the arrest of a choir accompanist for allegedly having sexual interactions with a student in February of 2012; and the controversy involving three administrative positions to be eliminated to help balance the budget in June of 2013.

The former EIC’s, the staff and the past controversial stories all helped to influence our decision to print the story.

The decision to publish the story of the resignation of superintendent Greg Helmer was strictly to inform Shores students of the real facts so that the false rumors will come to an end.

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Why did we cover it?