Excellence in Journalism: The Tiger Transcript and Ipswich Bengal on free press


Joshua Colameta, journalist

2015-03-25 10.24.23

The Tiger Transcript has been operating for years reporting on school, town, and other types of news. Mrs. McShane has been the head of The Tiger Transcript since she arrived at Ipswich High School and it has operated smoothly under the supervision of herself and the administration. Recently Mrs. McShane has been on maternity leave and has just returned this past semester. In that time, a new newspaper, run completely by students, known as The Bengal, has risen.

The Bengal was incorporated first semester in 2014 reporting with multiple issues within IHS. The Bengal is much different than The Tiger Transcript, especially in the fact that The Bengal has no supervision from higher authority. The Bengal prides itself on being “free press” in comparison to The Tiger Transcript, which is a school run newspaper and requires supervision from administration.

In a public school such as Ipswich High School, this supervision, or lack-thereof, can be seen in positive or negative ways. I had the pleasure of interviewing Mrs. McShane about such a topic and she saw both sides evenly, but her thoughts on the matter were, “I think that press is meant to be free and they (students) should be able to explore whatever they want to… However when working within a public school and working with teenagers there has to be a balance between what is appropriate and what is newsworthy… there are certain politics that have to be respected and that being said it’s not The Tiger Transcript’s business to slander or to attack.  But, when talking about student publications that are not being censored or approved at all… I would be nervous as a teacher and as a parent.”

On the other side of the journalistic world in Ipswich High School, The Bengal has stressed a complete lack of supervision and has had multiple statements about their approval of free press in High School and The Bengal.  Matthew Dibello a chief of staff at The Bengal was kind enough to give me his thoughts on the subject, “ The most important principle is free press. We wanted to be able to write whatever we want no matter what and obviously even with no supervision in the school. That is not entirely possible; there are limitations upon what we can say just by the nature of us being Americans. I don’t think those limitations are necessarily bad; they can be good at times but we did decide at the time because we wanted to be as free of a press as we possibly could with no supervision from the school. If this was to be a school sanctioned paper it would have to be reviewed by the administration before every issue and that is something we wanted to avoid, not because we want to use the paper to attack people or write inappropriate things, but because we wanted the have the freedom to publish what we needed to.”

Both sides make good points, but which one is better inside a school system? At the moment both kinds exist with little to no conflict. But what would happen if the Bengal wrote something that the administration did not approve of? In theory can’t the administration simply shut down the Bengal if there is any kind of objection? More issues of the Bengal will be produced and we will never know until something appears in a future issue.