Editorial: Lack of authenticity in PV ‘s outside coverage

Students voices in the media do not reflect the entire student body

Editorial: Lack of authenticity in PV 's outside coverage

Smoke Signal Editorial Board

It seems that the media has placed a spotlight on the Pascack Valley community lately, what with the recently passed transgender policy, the two recent virtual days, and last spring’s “Peace in PV” controversy.

The fact that this “spotlight” exists in the first place is quite intriguing. Considering that the Mahwah School District, along with several other districts in New Jersey, has passed a very similar transgender policy back in October, why is it that our school was flooded with journalists and media representatives at the Board of Education meeting where the policy was voted on? This policy may seem like “big news” to members of our school community who have never heard of it before, but to major media outlets that cover all of Bergen County or even all of New Jersey, shouldn’t this be seen as old news? In the case of the transgender policy, we weren’t the first school to think of it. So why are we the first school getting such attention for it?

However, the recent transgender policy was not the only occasion this year where PV was under scrutiny by the media. The two virtual school days, which took place in February, gained attention from the press. This is not surprising: most students would agree that, at the very least, they posed as exceedingly unique, distinct days of school. However, PV students had varying opinions about the success of the virtual day; this fact is obvious to students who have spoken to their friends or peers about this issue, but not at all obvious to personnel outside of the PV community whose only sources of information about these schooldays were from professional media outlets. Why? Because although the goal of these media representatives is to remain objective and report on these events in an unbiased manner, the media outlets are unable to do this when PV’s administration only puts them in contact with students who have favorable outlooks on the event.

We are simply pointing out a lack of authenticity when it comes to outside media sources that are supposed to be objectively covering the events of our school.”

Let’s look at some examples: Kax Petkovich, a transgender freshman here at PV, was interviewed by NJ.com about a school policy protecting the rights of transgender students. PV junior Brian Sumereau, an AP student who’s involved in the National Honor Society and debate team, was interviewed by Bergen Record reporter Andrew Wyrich about his experiences with the virtual day. Senior Zak Terzini, PV’s student body president and AP student, was quoted in News 12 New Jersey’s television segment about last year’s “Peace in PV” controversy. 

It’s easy to sense a pattern here. Students who obviously would speak positively about each school function are the ones being quoted in news stories or shoved in front of the camera for media outlets. Why would Petkovich have any negative comments about a policy that protects his rights, and why would Sumereau have any difficulties with a differently styled school day when he obviously excels in academics?

Now, The Smoke Signal is not trying to say that it’s the PV administration’s job to lead outside media outlets to students who would give controversial opinions about their school. We would not particularly expect them to do such a thing. We are simply pointing out a lack of authenticity when it comes to outside media sources that are supposed to be objectively covering the events of our school.

It’s easy to wonder why a used car salesman is ever honest to his clients. After all, he doesn’t have to be; maybe, in fact, he would sell more cars and double his salary if he weren’t genuine and honest while answering clients’ questions. But does that mean this salesman should lie? Or bend the truth? Or not exactly give the whole truth? The Smoke Signal hopes that most people would answer “no” to these questions. We feel that the administration is certainly not allowing outside media sources to gather the whole truth about PV happenings and how students truly feel about them.

Maybe it’s how salesmen sell their cars. Maybe it’s how politicians get their votes. Maybe it’s just a fact of life. But, maybe, what’s wrong is wrong. Don’t sell PV students short. Let them have their varying opinions, and let them be known to outside media coverage.