Monday, December 1, 2008

Media Bullseye on West High

[Lazy Media] A story about the rise in cheating, shoplifting, plagiarism and other ethical and criminal misdeeds among high school students (64 percent reported cheating on a school test in the past year; 36 percent acknowledged using the Internet to plagiarize someone else's work) got the Utah mainstream media (MSM) scrambling for that all-important "local angle."

KSL radio reporter Mary Richards got herself straight over to Salt Lake City's West High School--a whole two blocks from the broadcast studio, and interviewed a freshman who was shocked by the news. OK, fine.

Call me an oversensitive mom. Both of my children are products of West High. The oldest graduated in 2006; the youngest will finish in the spring. As sure as you can count on tulips popping up every April, every time the Salt Lake City MSM needs a local prop for some horrendous national teen-trend piece, a reporter trots on over to West to illustrate the issue. Why? It's two blocks from KSL Broadcast House. It's 3/4 of a mile from KUTV's studio. It's three blocks from The Salt Lake Tribune and about 1/2 mile from the Deseret News.

Meanwhile, the image of West as some lab for social miscreants* builds. In the cheating and shoplifting story, the freshman wasn't targeted as a criminal. She was, though, associated with the national story through her comments. I'm pretty sure West High comes across in this city/state as THE ONLY place for roving thugs, gangs and troubled teens--largely because downtown reporters are too lazy to drive more than a mile to get their angle.

BTW, East High School is only three miles from KSL's studio. Highland High is a whole five miles away. And Skyline High? Downtown-based reporters would have to hop on the freeway to get there, but it's only a 15-minute ride. (Holly Mullen)

*Those social miscreants in the above photo are not from West High, but if you follow the local news they could be.


  1. For Christmas, I'm buying Holly a hyper-sensitivity kit to help her understand when she's taking too much umbrage at something so small.

  2. While you're there, can you buy Mary Richards some effort, and yourself a clue?

  3. Point taken. My point was more that West High was not a victim. I mean, Holly lives on the East side, so her kids must be ELPers or IB students. IE, West High is diversity central in Utah: Rich, poor, middle class, white, black, hispanic, asian, pacific islander, etc..

    I'm not gonna stand up for Marrrry Rrrrrrich-urds (listen to her say her name, and tell me you're not bugged). I'm willing to give props to City Weekly for bird-dogging stories more than your average paper.

  4. Someone needs to chill. Really? This is what you're upset about? West High is a fine school and I think folks who are grads/and their parents have a bit of a complex. Her follow-up story was done at East and Cottonwood. Calm down.

  5. The cheating/plagiarizing rates are the same at the universities - all of 'em.

    School is seen as a hoop rather than a chance.

  6. One kid was in West IB, the other is in plain old West High. So much for stereotypes of who is east and west side. I lived three blocks from West High for several years--the ex, and the children's dad, still lives there. West, and all the schools they attended on the west side of town, are my kids' neighborhood schools.

    And I love West High. Always have. Thanks.

  7. I gotta say... I live in Davis County so I have no first hand knowledge about SL schools. But if you were to ask me where the problems were... I would say West or Kearns. This "Opinion" would be completely driven by the media. I will have to re-evaluate my thinking and use a more critical eye on news stories. Thanks Holly.

  8. West High have a bad rep? Gee there's a shock! I went to West thirty years ago. Back then, Judge had the rep for having the best drug connections. East, Highland, and Skyline had the reputation for being "snotty " schools - not that the kids were perceived as more pure and wholesome overall, but rather that their parents had the money to bail them out and hush up scandals. Were any of these perceptions accurate? I don't know. But just like in the adult world, there are those individuals that excelled, those that didn't, and those that have had a troubled path in life. From all across the Valley, and from all socio-economic groups. Freakin grow up people, and open your perspectives a bit.

  9. As someone whom attended West High in the mid-90's I am not at all surprised that it has the reputation that it has, as it seems to me to be at least partly deserved. I would ask anyone else if they would argue that West has been treated unfairly in way people see it? Does it not have a problem with gangs? Drugs? Violence? Vandalism. If anyone is to blame for giving West students a bad name, I would point the finger at the students of West High.
    Of course I recognize that not all students fit that bill, however, I was given to understand that we are speaking of the student body as a whole. Individuals aside. If you, or your children are/were students of West High, and these stats do not apply to you, then take comfort in that. On the other hand to paraphrase Shakespeare, "Me thinks he/she doth protest too much".


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