Media critic

The co-editors in chief of the Wilson Beacon at Woodrow Wilson High School this afternoon reached an agreement with Principal Kimberly Martin to end the regime of prior review instituted at the start of the school year, the editors told the Erik Wemple Blog moments ago.

“We are super-excited,” said Erin Doherty, one of the co-editors in chief. “It’s been a long couple of weeks and it’s so exciting to know that we don’t have to worry about that and that we can kind of go back to actual content in the paper rather than our relationship with this woman.”

The Wilson Beacon has long operated independently of pre-review screening, but Martin launched the practice after coming aboard for this school year. In a statement released by D.C. Public Schools, she justified the policy on the specious reasoning that it would keep students “safe and protected.” Students who brushed against the regime at a previous Martin-run school in Aspen, Colo., didn’t feel that way.

After learning of the prior review, staff of the Wilson Beacon churned out an editorial denouncing it, touching off various postings by D.C. news outlets. Martin signaled that she’d be willing to scale back the policy provided that the newspaper adjusted its editorial policies regarding quote-checking.

In a 3:30 p.m. meeting this afternoon, Doherty and co-editor in chief Helen Malhotra presented to Martin the Wilson Beacon’s amended standards, complete with tabs highlighting the changes. Not only did the publication tighten fact-checking of quotes, but it also put in place extensive article-review requirements for print and Web stories. In each case, the review goes no higher than the paper’s adult advisers. Which means that prior review by Principal Martin is dead. “As long as we changed these things, she wouldn’t need to look over the paper, print or Web, before we published,” Malhotra said.

“I want to thank her for being able to come to a compromise with us without it being detrimental to the success of the Beacon or herself,” Malhotra continued.

As this blog has written, Martin’s controlling ways appear to have met with a stronger backlash in D.C. than in Colorado. “She kind of realized that people support the Beacon and that maybe this wasn’t the fight to pick,” said Doherty.