Satir­i­cal ar­ti­cle prompts fears at Park­land

Web­site uses photo of lo­cal build­ing in gun vi­o­lence story; of­fi­cials try to al­le­vi­ate con­cerns

The Morning Call - - FRONT PAGE - By Jacqueline Palochko

Web­site uses photo of lo­cal build­ing in gun vi­o­lence story; of­fi­cials try to al­le­vi­ate con­cerns.

A mock ar­ti­cle in the satir­i­cal on­line news­pa­per The Onion about school shoot­ings fea­tured a photo of Park­land High School, prompt­ing South White­hall po­lice and dis­trict ad­min­is­tra­tors to con­sole “dis­traught” stu­dents up­set their school was used for a story de­pict­ing gun vi­o­lence.

On Wed­nes­day, The Onion pub­lished an on­line story with the head­line “School Shooter Thank­fully Stopped Be­fore Do­ing Enough Dam­age To Res­tart Na­tional Gun De­bate.” At the top of the piece was a photo of the Park­land High School build­ing with po­lice tape pho­to­shopped in the fore­ground, im­ply­ing a shoot­ing had oc­curred at the South White­hall Town­ship cam­pus.

The Onion, a dig­i­tal news­pa­per that sat­i­rizes news events, did not im­me­di­ately re­turn phone calls seek­ing com­ment on why and how Park­land High School was cho­sen as art for the story.

Park­land High School shares the same name of the town, Park­land, Florida, where 17 peo­ple were killed at Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School on Valen­tine’s Day 2018.

South White­hall Town­ship po­lice in­ter­viewed Park­land High stu­dents this week to al­le­vi­ate their con­cerns, ac­cord­ing to the Park­land School Dis­trict. The dis­trict also reached out to The Onion ask­ing that the photo be re­moved, Park­land spokes­woman Ni­cole Me­hta McGalla said.

Stu­dents were dis­tressed with the photo, the dis­trict said, and some Park­land High stu­dents and alumni tweeted their frus­tra­tion to The Onion about the photo be­ing used.

“You shouldn’t be post­ing pic­tures of schools that have noth­ing to do with a school shoot­ing,” one stu­dent tweeted at The Onion. “This is my school and this ar­ti­cle caused out­rage and many up­set teenagers. This is ridicu­lous.”

An­thony Naradko, Park­land’s di­rec­tor of safety and se­cu­rity, said in an email to fac­ulty and staff that some stu­dents were “dis­traught” to see their school de­picted in a story about school vi­o­lence.

The dis­trict pro­vided The Morn­ing Call with the email and said a sim­i­lar one was sent to high school stu­dents.

Park­land ad­min­is­tra­tors and South White­hall po­lice in­ter­viewed stu­dents to ad­dress their con­cerns and make sure no threats were cir­cu­lat­ing on­line, ac­cord­ing to Naradko’s email. South White­hall Po­lice Chief Glen Dor­ney did not im­me­di­ately re­turn a phone call.

“While we can’t con­trol the in­ter­net, this is a teach­able mo­ment for stu­dents,” Naradko said in the email. “The In­ter­net fre­quently con­tains in­for­ma­tion that is not ac­cu­rate or cred­i­ble.”

Nei­ther The Onion’s fic­ti­tious ar­ti­cle nor the photo cap­tion men­tion Park­land High School, but stu­dents and alumni rec­og­nized a sec­tion of the high school used in the photo.

“Why don’t you use a pic­ture of your own high school next time so you can scare YOUR clos­est friends and fam­ily in­stead of a bunch of strangers from east­ern PA, okay? Thanks,” a 2018 Park­land grad­u­ate tweeted.

“This is a photo of my ac­tual high school,” one Twit­ter user posted. “Not into this.”

Morn­ing Call re­porter Jacqueline Palochko can be reached at 610-820-6613 or at [email protected]

MORN­ING CALL FILE PHOTO

A mock ar­ti­cle in the satir­i­cal on­line news­pa­per The Onion about school shoot­ings fea­tured a photo of Park­land High School, prompt­ing South White­hall po­lice and dis­trict ad­min­is­tra­tors to con­sole “dis­traught” stu­dents up­set their school was used for a story de­pict­ing gun vi­o­lence.

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