FHS Frontline logo. Photo by Mia Bray.

The purpose of investigative journalism is to seek, uncover, and expose discriminatory and broken systems. Investigative journalism has risen to prominence in mainstream media—stories like Watergate and Spotlight’s Church Abuse Report come to mind—and with that, a demand for a greater level of transparency has descended upon America. On a more local scale, investigative journalism can bring clarity to issues in specific communities, such as schools. This is what FHS Frontline aims to do, not to negatively expose or place blame on individuals, but to hold systems and groups accountable on issues of race and gender within Franklin High School and Portland Public Schools.

This is not to discount other instances of oppression which are present, but to limit our scope in order to increase the impact our stories will have. By directing attention to specific—though granted, more limited—issues, we can thoroughly address these problems, create a greater level of transparency, and advocate for definitive change. We will accomplish these tasks through a year-long series that will draw from student, staff, and administrative perspectives.

We aim to uncover stories that have been buried by a system that was founded on apathy and intentional ignorance. Most students have a story. Most staff have a story. Our goal is to amplify those voices, to provide a platform through which their stories can be told, and to analyze and understand the overlying systemic problems that permit such stories to happen. Despite any personal beliefs we may have on these matters, our work will not be influenced by opinion; although we are passionate about these issues, journalistic integrity will not be sacrificed. We can guarantee the accuracy and unbiased nature of our work so that it may be accessible to all. Through public records requests, anonymous interviews/submissions, and policy-based research, we will bring light to instances of discrimination on the basis of race and gender that may be individually recognized but are societally concealed.

But we cannot do this alone; our personal experiences with these issues only reach so far. Time and time again—through history textbooks, literature, and all forms of media—we’ve seen that a single narrative cannot accurately capture the depth and diversity of multiple viewpoints and experiences. We are no longer in the era of interpreting and retelling stories of oppression from the perspective of those with privilege. Inherent acceptance of the overlying societal narrative perpetuates the harmful suppression of minorital narratives. FHS Frontline’s goal is to become a team of students and staff that works towards creating accountability at Franklin and in PPS, and setting a precedent for a system in which all narratives are heard. We want to hear yours. Our responsibility to those that want to share is simply to elevate their voice through writing. This is not just our project, it is our community’s project. If it is seen through a collaborative lens, the overarching intention becomes clear. Our school and our district are in dire need of clarity and a point of reckoning. Incidents of discrimination targeting students and staff are not isolated instances; they are a part of a much broader problem. Although these issues are global, our ability to break them down is local and we will do this in order to enact change.