Sioux City Journal, the flagship broadsheet of Sioux City, Iowa, made the bold decision to dedicate the entirety of yesterday's page one to an anti-bullying editorial honoring the memory of an Iowa teenage who recently committed suicide shortly after coming out.
"We must make it clear in our actions and our words that bullying will not be tolerated," wrote the Journal's editorial board in its opinion piece. "Those of us in public life must be ever mindful of the words we choose, especially in the contentious political debates that have defined our modern times. More importantly, we must not be afraid to act."
14-year-old Kenneth Weishuhn Jr. died of a "self-inflicted injury" on April 15th after undergoing unrelenting harrasment from classmates at South O'Brien High School. Kenneth came out to his friends and family a month prior to his suicide, and his mother, Jeannie Chambers, said many of his peers "turned on him."
"I was just really mad because those guys were supposed to be my friends and they were making fun of my brother," Kenneth's 16-year-old sister Kayla told local reporters. "I tried to stick up for him a couple of times, but I guess it wasn't enough."
Journal editor Mitch Pugh told the Associate Press this was the first time the newspaper had devoted an entire front page to a single editorial.
"A lot of newspapers shy away from putting editorials on the front page, but we feel we have to be a strong advocate for our community," Pugh said. "And if we don't do that, we're not sure who else is."
The paper did not inform Kenneth's family of its decision prior to publication, feeling "[t]his was a bigger issue than one person."
[image via Romenesko]