Sexual Harassment in the Newsroom

How an incident at Fox News can be a lesson in the classroom

Kira Newman, Photo Editor

NEW YORK CITY, N.Y-  Amidst sexual harassment allegations, a prominent Fox News host has bid his final farewell.

Bill O’Reilly He was dismissed this year due to allegations of sexual harassment in the newsroom. He delivered his last broadcast of The O’Reilly Factor on April 21, 2017. Aside from his 21 year stint as the host of his own show, he is an American author, podcast host, and journalist.

Bill O’Reilly commented to The New York Times that though he enjoyed Fox News, it was “tremendously disheartening that we (he and Fox News) part ways due to completely unfounded claims.”

This was not the network’s first encounter with sexual harassment allegations.

In July of 2016, Fox News’ chairman, Roger Ailes, was terminated due to a sexual harassment impropriety. Only weeks after Ailes departure, Bill O’Reilly’s name was dropped with allegations against him for sexual harassment in the Fox newsroom.

Juliet Huddy, a former Fox News television reporter, was one of the women to alledge that O’Reilly sexually harassed her specifically around the year 2011.

Huddy told the Woodside World, “I appreciate you reaching out and I promise if I’m ever able to speak publicly I will put you on my list. Things are a little complicated at the moment so I’m going to focus on my music coverage for now.”

The Woodside World will keep in touch with Huddy for any information.

The New York Times reported that “the consequences for breaking confidentiality are severe, costing either side $500,000 per infringement.”

Other women in the newsroom “remained fearful of reporting inappropriate behavior” or other sexual harassment allegations, The New York Times disclosed.

Despite the onslaught of allegations, “Mr. O’Reilly and Mr. Ailes have denied the allegations against them,” The New York Times reported.

Woodside High School staff and students, similar to Fox News and other organizations in general, have to follow a district-wide policy regarding sexual harassment.

According to Woodside’s Student Behavior Policy Handbook, the first account of sexual harassment between one student and another student can result up to a five day suspension. A second account can result in a “recommendation for expulsion,” according to the handbook.

At Woodside, the policy regarding sexual harassment for staff is more detailed than that of the students’. Additionally, the staff are actively notified about all policies before the start of each school year, whereas students are expected to read the handbook on their own time.

When new staff members are hired, they are notified of the sexual harassment policy. The training spans beyond in-school incidents. All staff are trained as mandated reporters to Child Protective Services to account for incidents of abuse happening at home.

The Fair Employment and Housing Act states that “an employer having 50 or more employees shall provide at least two hours of classroom or other effective interactive training and education regarding sexual harassment to all supervisory employees in California.”

Woodside administrators working to uphold these guidelines.

“Supervisors have to be trained with the certificate, [however] there’s no other training required for teachers, instruction aids, or custodians,” Woodside’s Principal, Diane Burbank explained.

Principal Burbank explained how the interactive training that she and other supervisors engage in is helpful unlike some other online training. The interactive components are useful and the videos cannot be fast forwarded. She explained that the questions are directly connected to the videos as well.

Woodside counselor and Student Services Coordinator, Sara Grace Vann, told the Woodside World about the levels of support for students who have experienced sexual harassment.

Vann said, “I usually think of support systems in three different levels or tiers. Tier one is the basic everybody.”

Every freshman at Woodside is impacted by the tier one level. This happens through the Freshman Transition program. The program demonstrates how to identify, act upon, or discourage any sort of harassment, bad behavior or bullying.

Beyond tier one, Vann suggested that “if someone is going beyond that, we have a therapeutic program and counseling. The perpetrator would go to the Kids Learning Empathy and Respect (KLEAR) program,” which is run by a Woodside teacher, Gwen Sidley.

With all of the Woodside resources in place, Woodside hopes to avoid the scandals that have plagued the Fox newsroom and keep the school a place where all students feel safe to learn.