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California

Teen Has No Regrets on Insult Web Site

Creator of shut Internet rumor mill says his original intent was to expose scandals in public education. But he defends nasty postings.

April 26, 2003|Erika Hayasaki and Cara Mia DiMassa | Times Staff Writers

Soon after an article appeared in The Times earlier this month about the controversial Web site, radio hosts of the "John and Ken Show" on KFI-AM (640) launched a campaign to shut down schoolscandals .com.

Skyler Tennen went on the show and identified himself as the Web site's administrator (and Ken Tennen's son).

The radio duo identified him as a student at Cleveland High. Later, they posted his parents' work phone numbers and e-mail addresses on the radio show's Web site. For several days running, they also encouraged listeners to "communicate their feelings about the Web site."

Radio co-host Ken Chiampou said that Skyler and Ken Tennen "were cavalier, even dismissive" when they spoke on the show and that they angered listeners.

His partner, John Kobylt, said he was delighted that the site was out of service. "We definitely wanted to shut them down, and it was done peacefully; it was done through public pressure," he said Friday.

Asked about whether that campaign forced him off the Internet, Skyler Tennen said: "I don't want them to think that the site was taken down blatantly because of threats, but in the short answer, I guess, yeah, it was."

His father described the radio duo's show as "the news equivalent of professional wrestling."

"They have no regard for the truth or for people's personal lives," he added.

During his interview Friday, Skyler Tennen insisted that the Web address was not intended to invite gossip. "It's not student scandals, it's school scandals," he said. "It was designed about teachers' classes, unfair decisions within the school."

He said that he had struggled to find a way to keep out the most controversial content, even though it was protected as free speech and did not expose the owners or operators of the Web site to legal risk.

"I understood the problems with the site and I wanted to come up with an alternative solution," he said, but added that as a nonprofit enterprise he had difficulty finding moderators.

Some students said they believed that Tennen had good intentions, despite the Web site's problems.

"He did get unfairly targeted," said Cleveland High senior Marissa Greenberg, who is associate editor of the campus newspaper.

"That is something bad that happened that he shouldn't be faulted for," she said. "But he didn't write those things. He sponsored a forum for them. People posted rumors on the site, and I didn't agree with the site, but it was legal."

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Times staff writer Megan Garvey contributed to this report.

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