Accetable Journalism Practice or Not?

Recently Supreme Court Justice, Anthony M. Kennedy visited Dalton, a private highschool in Manhattan to make a speech at an assembly. He requested that the schools newspaper the Daltonian not publish any articles about the visit until they were approved by his office. His office claims it was to make sure quotations were accurate. Frank D. Lamonte, the executive director of the Student Law Press Center, thinks the request shouldn’t have been made. The controversy of the request found its way into an article in the New York Times titled  “From Justice Kennedy, a Lesson in Journalism.” Both the writers for the Daltonian and Supreme Court Justine Kennedy refused to give an interview to the New York Times.

I am confused for a number of reasons. First off, by requiring the paper to allow his office to approve articles about him Kennedy is violating the first ammendment and he’s a Supreme Court Justice, so thats kind of…weird. Second, his office did it likely to control how he’s portrayed in the public eye, but  now as a result there is a New York Times article about the controversy, which likely will do more damage to his image than an article in a highschool newspaper could have done. As well, refusing to give an interview to the Times doesn’t help his image either.

It seems to me like the school is partially to blame here as well. They should have said no this is not an acceptable request, by not doing so they are teaching a poor lesson in journalism to their students. I can perhaps understand that they might give in to demanding requests for worry that if they didn’t the Justice might not come and that would be a loss for the school. I can see that logic, but still, this  could have been a great opportunity for the writers at their newspaper. A national figure is coming and he’s worried about accuracy, so lets ensure accuracy here. Get out the voice recorders and have loads of people copy edit. Letting people read stories about them before publication almost never happens in the real world of journalism, why should it happen for journalism students? Shouldn’t they be prepared for the real world? Maybe they are less professional, but that is what faculty advisors are for.

I know that being in the world of politics and constantly being scrutinized by the public must be hard to deal with. I personally am not that well educated when it comes to politics. I had no idea who Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy was before I came across this article, but I do now and I haven’t come across him in the most positive light. If I was part of his office I’d rethink its press strategies.

About davidmehr

I'm a Journalism student at the University of Oregon. I'm also a rock climbing instructor and a soccer referee.
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