Welcome to Laurie Goodman's blog. I use this space to share news and opinions about education and schools in Ridgewood, the state of New Jersey and the nation, in addition to other issues I'm personally interested in. I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or opinions, too, by posting comments on any blog entry. Please observe basic courtesy -- keep your comments focused on issues, no personal attacks or bullying, please. Contact me directly at: lauriegood@mac.com

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Free speech lesson for high school journalists.

And now a short diversion to a non-referendum, yet important, topic:

The New York Times reports that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy recently insisted that a high school newspaper get his approval before publishing any article about a talk the justice gave to an assembly of the school students.

This is quite a lesson in how not to operate a free objective press. And I find it troubling that both the school's headmistress (it was the fancy Dalton school in NYC) and the justice's representative so casually defended the action, saying things like, we just thought it would be good for the students to check their facts.

I agree wholeheartedly with the rep from the Student Press Law Center, who said this was more about image control than teaching journalism. Where are the journalists anymore? I worry that the valuable role of "the fourth estate" has been diluted and distorted and, frankly, abused by those who believe that anyone with an internet connection is a journalist. Yes, I do see the irony of my writing that statement in my blog, but I understand the role of my blog. And anyway, I have a journalism degree, the study for which included journalism ethics, news reporting and investigative journalism. I know my professors and mentors in the business would be dismayed by Justice Kennedy's action. In the meantime, all I can do is remind people, especially young people, that the press -- including the high school press -- does not exist to serve anyone but the public, and no true journalist should ever allow the subject of a story to dictate its content. Mr. Kennedy, normally a defender of first amendment rights, knows better.

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