An U.S. Supreme Court Justice – with Great Acquiescence from a Manhattan High School Administration – Impales Integrity of Manhattan Student Newspaper

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, according to a New York Times story, spoke at the Dalton private school in Manhattan in late October, and either a member of his staff acting independently or the Justice himself requested that the Daltonian, the school newspaper, allow Kennedy to review its planned story about his visit before it is published.

The top school administrator ignored or didn’t recognize the heresy involving ethical principles. “This allows student publications to be correct,” said Ellen Stein, Dalton’s head of school, defending the practice in a telephone interview with the Times. “I think fact checking is a good thing.”

The newspaper’s faculty advisor had slickly acquiesced as well. “The high school administration communicated a lengthy list of ‘dos’ and ‘do nots’ for Justice Kennedy’s visit,” faculty advisor Kevin Slick said in an e-mail message, according to the Times. The Daltonian “believed we could not publish anything without the approval of Justice Kennedy” or his office, Slick said, adding that “the series of constraints placed on his visit and subsequent interaction did not diminish the experience at all.”

That’s good that the experience – whatever that meant – possibly wasn’t diminished but important journalism principles were certainly skewered. A hell of a lesson for high school journalists. The incident is not that unusual, however. What is unusual is that it made it to the NYT, probably because it didn’t involve a Podunk H.S. or a Bumfuck H.S. but a Dalton Highbrow and, of course, a Supreme Court justice.

Full New York Times story.

P.S. When was the last time a Supreme Court justice came to New York to speak to a high school in Harlem or the South Bronx or an audience of students whose parents were working class? When was the last time a Justice spoke to a CUNY college? CUNY being the largest urban institution of its kind in the United States.

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