Because I’ve been in the newspaper racket for decades, folks will assume that I’m on the side of the Stevenson High School students who are fighting with the administration over what they can publish in the school newspaper.
How can I say this with the obligatory amount of sensitivity so I don’t hurt anyone’s feelings? The newspaper doesn’t belong to the students; the school is the publisher. The school pays for the printing and the instruction. The school decides what goes on in the classrooms. A publisher gets to decide what goes into his paper and what doesn’t. Editors (employees) who refuse to follow policy can be disciplined and fired.
That’s the reality of it. If the journalism teachers at Stevenson are teaching their students anything different, then they are, to be kind, mistaken. At worst they are ignorant and deceptive.
This is the administration’s right and duty, but did it make the right decision about the stories involved? I haven’t seen the stories, so I withhold judgment about their journalistic value. But here is my impression from what I’ve read. Using anonymous sources, the stories reportedly disclose behavior by National Honor Society members that does not conform to its standards. Frankly, it sounds like one of those gotcha stories (“see those suck-ups in the honor society aren’t any better than the rest of us.”) Whether or not it is true, I find that the use of anonymous sources to disparage fellow students is unprofessional. In this, the students are following a practice that is becoming increasingly common and regrettable among professionals.