“Student journalists have an inherent obligation in decision making to consider the heritage of their news medium, the values of the school community,…and best interests of readers/listeners/viewers.”
National Scholastic Press Association Model Code of Ethics
Journalism’s core is the constant scrutiny of ethical dilemmas. What is journalistic integrity? How, as a high schooler, can I be a good journalist? What are the boundaries of my reporting?
During the past few weeks, the Deerfield Scroll’s co-curricular has been “Zoom Calling” with some of the past Editor-in-Chiefs, including Joshua Fang ’19, Orlee Marini-Rapoport ’19, and Kevin Chen ’18. During these meetings, we have discussed the ups and downs of joining the Scroll, and all of their current successes at the Harvard Crimson. Of all their insights, to me the most inspiring were moments when their journalistic integrity was questioned.
One of these instances took place on Deerfield’s campus. Two years ago, Joshua Fang decided to publish an article that went into depth on a sexual harassment lawsuit connected to Deerfield. When I first read the article, I was surprised that the Scroll had published such a personal and Deerfield related article. But Josh explained how he analyzed every line of the lawsuit: contacting alumni, teachers, and many more members of the Deerfield Community. The article took months to write, and after two cancellations, was heading to print. This was much to the dismay of Co Editor-in-Chief Orlee Marini-Rapoport. Orlee looked at the article and felt that the Scroll should avoid creating situations that could hurt students’ feelings and faculties’ reputations. Not only this, but referencing situations that teachers and students were a part of to the entire school may be triggering for said members of our community.
During their time at the Harvard Crimson, all three editors were involved in a situation where an ICE protest was held on Harvard’s campus. The Crimson made the controversial decision to ask ICE for a response. Kevin pointed out the importance of journalistic integrity, how students should not be the moral decision makers on who should be given the opportunity to comment. While Orlee expressed concern about how although the protest leaders were Harvard students, they were undocumented, and this raised the concern that contactcing ICE could have put them at risk.
In both of these instances, censorship came from fellow peers but what about when that censorship comes from the people we need to appease the most? The people we must have a working relationship with, the administration.
The Deerfield administration’s censorship may be important to teach us the boundaries of journalism; however, in a non-traditional sense, we are learning a lot about becoming a successful journalist. Rather than exploring any and every event, writers learn how to fight for a story. How to maneuver a parenting administration and find ways to get quotes. It isn’t easy, and although Deerfield helps us establish these journalistic boundaries, Scroll writers also learn to be persistent. We are in a limbo of determining what is ethical and what crosses a boundary.
I started this letter with a quote from the National Press Association’s Model Code of Ethics. During our cocurricular, we have focused on analyzing their 7 key ethics points: be responsible, be fair, be honest, be accurate, be independent, minimize harm, and be accountable. Over the next year, you will see our writers question these boundaries and find new ways to report, but at the heart of all of our decisions will be the impacts on you, our student body. The people we are here to serve.
If you are interested in holding others accountable and experimenting with the boundaries of ethical development, join the Scroll. If you are not, experiment with us. Help us establish these boundaries. Hold us accountable when we cross these boundaries. Isn’t that what Deerfield is all about? Preparing us for “a rapidly changing world”?
Work hard, be kind, get smart,