Students at the University of Missouri have been in the media’s eye after members of the university’s football team joined in protests against the university’s apparent inadequate handling of certain racially-charged events, such as racial slurs being written outside of dorms and a racially-heated flier being distributed.
The involvement of the football players sparked the attention of the national media and eventually led to the resignation of the university’s president Tim Wolfe.
During one such protest, student journalists attempted to document events when protesters attempted to forcibly remove them.
Mark Schierbecker, a student journalist at the University of Missouri, recorded a video where protesters harassed a student photographer as they chanted, “Hey, hey. Go home. Reporters have got to go.”
Later in the video, Schierbecker attempts to speak to faculty member Melissa Click who, after refusing to speak to him, called on protesters to remove him from the site.
Without journalists and the media being able to document and report the goings-on of the world, no change could ever be made. Click later issued an apology to the student journalists involved in the incident.
These students’ reasons for protesting is not on trial here, as it is their constitutionally protected right to do so. However, this absurd act of childishness, to block journalists from doing their job, does nothing to help their cause.
In the video, one student can be seen yelling at the photographer, insisting that he has no right to be there.
What she, and apparently many of these protesters, do not understand is that the same right they have been given to protest has also been afforded to the press to document it.
Because of the lack of press coverage on the issues going on at the University of Missouri, students and other members of the public have resorted to following the story on social media. In doing so, they have been subject to inaccurate reporting and even false claims of the KKK appearing on the campus.
This only emphasizes the dire need for real press coverage of events such as these.
“Since the founding of this country, it is easy to see the tremendous role freedom of the press has played in the building of this republic,” said Elder Loren C. Dunn, an emeritus member of the First Quorum of the Seventy in a 1976 speech.
The First Amendment not only guarantees the right to worship and to assemble peaceably, but it also guarantees the freedom of the press.
The sad irony of these events at the University of Missouri is that, instead of embracing the media and allowing the problems of racism on that campus to be brought to light, they commit similar acts to those they are protesting.
These protestors demand to be included, yet they exclude those they should be trying to befriend. They demand to be treated equally, yet they discriminate against those with the ability bring their plight into the public eye.
Unfortunately, this sort of attitude toward the press is not exclusive to protestors on university campuses.
Early in Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, the press was often confined to a corner, ignored when attempting to ask Clinton questions and, on one occasion, was even barricaded by a rope line.
Presidential candidate Donald Trump has even gone so far as to specifically call out journalists and publications that dare to disrespect him.
“The Wall Street Journal loves to write badly about me,” Trump said in a tweet on Oct. 31. “They better be careful or I will unleash big time on them. Look forward to it!”
Today’s popular trend seems to be bashing news media, as evidenced by Donald Trump’s inexplicable lead among GOP candidates and furthered by Ted Cruz’s jump in popularity following his attack on a CNBC moderator during a recent GOP debate.
While certain criticisms of the news media made by these candidates and others are valid, it doesn’t change the fact that the press is a friend to the truth seeker.
Whether or not it is looking for success in a presidential campaign or bringing awareness to a cause, the press is there to report it.
Blocking them from doing their job does no good and allows opposition to gain coverage that those who are belligerent don’t get.
By allowing the press to do its job, true freedom can be realized.