College Newspaper Kowtows to Leftists, Apologizes for Practicing Journalism

Remember when journalism was going to save us all?
After all, shortly after Donald Trump was elected, The Washington Post reminded us how “Democracy Dies in Darkness”. (Democracy apparently remained hale and hearty in darkness under the Obama administration, but I digress.)
Time Magazine awarded its person of the year in 2018 to “The Guardians” — journalists from around the world who did nothing but bring us the unvarnished truth. Any criticism of the media by the White House was treated as if it were akin to criticism of a religious faith.
Unfortunately, the treatment of the media as a sacred institution is mostly a one-way street. (See: News, Fox.) However, you don’t need to employ Laura Ingraham to discover this. The journalists at the Northwestern University student newspaper discovered this when they sent a reporter to cover students protesting an appearance by former attorney general and soon-to-be Alabama senatorial candidate Jeff Sessions on Nov. 5.
This is, well, what journalists are supposed to do, especially at one of the nation’s most prestigious journalism schools. See if you can possibly imagine what the problem with this is. I’ll give you a few seconds.
Give up? This one was a toughie, I must admit. According to Fox News, activists found the presence of The Daily Northwestern at the protest to be “retraumatizing and invasive.”
In a sane world, this would have been summarily dismissed. “Retraumatizing” isn’t a word and if the protest was so traumatic, it’s worth noting attendance was beyond voluntary.
As for “invasive,” these were individuals engaging in a public action opposing the appearance of a political figure. This is what journalists are supposed to cover. In fact, this is why activists engage in public action in the first place — to get attention.
But this isn’t a sane world, so it wasn’t summarily dismissed. Instead, The Daily Northwestern issued a nine-paragraph apology.
“We recognize that we contributed to the harm students experienced, and we wanted to apologize for and address the mistakes that we made that night — along with how we plan to move forward,” the apology read.
“One area of our reporting that harmed many students was our photo coverage of the event. Some protesters found photos posted to reporters’ Twitter accounts retraumatizing and invasive. Those photos have since been taken down. On one hand, as the paper of record for Northwestern, we want to ensure students, administrators and alumni understand the gravity of the events that took place Tuesday night. However, we decided to prioritize the trust and safety of students who were photographed. We feel that covering traumatic events requires a different response than many other stories. While our goal is to document history and spread information, nothing is more important than ensuring that our fellow students feel safe — and in situations like this, that they are benefitting from our coverage rather than being actively harmed by it. We failed to do that last week, and we could not be more sorry.”
Yes, a Republican who served in the Trump administration — albeit with no small amount of consternation on the part of President Trump — is a “traumatic” event. I’m not sure whether or not The Daily Northwestern was trying to reinforce stereotypes about Generation Z, but if so, bravo on a well-executed performance.
There was an encore, too: “Ultimately, The Daily failed to consider our impact in our reporting surrounding Jeff Sessions. We know we hurt students that night, especially those who identify with marginalized groups. According to the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, ‘Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect.'”
Except they were covering a protest where, I can only assume, people “who identify with marginalized groups” were hurling invective at Jeff Sessions. And they “hurt [those] students” by covering the protest?

Also, reaching out to students for interviews was also considered problematic.
“Some students also voiced concern about the methods that Daily staffers used to reach out to them. Some of our staff members who were covering the event used Northwestern’s directory to obtain phone numbers for students beforehand and texted them to ask if they’d be willing to be interviewed. We recognize being contacted like this is an invasion of privacy, and we’ve spoken with those reporters — along with our entire staff — about the correct way to reach out to students for stories,” the apology read.
Remember that scene in “All the President’s Men” where Robert Redford was scouring through stacks of phone books to find a contact’s phone number? Not that there are the same stakes involved here, but student newspapers are supposed to be training for actual journalism work. Also, please explain to me how this is traumatizing. There are so many things in this whole farrago of liberalism that I can’t figure out, but this may be tops among them.
Thankfully, other journalists — scribes with some sense, this time — criticized The Daily Northwestern’s decision in strong terms.
“It is quite disturbing that a university with such a strong tradition in journalism education would have its student newspaper apologizing basically for covering a news event and contacting sources,” DePauw University media critic and professor Jeffrey McCall said.
“This would seem to demonstrate a larger concern at college campuses that community censorship can and does intimidate the student press.”
He added that it “demonstrates a basic misunderstanding of the function of news,” and capitulated to activists’ demands to “stifle the flow of information.”
“All colleges and universities today must take up the challenge of making sure their campuses can be places where information can flow, legitimate news can be covered, and free intellectual inquiry can happen,” McCall said.
“Indeed, our modern world has become a place where reality and truth are difficult to nail down. Disrupting the flow of news and having journalists apologizing for displaying reality surely will lead our culture further into information chaos.”
Charles Whittaker was another media academic critical of The Daily Northwestern’s decision to apologize over the paper’s coverage of the Sessions protest. He’s the head of the prestigious Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. Which, by the way, is at Northwestern University. So, ouch.
Whittaker said in a statement that “coverage by The Daily Northwestern of the protests stemming from the recent appearance on campus by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions was in no way beyond the bounds of fair, responsible journalism. The Daily Northwestern is an independent, student-run publication. As the dean of Medill, where many of these young journalists are trained, I am deeply troubled by the vicious bullying and badgering that the students responsible for that coverage have endured for the ‘sin’ of doing journalism.
“Like those student journalists, I, too, have been approached by several student activists who were angered by the fact that they and their peers were depicted on the various platforms of The Daily engaged in the very public act of protesting the Sessions speech,” he continued.
“I have explained to those activists that as Northwestern’s — and the city of Evanston’s — principal paper of record, The Daily had an obligation to capture the event, both for the benefit of its current audience as well as for posterity. I have also offered that it is na├»ve, not to mention wrong-headed, to declare, as many of our student activists have, that The Daily staff and other student journalists had somehow violated the personal space of the protestors by reporting on the proceedings, which were conducted in the open and were designed, ostensibly, to garner attention.”
Whittaker went on to say that “I understand why The Daily editors felt the need to issue their mea culpa. They were beat into submission by the vitriol and relentless public shaming they have been subjected to since the Sessions stories appeared. I think it is a testament to their sensitivity and sense of community responsibility that they convinced themselves that an apology would affect a measure of community healing.
“I might offer, however, that their well-intentioned gesture sends a chilling message about journalism and its role in society. It suggests that we are not independent authors of the community narrative, but are prone to bowing to the loudest and most influential voices in our orbit.”
That’s quite a browbeating. On one hand, you can’t deny that they deserved it. On the other hand, if they keep up the journalistic standards that led them to issue the apology in the first place, they have a fine future to look forward to at The Washington Post.
College Newspaper Kowtows to Leftists, Apologizes for Practicing Journalism College Newspaper Kowtows to Leftists, Apologizes for Practicing Journalism Reviewed by CUZZ BLUE on November 18, 2019 Rating: 5

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