Before this assignment was posted, I had already seen the video on the news of communications professor Melissa Click telling student journalists to get out during the protests at the University of Missouri. I was pretty surprised initially, because student journalists have the right to cover events. It was even more surprising that a professor was discouraging students from doing their jobs.
Yes, the First Amendment protects the freedom to assemble, but it also protects freedom of the press. Those student journalists had every right to be there, just as much as the protestors did. Personally, I felt it was unprofessional for Click to yell at student journalists and dismiss them completely. Along with that, she was encouraging the protesting students to create chants in hopes that those journalists would leave, which is also unprofessional to me. It’s good that she apologized, but I do believe the situation could have been handled better.
In spite of all of this, I applaud student photographer/journalist Tim Tai for how he handled the situation. Despite the amount of professors and students getting in his face about being there, he remained calmed and tried to explain his rights to be there, documenting history. If more aspiring journalists are like Tai, then I have no doubt that the future of journalism is in good hands.
In general, I believe this entire situation could have been handled better. However, we should move on from this and consider it a learning experience. People need to be more educated about First Amendment rights and respect the rights of journalists. I’m glad Click apologized for her actions, and it’s good to see so many people standing up and supporting these student journalists.