A video surfaced last week displaying the aggressive exclusion of a student journalist from an ongoing protest. According to USA Today, students involved in the protest, as well as two university employees, actively denied students who were simply trying to do their job as journalists to record and report the series of events unfolding at the university.
According to New York Daily News, photographer and student Tim Tai who was freelancing for ESPN, attempted to photograph events surrounding the racially-charged protests organized by Concerned Student 1950 on the Missouri campus when students and university employees, including communications professor Melissa Click and director of Greek Life Janna Basler, blocked him from taking photos.
The video shows Tai trying to explain his rights granted by the First Amendment to do his job as a journalist; however he was met with a human chain blocking his way to the protest which was held in a public area, unable to do his job.
From viewing the video, it is clear that the student protesters, as well as university employees involved in the demonstrations wished to keep the media out of the protests in order to avoid media putting a spin on the facts of what they were doing. It appears members of Concerned Student 1950, felt that it was their responsibility alone to tell their story. The video shows signs held by participants reading, “Media: Please stay off the grass! Thank you.” While both the protesters and student journalists don’t appear to have bad intentions, the situation escalated as both parties felt their rights were being infringed upon. This is interesting because generally protestors want media attention in order to spread their story. Instead, it appears these students wished to spread their own message via social media.