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Editorial

Protesters should cooperate with journalists for their own benefit

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November 12, 2015

If you follow the news to any degree, you’ve likely heard of Tim Tai, a student journalist who recently had a confrontation with a large group of protesters at the University of Missouri. The protests, lasting several months by now, stem from what was felt was an inadequate response to several cases of racist activities around campus. A swastika made of feces and a few reports of others freely calling black students — specifically Student Body President Payton Head — the “N-word” were major catalysts in the growth of the protest.

The confrontation took place when Tai was attempting to photograph protesters and the tents they had set up in the university. A crowd grew to attempt to block Tai and others, including the person filming the confrontation, attempting to push him back physically (saying “we’re just walking forward”).

The reasoning that has been voiced about why the protestors acted so harshly toward the journalist was that they thought that he would put a negative slant on what the protestors were doing. This stereotype when it comes to journalists and media, that they are biased and misrepresent situations for ratings, is an unfair way to look at people who have dedicated their lives to seeking and reporting the truth. Yes, one can look at a news organization like FOX News and see a clear bias, but is that really how we should judge all news organizations and journalists?

It’s a shame to see protestors and activities turn away from journalists, because the truth is that activists need journalists in order to further get the word out about whatever problems they are fighting against. Without journalism and reporters, the public would not know about many of the movements that are going on in the world that they do, and therefore would not be able to stand behind those movements and allow them to flourish. Another thing that can come from cooperation with journalists is that they will be able to further understand and report the truth. If the truth cannot be found without cooperation, or if one side of the story isn’t willing to speak about their perspectives and how they see a situation, how is a journalist supposed to report a completely accurate story?

As a group that includes many student journalists, it’s upsetting to see people turn away from their fellow students. Your average journalists aren’t looking to harm others through bias and to slant stories to gain more publicity. Although there are exceptions to this, the majority of journalists just want to report on the story as transparently as they can, so why the resistance?