Analysis: At the University of Missouri, an Unlearned Free Speech Lesson
This is the behavior you get when a small cadre of people try to co-opt and direct an otherwise good cause to their goals instead of the group’s. If your cause is good you should not fear the press. On the other hand if you are trying to spin and control the message you are subverting the purpose of the demonstrations.
Yet an administrator repeatedly tried to block a student journalist, Tim Tai, from taking pictures on assignment for ESPN. “You need to back off,” she told him, flanked by student protesters. “You are infringing on their right to be alone.” She helped lead a group of students who essentially steamrolled Tai away, even as he calmly asserted his First Amendment rights to be there.
That administrator, Janna Basler, is the university’s assistant director of Greek life and leadership in the student life division.
A faculty member, later caught on that same video, repeatedly sought to banish a videographer who lingered behind a wall of students and finally called out for backup. “Hey, who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here!”
That faculty member, Melissa Click, is a junior professor in mass media studies. She studies television and pop culture and presumably along the way acquired some understanding of the press. (Technically, her appointment is in the Department of Communications, which is part of the College of Arts and Sciences, not the journalism school.) Maybe she understood all too well that reporters can capture flaws as well as strengths, can force people off message, can err or distort in their coverage.