By A’LELIA BUNDLES
As a long time journalist, I was mightily concerned about the Mizzou demonstrators’ lack of understanding of First Amendment rights for reporters (and Prof Click’s behavior), but this Salon piece is a more nuanced look at the tension between the students and reporters.
It surely is a legitimate concern that “the media” had all but ignored the protests and issues until the football team got involved and that some of the previous coverage by MSM was hostile and indifferent.
Paula Young Lee writes: “Hardly anyone is talking about race–specifically, the nearly monolithic whiteness of the media descending on the protesters’ encampment. But you wouldn’t know that from watching that video.”
“…This “unbearable whiteness of liberal media” is precisely why the Black student protesters asked journalists to please “respect” them as well as their space by leaving them alone, at least long enough to collect their thoughts.” (Read the full article here.)
“Journalist Tracie Powell runs the website All Digitocracy.org, which works to support journalists of color while raising awareness of structural racism in the media. Powell is concerned about the treatment of Tai, the student photographer, but her gut instinct was that the refusal of the protesters to admit the press was, more accurately, their refusal to feed the biases of White journalism. “For me, the overwhelming impression was that they didn’t trust the White reporters suddenly trying to cover the story.” In conversation with me, she noted that these reporters had already shown themselves to be ranging from indifferent to outright hostile to the concerns outlined by Black students on campus, and “parachute journalism”–jumping in to a big story and then leaving–would give activists no reason to trust them. Her instincts are confirmed from various tweets from student protesters on campus, including one from #ConcernedStudent1950: “It’s typically white media who don’t understand the importance of respecting black spaces.”
The same thing happened when the national media decided to pay attention to the issues in Baltimore. It was a protest movement that was at least months in the making and ignored – then national media showed up on the scene and quickly the discussion became about ‘rioters’ and ‘people who destroy their own neighborhood‘ and not about the killing of a man in police custody and a history of abuse and fear in a community. It is easy to see where the distrust may stem from on a number of levels. This is perhaps also a moment of learning on how, when and where journalists are legally allowed to function. It is a maturation of a movement which will likely/hopefully make us all think about a host of issue these young people are bringing to the fore, and some they may also be navigating for the first time. One additional moment that ties in with this is when Hillary Clinton CHOSE to finally address and meet with Black Lives Matter activists – she chose to not allow them into her events and used security to prevent them from being in the forums, she then met with them in a space where Black Lives Matter activists asked to have no journalists present for the meeting so they could record the meeting themselves and release the material as they wanted to do.