Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Muscle Flexing by an Ass Media Professor

In this Carollian looking glass, bizarro world of 21st century radical liberalism run amok, it should come as no surprise that a college journalism professor attempted to stop a journalist from filming a news event on campus.

Melissa Click, an assistant professor at the Missouri School of Journalism, threatened a student journalist  who was filming a campus protest. “You need to get out, you need to get out,” Click yelled at the freelance reporter while trying to rip the camera from his hands. “I actually don’t,” the student journalist replied, displaying a greater understanding of the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of the press than the journalism professor paid to teach the concept to her students. Her response was classic, and fortunately caught on video. Rather than acting as a responsible faculty member and attempting to de-escalate a potentially volatile situation, as many emotionally-laden protests can be, Click instead threatened the photojournalism student with mob violence, calling out to the crowd, “Hey, who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here!”

As a 10th grader reading Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, I had some difficulty accepting the cognitive dissonance of Bradbury’s dystopian world where firemen were called to start fires rather than put them out. But it now seems more credible after witnessing a college journalism professor threatening violence to stop a student journalist from reporting on a campus news event. Melissa Click has shown by vivid example that she has no business being a journalism professor or even coming within 100 yards of a journalism school. She should be fired immediately and considered an anathema by any journalism college or news publication to whom she sends her resume.

Click’s unconscionable words and actions send precisely the wrong message to journalism students who should be encouraged to cover news stories no matter whom such coverage might offend. When I was a student journalist at the University of Florida, I encountered a situation similar to that of student journalist Tim Tai’s confrontation with Click, being verbally attacked by members of the journalism faculty for my investigative reporting. At that time, it was common practice for university professors to post students' grades on their office doors listing the grade on the same line as the student’s Social Security number. My article, published in The Gainesville Sun (then a New York Times Company newspaper), exposed and documented the practice was taking place on several colleges throughout the university, including my own journalism school… And, that the practice violated the Buckley Amendment, a 1974 federal law prohibiting public schools from disclosing students’ Social Security numbers and divulging the student’s grades to anyone besides the student.

One of my journalism professors was upset because I had named her in the article as one of the violators. The dean of the journalism school was livid and said so in a follow-up interview with the newspaper. The university was thrown into a state of chaos because violation of the Buckley Amendment meant the offending school could lose all of its federal funding. This was, in the words of Vice President Joe Biden, “a big fucking deal.” As a result, the 32,000-student University of Florida immediately changed its grade posting policy for all of its colleges, including the College of Journalism and Communications. Soon after, schools across the country followed suit.

Despite expressing their annoyance, anger, and upset, none of the journalism faculty ever attempted to interfere with my reporting. That’s because I was acting as they had trained me to act: as a professional journalist. I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t attend the Missouri School of Journalism.

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