Northwestern University Journalism Dean Charles Whitaker condemned activists for bullying student newspaper editors into apologizing for their coverage of a campus lecture featuring former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Breitbart News reported this week that the editors of the Northwestern student newspaper had published an apology for simply covering a campus lecture featuring former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“While our goal is to document history and spread information, nothing is more important than ensuring that our fellow students feel safe — and in situations like this, that they are benefitting from our coverage rather than being actively harmed by it,” the student editors wrote. “We failed to do that last week, and we could not be more sorry.”
On Tuesday, Charles Whitaker, the dean of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, and Integrated Marketing Communications, condemned student activists in a statement for “bullying” the newspaper into apologizing for “doing journalism.”
But let me be perfectly clear, the coverage by The Daily Northwestern of the protests stemming from the recent appearance on campus by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions was in no way beyond the bounds of fair, responsible journalism. The Daily Northwestern is an independent, student-run publication. As the dean of Medill, where many of these young journalists are trained, I am deeply troubled by the vicious bullying and badgering that the students responsible for that coverage have endured for the “sin” of doing journalism.
In the statement, which was highlighted this week by Campus Reform, Whitaker went on to defend the student editors’ decision to publish an apology. Still emphasizing the toxic behavior of the student activists that opposed the newspaper’s reporting, Whitaker wrote that they were “beat into submission” and subjected to “relentless public shaming” by and from their peers.
I understand why The Daily editors felt the need to issue their mea culpa. They were beat into submission by the vitriol and relentless public shaming they have been subjected to since the Sessions stories appeared. I think it is a testament to their sensitivity and sense of community responsibility that they convinced themselves that an apology would effect a measure of community healing.
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