The student newspaper at Northwestern University, home to the Medill School of Journalism, one of the nation’s most prestigious, apologized to its readers for committing journalism.
The Daily Northwestern accurately reported that former Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressed the campus chapter of the College Republicans last week while student protesters loudly demonstrated outside.
“The Daily sent a reporter to cover that talk and another to cover the students protesting his invitation to campus, along with a photographer,” The Daily Northwestern reported. Apparently the coverage triggered student unrest at the university.
The editors later apologized for:
- Publishing “re-traumatizing and invasive” photos of the event;
- Accurately reporting on the protesters and Sessions’ speech; and,
- Using the school directory to reach out to students to conduct interviews.
Nobody complained that the photographs had been altered in any way or that the coverage was false. There was no claim that any of the students that were contacted objected to being interviewed or that they were misquoted.
Nonetheless, the paper’s editorial staff groveled to those readers who were triggered by their fair and accurate coverage, stating, “Last week, The Daily was not the paper that Northwestern students deserve.”
The only way a publication can earn its readers’ trust is to be fair, accurate, and honest — sometimes brutally so. Nevertheless, the editors believed they’d lost their readers trust by its honest and accurate reporting.
“We hope we can rebuild trust that we weakened or lost last week,” the apology stated. “We understand that this will not be easy, but we are ready to undertake the reform and reflection necessary to become a better paper.”
Thankfully, the adults on campus disagreed, and the journalism school’s stellar reputation was saved.
Medill School of Journalism Dean Charles Whitaker released a blistering reply to the apology Tuesday that took everyone to task — the student body that felt so mistreated, and the paper’s weak-kneed editors.
“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,” his statement said.
“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,” Whitaker remarked.
“And, unlike our young charges at The Daily, who in a heartfelt, though not well-considered editorial, apologized for their work on the Sessions story, I absolutely will not apologize for encouraging our students to take on the much-needed and very difficult task of reporting on our life and times at Northwestern and beyond.”
Whitaker said that although the apology may have been well-intentioned, it nonetheless “sends a chilling message about journalism and its role in society. It suggests that we are not independent authors of the community narrative, but are prone to bowing to the loudest and most influential voices in our orbit.”
The cancer of “bowing to the loudest and most influential voices in our orbit” isn’t limited to student newspapers. It has invaded some of America’s largest and formerly most trusted news organizations.
It infected NBC News when stories depicting the serial sexual attacks by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein were buried, possibly because the network’s president, Noah Oppenheim, reportedly had a history of submitting screenplays to Weinstein.
It also invaded ABC News when network executives buried a story of major Democratic donor Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking of underage girls, apparently because the story placed too many people in high places at risk — including former President Bill Clinton and the U.K.’s Prince Andrew.
When a “hot mic” rant of ABC anchor Amy Robach describing the shelved story surfaced last week, rather than issue its own mea culpa — especially to later Epstein victims — the network went on a mission to search out and destroy the person who leaked the video.
They would rather punish the whistleblower than report the truth.
Returning to the Northwestern story, Sessions had an absolute right to speak and be heard on campus, just as the student journalists at The Daily Northwestern had a right, a duty, and an obligation, to report what they saw, heard and were told.
In the eyes of the left, the First Amendment freedoms of speech and of the press — the bulwark that protects a free society — have now become society’s threat.
If we lose our First Amendment freedoms, we will have lost the voices needed to defend all our other freedoms.
Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to BizPac Review and Liberty Unyielding. He is also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter, who can often be found honing his skills at the range. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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