Public trust in media a more pertinent issue than press’s First Amendment rights


Mark Schierbecker via AP

In this Nov. 9 frame from video, Janna Basler, right, who works in the University of Missouri’s office of Greek life, tells photographer Tim Tai, to “leave these students alone” in their “personal space,” in Columbia, Mo. Protesters credited with helping oust the University of Missouri System’s president and the head of its flagship campus welcomed reporters to cover their demonstrations Tuesday, a day after a videotaped clash between some protesters and a student photographer drew media condemnation as an affront to the free press.

The events at Mizzou involving the resignation of university president Tim Wolfe, Concerned Student 1950 assembly and the student journalist Tim Tai demonstrate a concern that goes beyond just institutional racism.

While Tai and other journalists’ presence is protected by the First Amendment just as much as the students’ right of assembly, the fact that a media presence was unwelcome is telling of the condition the way news is presented.

How can the black community possibly trust the media to tell their stories when the majority of the coverage of events that led to Black Lives Matter focused on rioting rather than the peaceful protesting, or, more importantly, the larger issue at hand, which is the racist trend in police brutality on the national level?

Furthermore, how can the black community, or any minority community whether it is transgender people, Hispanics, women or anyone else, trust news outlets to convey its perspective when the majority of humans in executive positions are white, privileged males?

The duty of the press is to empower the public with information. When anything is misrepresented in any capacity, the press fails to fulfill its purpose and thus fails the public. But how can the press fulfill that responsibility when it isn’t employing minority persons in executive positions?

Major news media that have failed the public have tainted the name and integrity of the press for every media outlet. This is mainly due to the dominant presence of the white privileged male perspective among media outlets.

Truly balanced reporting will not be achieved until the demographic of media workers in higher positions is just as diverse as the United States’ population. More people of color and of all non-male genders should strive to be editors, producers and senior reporters to offset the existing dominant perspective.

However, this is easier said than done. First, we have to acknowledge the role that racism and sexism has played in creating today’s environment and shaping the systems around us.

We at The Parthenon value a truthful, ethical standard of reporting as well as maintaining a relationship of trust with our readers.

If there is any sort of issue on campus, we want to tell the story of the people involved and strive for a level of fairness and accuracy that surpasses that of many larger media outlets that have caused the industry to lose trust in newsgatherers.

This is the student newspaper. Its purpose is to serve the student body as a voice, representative of all students.