Column: Media under attack, even at MSU
A newsroom full of young journalists fell faint at around 2:30 a.m. on Nov. 9 and for possibly the first time in their careers, words could not explain the means.
I received a call, one as an editor you hope you never have to hear. My reporter called me with distress in her voice and simply said she was afraid.
Fear is something a lot of people don’t understand about the journalism industry. It’s like an old friend greeting you throughout the day. You never find comfort.
To say I have slept in the past few weeks would be a lie. It’s a terrible realization for an editor when you discover that you can prepare your reporters for battle in every way, but once they walk out of the newsroom you can no longer protect them.
The protection my reporter needed was from several attendants at the MSU College Republicans watch party, who had decided to paint a target on her back. Some were even intoxicated.
Throughout the time my reporter covered the watch party, she was harassed verbally, videotaped to taunt, mocked for her career, told she wouldn't be given an interview unless she bought someone a drink and eventually assaulted by a man double her size.
I am 20 years old, I am not a mother nor a protector of many, but I cannot convey enough the terror that went through my mind when my reporter told me a man grabbed her against her will.
As a journalist, we do our best and we hope some people are reached, however many do not respect our role in the United States, in fact many vilify it.
The State News is a professional newspaper run by students. We experience a lot of what journalists in the field see, but without the benefit of the doubt given to those older than us. The current climate shows that our job is not respected to the extent one would hope.
“Let’s see how the liberal media spins this one,” the man who intimidated my reporter said as he walked out of Harper's Restaurant and Brewpub.
After assaulting my reporter, participating in her harassment and refusing to discuss the event or the election — period, this man walked out of the watch party and still believed that the behavior and actions of the group could be “spun” into a web of lies.
The State News reporters and editors have tried our best to cover both parties and all other types of stories with a full scope in order to prevent an obvious bias and give every party an equal playing field.
So let’s break this down, I sent my reporter to the watch party with the intention of getting reactions from students who support the Republican party and nominee, which became very important because of Donald Trump’s eventual win. She is treated terribly, made the butt of your jokes all the while you refuse to speak with her for her story, yet you conclude we don't give you equal time.
You tried your best to prevent the coverage from happening, but it still did. We reported on the happenings despite these actions and what happened on election night. Doesn't that sound a bit off, despite your best effort to deter us, we still did our jobs.
I refuse to hear from people or groups who vilify our newsroom for “skewed” or “biased” coverage when the best those groups have to show are a bunch of drunks making fools of themselves.
Fair coverage is a right. But, so is fair treatment and respect. Respect is earned and lost by the choices of both parties — your move.
Our newsroom will no longer tolerate behavior, which insults our role, harasses our reporters or decides what is the “acceptable” way to treat a reporter covering your event, who by the way is a human being.
We deal with facts, so here are some facts. Fact: My reporter attended this watch party to do her job and remained at the party, despite her harassment, to get the story. Fact: A grown man had the nerve to lay a hand on her for no reason except with the intention to intimidate her from doing her job. Fact: My reporter looked me in the eyes and said this man scares her immensely.
I have painted a picture for you as to why this country could be in trouble in terms of media coverage.
The president of MSU College Republicans said he would recommend the individuals apologize and the reporter still has yet to receive an apology from anyone except him. I don't know how it's expected that I have peace of mind when I send my reporters to an event like this ever again.
I denounce the actions and treatment of my reporter. We will not live in fear because of a warped view of what we do and why we do it. We will remain vigilant and despite the best effort of some characters, press on.
I mean we still have to send our paper to print on Sunday.
Rachel Fradette is the campus editor for The State News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.