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MUZZ 103:

Evading the Fourth Estate

Efforts to Limit Press Access on Campus

In one of 2015’s most unforgettable moments, Melissa Click, an assistant professor of mass media studies at the University of Missouri, was captured on video attempting to prevent press coverage of a public protest on campus. Click, who herself had put out calls on social media for national media coverage of the protests just two days earlier, was shown asking “Hey, who wants to help me get this reporter out of here?” and calling for “some muscle” to help remove a student photographer filming the incident. Click was fired in February 2016.

 

Activists at Smith College took similar steps to limit press coverage of demonstrations on their campus. Rather than banning media access outright, student-organizers said only those journalists who agreed in advance to explicitly support the movement in their articles would be permitted. Students claimed that the conditions were necessary to create a safe space free from potential insensitivity from the news media.

 

Similar incidents occurred at Emporia State University in Kansas, where officials temporarily ejected reporters from a public forum on race relations, and at Loyola, where student protesters invited—then blocked—press coverage of a public demonstration.

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