Just a Student?

Charles Davis mentioned during his presentation on media law that the university has, in the past, attempted to block students’ work from being published. When I heard this, my first thought was, “Why is the university that houses the world’s first school of journalism infringing on the First Amendment rights of its own students?” My second thought was, “I don’t think I’ll be covering anything that controversial while at MU.”

When I go out to do journalism assignments and interview residents of Columbia, I do my best to not step on any toes. People who agree to interviews are gaining nothing; they are just helping me gain experience and complete my projects and articles. I don’t work for a news organization. I don’t have a press pass. To my interview subjects, I am just a random college student prying into their lives.

Although I have the right to publish anything I want, it is not necessarily ethical to publish anything I want. I feel that my status as a student does not allow me to ask tough questions and dig into matters that may be controversial.

However, I also have a problem with this complacency. I fear that I won’t learn about journalism properly if I don’t do it properly during my four years at MU. I don’t want to get too comfortable, because I know it’s unlikely that I will spend my career as a journalist doing glowing profiles on the leaders of non-profits. So here’s my dilemma: as a student of journalism, how far should/can I go in interviews?

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