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Political Editors / November 14, 2019

Student Journalists Cave to ‘Woke’ Mob

The Daily Northwestern apologizes for covering protesters at Jeff Sessions’s speech.

What do they teach is “journalism” these days? Well, if a recent apology from the chief editors at the student-run Daily Northwestern over the paper’s coverage of the protest of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s recent speech at Northwestern University is any indication, then the answer appears to be: not journalism.

Social-media criticism rained down on the Daily from leftist students following its coverage of Sessions’s speech — several protesters claimed the reporting “re-traumatized” them. Therefore, in a clear effort to appease the leftist mob, the paper’s editors released a groveling apology for daring to do what any good journalist would do: contact witnesses for statements, report what they saw, and seek to present a balanced perspective of the event. To be woke, one must support leftist activism over and against all other perspectives.

In their apology, the editors wrote in part, “We feel that covering traumatic events requires a different response than many other stories. While our goal is to document history and spread information, nothing is more important than ensuring that our fellow students feel safe — and in situations like this, that they are benefitting from our coverage rather than being actively harmed by it. We failed to do that last week, and we could not be more sorry.” Or to put it another way, feelings trump facts.

All was not lost, however, as the dean of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Charles Whitaker, stepped up to defend the Daily’s original reporting against the bullying leftist mob. Whitaker writes, “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. The Daily Northwestern is an independent, student-run publication. As the dean of Medill, where many of these young journalists are trained, 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.” He then points out the obvious: “[The Daily’s] well-intentioned [apology] 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.”

Worse, it conveys to young journalists that their job is not journalism but activism.

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