This was an unusual column. My first inclination, Wednesday morning, was to open up with both barrels on The Daily Northwestern. That went online. Then Medill Dean Charles Whitaker issued a powerful defense of the student newspaper, which is separate from the university, outlining the enormous badgering and pressure the staff faced from their classmates for covering the story. That put the situation in a new context, and I clawed the column back and wrote a more nuanced, if less funny, 2.0 version. Nothing to be ashamed of there. I wrote the first column on deadline with the information I had at hand. When that information changed, I revised my assessment of the situation. A policy I heartily recommend to any and all.
WARNING! THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS GRAPHIC EXPRESSIONS OF RIDICULE, PLUS IMAGES OF NAKED DISGUST REGARDING BELOVED UNDERGRADUATE PIETIES, AND SO MIGHT NOT BE APPROPRIATE FOR MORALLY CERTAIN YET EMOTIONALLY FRAGILE INHABITANTS OF WILDLY OVERPRICED UNIVERSITIES WITH HABITUALLY DEFEATED FOOTBALL TEAMS.
Hi? How ya been? Thriving, I know. That new music center? Fan-tastic.
I’m good, thank you for asking. Old now. But hanging on. Still cranking out a column, just like I did for The Daily Northwestern in the early ’80s.
Sorry I haven’t written in, gee, 37 years. But I’ve been busy, working, in the real world. At a newspaper. Which isn’t easy. Readers don’t always like what I write. Barack Obama once called and yelled at me. Trump fans fill the spam filter with brutalities. Last week my son’s old kindergarten teacher wrote a nasty letter. You need a hard shell, and to focus on your goal: telling a good story.
You know what was a good story? Former Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions coming to Northwestern’s Evanston campus Nov. 5 to speak, or try to. It was difficult, with protesters pounding on doors and breaking windows, tussling with campus cops. More evidence the Left can have the same authoritarian tendencies as the Right.
The Daily covered the event, which is what newspapers do. They cover events.
Protesters caught in the act didn’t like the idea of being documented. They might get in trouble, so harried The Daily staff until it clawed back their names. Unsatisfied, they pushed for a jaw-dropping apology that instantly became notorious for its crushed capitulation.
The Daily admits covering the protests, then concedes: “We recognize that we contributed to the harm students experienced.”
What harm? The harm of having your public misbehavior reported? That’s called living in a democracy.
“Some protesters found photos posted to reporters’ Twitter accounts retraumatizing and invasive,” the mea culpa continues. “Those photos have since been taken down. On one hand, as the paper of record for Northwestern, we want to ensure students, administrators and alumni understand the gravity of the events that took place Tuesday night. However, we decided to prioritize the trust and safety of students who were photographed.”
Isn’t that what Counseling and Psychological Services is for?
“Some of our staff members who were covering the event used Northwestern’s directory to obtain phone numbers for students beforehand and texted them to ask if they’d be willing to be interviewed. We recognize being contacted like this is an invasion of privacy.”
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