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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Opinion

Staff editorial: Freedom of the press matters


Lately it feels like free speech has started to become less like a right and more like something people just take for granted.

The Cougar does not support those who ostracize journalists, student or professional, from doing their job.

It all comes down to the First Amendment.

It guarantees the right of individuals as well as the press to express themselves and speak openly. This doesn’t mean the media can simply say whatever they want to. This means they have the right to tell the truth to the best of their ability.

The problem lies when journalists are trying to get as much information as possible about certain events and they end up not being able to do so.

Recently, a video went viral showing a University of Missouri student journalist simply trying to take photos of the protests that occurred on their campus. The protesters were screaming at him, telling him to back away and even chanting “hey hey, ho ho, reporters got to go.”

The protests were there to show solidarity in their disapproval of the university’s president, who resigned this week, and the school’s lack of action to quell racial tensions on campus.

One of the biggest reasons that Tim Wolfe resigned as the president of the University of Missouri was because of the large press coverage of the student’s protests.

We understand that sometimes the media can get facts wrong — even we have had the misfortune of publishing inaccurate stories.

But when journalists are barred from doing their jobs, how are they supposed to get all the facts right?

If you want the media to not muddle facts, then present the facts to them. Don’t scream at them and wave your hands in front of the camera to obstruct the process. When journalists get facts wrong, it’s on them.

We get penalized when things go badly, and we take fact errors seriously.

We are looking at this from a journalistic perspective, and preventing other journalists from trying to tell the real story is not okay.

This isn’t just about the First Amendment. This is about journalism. Let journalists do their job.

— The Cougar Editorial Board

CORRECTION: The sixth paragraph incorrectly named the University of Missouri as Missouri University.

The Staff Editorial reflects the opinions of The Cougar Editorial Board. All other opinions, commentaries and cartoons reflect only the opinion of the author. Opinions expressed in The Cougar do not necessarily reflect those of the University of Houston or the students as a whole.

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