The Journalism and Media Studies Department in the Diederich College is home to hundreds of journalism students and alumni and we acknowledge and condemn the violence that journalists, including our own, have faced as they try to do their jobs. We stand in solidarity with journalists and communities as they bear witness to protests over persistent police brutality in America.
These communities must be allowed to exercise their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, peaceable assembly and petitioning the government for the redress of grievances. We endorse the Diederich College of Communication statement that speaks to our commitments to these communities.
Admittedly, journalists and their safety is not the primary story, but when their ability to document longstanding institutional injustice is unduly compromised by powerful forces, everyone’s freedom takes a hit.
In this extraordinary moment, the Journalism and Media Studies Department wants to emphasize our continuing commitment to teaching young journalists the importance of a humane, evidence-based, and safety-conscious brand of journalism.
Journalism that considers the impact of reporting on its subjects, that pledges to follow the facts wherever they lead, and is mindful of the need to prepare for potential harm to its practitioners. Journalism that understands history before trying to explain the present and predict the future.
Recent widespread bodily harm against journalists covering the reaction to oppression underscores the importance of the Safety Curriculum developed by our department with the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation. That curriculum, in place at the Diederich College of Communication and spreading to use at schools elsewhere, can be viewed here. (Module 4 advises students on covering civil unrest, and a newly added module deals with safety in the Covid—19 era).
We can do more. Our department and our students have fallen short inbearing witness to the oppression and suffering of marginalized and minoritized communities.
We commit to do the work to become a part of the solution. We are committed to teach all our students these histories and their connections to our present. We are committed to teach our students to be empathetic and socially responsible. We are committed to teach our students how a social justice lens improves reporting. We are committed to teach “Journalism that Matters”.