MEDIA
11/10/2015 01:18 am ET Updated Nov 10, 2015

Why Is A Mizzou Communications Professor Telling Reporters To 'Get Out'?

“I need some muscle over here!”

 

The University of Missouri campus, in a state of turmoil following Monday's resignation of president Tim Wolfe after months of racial tension, has been thronged by hundreds of local and national reporters.

Some were met with surprising resistance from students -- and a communications professor.

A video shows a student journalist attempting to photograph protestors who have set up a circle barring media from a public space.

The photographer, identified as Tim Tai, struggles to explain his First Amendment right to an obviously annoyed group. "You don't have a right to take our photos," someone says (he does). Another person adds: "You're infringing on what they need right now" (he's not).

The nearly seven-minute clip also shows a mass media professor identified as Melissa Click, who urges the students to block Tai's access.

As Tai leaves, another journalist who identifies himself as a member of the media asks if he can speak with Click. She immediately becomes enraged, demanding he "get out" before turning to students and yelling, "I need some muscle over here."

"I'm pretty incensed about it," Tom Warhover, executive editor of university newspaper the Columbia Missourian, told the Los Angeles Times. "I find it ironic that particularly faculty members would resort to those kinds of things for no good reason."

She certainly knows that Mizzou, which Vox notes has "a renowned journalism school and a strong culture of student media," cannot bar reporters from covering news on campus. She didn't immediately return an email requesting comment. 

Click's costars in the video are college students, demanding respect for the campus they love, much like Penn State students did after beloved football coach Joe Paterno was fired in the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal. Students' media savvy is understandably low. As a recent piece in The Washington Post points out, "college students have been saying stupid things since the invention of college students."

"One of the purposes of college is to articulate stupid arguments in stupid ways and then learn, through interactions with fellow students and professors, exactly how stupid they are," Daniel W. Drezner, a professor at Tufts University, writes about similar protests at Yale.

Click, however, holds no such license to stupidity. She holds a Ph.D. in communications from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her current research focuses on consumers of the 50 Shades trilogy of erotic novels and fan culture surrounding pop star Lady Gaga.

 

Tai, on assignment Monday for ESPN, told the LA Times he understood the need "to cautiously or delicately approach these stories without overwhelming people."

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