WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Treating Student Reporters the Same as Professionals

Feb 9, 2016

A Missouri House committee discussed a bill that would reinforce first amendment rights for student journalists.  St Louis Public Radio's statehouse bureau reported the bill, which is called the Walter Cronkite New Voices Act, would require public schools and universities to grant student journalists the same degree of free speech they would to a professional journalist.

Shop Talk panelist Jasmine Crighton works closely with student journalists, and she said their right to report is frequently challenged.  Crighton has created credentials for her NEWS3 crew, and said that has helped gain them recognition as reporters.

But Crighton said some people still try to take advantage of student journalists, hoping they are not well-versed on their rights.

Panelist Rich Egger the Missouri legislation was inspired by the case of Tim Tai, a student journalist who held his ground despite being bullied by demonstrators last fall on the University of Missouri campus in Columbia.  Egger said video of the confrontation demonstrates the hurdles sometimes encountered by student (and occasionally professional) reporters.

Panelist Jonathan Ahl said student reporters who are responsible and diligent about the craft should be treated just like any other reporter.  He wondered whether student journalists are hurt by the proliferation of propagandists because students are sometimes lumped in with them.