(KTRS) – The dean of the University of Missouri School of Journalism is weighing in on the controversy after a professor blocked a photographer from covering yesterday’s protests on the school’s campus.
A video shows assistant communications professor Melissa Click asking for muscle to help remove freelance photographer Tim Tai from the protester’s encampment on school grounds. Journalism school Dean David Kurpius said that Click is not a faculty member in the School of Journalism. He says the incident provides “an opportunity to educate students and citizens about the role of a free press.”
Tuesday, the activists have allowed media to enter their “tent city” and cover the reaction to yesterday’s resignations of President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin. The university also appointed an interim vice chancellor for inclusion, diversity and equity.
FULL STATEMENT from David Kurpius, dean of the Missouri School of Journalism:
The Missouri School of Journalism is proud of photojournalism senior Tim Tai for how he handled himself during a protest on Carnahan Quad on the University of Missouri campus.
University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe and University of Missouri-Columbia Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin both resigned on Nov. 9 after complaints and protests of their leadership. Tai was covering the event as a freelancer for ESPN when protesters blocked his access through physical and verbal intimidation.
The news media have First Amendment rights to cover public events. Tai handled himself professionally and with poise.
Also, for clarification, Assistant Professor Melissa Click, featured in several videos confronting journalists, is not a faculty member in the Missouri School of Journalism.
She is a member of the MU Department of Communication in the College of Arts and Science. In that capacity she holds a courtesy appointment with the School of Journalism. Journalism School faculty members are taking immediate action to review that appointment.
The events of Nov. 9 have raised numerous issues regarding the boundaries of the First Amendment. Although the attention on journalists has shifted the focus from the news of the day, it provides an opportunity to educate students and citizens about the role of a free press.