In Journalism circles, having a degree from the University of Missouri was often a ticket for success. It is not only the nation’s oldest Journalism school, it is also one of the most prestigious.
When rankings for the best “J” schools in the nation are posted the University of Missouri is almost guaranteed to be in the Top 10 or Top 5. However, that may have all changed due to the actions of a single media professor during the recent student uprising at the school.
A Mass Media Professor, Melissa Click, is shown in a video asking for “muscle” to remove a student photojournalist, Tim Tai, who was working for ESPN and in a public place. It is a horrible act by a college professor and shows a total disregard for the Journalist’s First Amendment rights, which is against what the school has taught for decades.
“Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here,” says Click.
A video of Click’s actions against Tai has gone viral and has well over 500,000 views (LINK) on a single site. The New York Times has written an extensive story about her actions.
What was once a sympathetic media for the protesters has now changed with the actions of students and faculty against them.
Technically some have pointed out Click works in the Mass Media Division of the Department of Communications in College of Arts & Sciences, which is separate from the J-school. However, she is listed on the School of Journalism’s site (LINK), which tars the entire Journalism program whether it deserves it or not.
Click had earlier Tweeted out that she she was looking for coverage of the event by Journalists. Later on she is clearly leading the charge against other Journalists with total disregard for their rights to cover the event.
With the resignation of the school’s President and Chancellor the University of Missouri is clearly being painted as a college where the inmates are running the asylum. Rather than act like a Professor, Click and other faculty members have clearly shown they were behind the student protests against the administration.
If the University of Missouri doesn’t hire a crisis communications team immediately its entire image for producing quality Journalism graduates could likely be tarnished forever. If the school was wise it already had a crisis communications plan in place for such an incident, but that is unlikely.
The first move would be to remove Click. But that would be a stop-gap measure since a faculty member helping foment the disturbance was an indictment on all the faculty. The school hired her, and whether tacitly or not, approved of her actions.
A statement issued today by the Dean of the Journalism School denied she was part of the faculty and sounded as if her days as a professor at Missouri were numbered. Click has also been forced to apologize in an attempt to save her job and resigned her “courtesy” appointment to the J-School.
However, a Kansas City reporter told BLC that the protesters are refusing to speak with local reporters and will only do interviews with national media outlets. That is the kind of move that will turn sympathetic local media against them now and in the future.
It’s a bad move.