On Sunday, The Daily Northwestern, the student newspaper for Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, apologized for its coverage of protests surrounding an on-campus event featuring former United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
As part of its coverage, reporters from The Daily Northwestern tweeted photos of protesters at the event and reached out to request interviews with students via cell phone numbers listed in the school’s directory.
In response to backlash from student activists alleging an invasion of privacy on the part of the student reporters, The Daily Northwestern posted the apology to their website and removed the name of a protester who was quoted in the story.
The Editorial Board, while recognizing that it is important to report with sensitivity toward marginalized groups, affirms the choices that journalists at The Daily Northwestern made when first reporting the story.
We do not believe that tweeting photos of participants in a public protest constitutes an invasion of privacy. Furthermore, we refuse to condemn the practice of contacting sources using school directories, as such is standard practice for journalists.
Student journalists have a responsibility to report significant events on their campus using the tools at their disposal. We serve an important role as watchdogs for our respective communities, and as such, cannot be afraid to report what we observe in public without fear of reproach.
With that being said, we also condemn the harsh admonishment of Northwestern’s student journalists by professional journalists on social media. As student journalists, we are constantly learning, and we commend The Daily Northwestern’s decision to sit down as a newsroom and reflect on their own coverage, even if we do not agree with the outcome.