Mizzou Professor Who Sought ‘Muscle’ to Push Out Journalists, Under Review

By Chris Ariens 

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Many of you fine TVNewser readers are alums of the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri, one of the nation’s top J schools.

Others may have Bachelor’s degrees with emphases in mass media or communication.

Today, we are seeing perhaps the finest distinction yet between a Journalism school and mass media program.

As you probably know by now, assistant professor of mass media Melissa Click prevented members of the media–some of them students–from documenting the goings-on at an encampment on campus related to ongoing issues of racism, which earlier in the day Monday cost the president of the University his job. At around the 7:17 mark and again at 11:44 in the video below, you can see Click’s tactics:

Late today, David Kurpius, the dean of the Missouri School of Journalism, released a statement, saying Click is not part of the J school, and further, her courtesy appointment at the J school is under review. Kurpius began by acknowledging the work of student photojournalist Tim Tai, who is featured in the early part of the video above.

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.

Update 6:15 p.m. ET: Click has sent a statement of apology: