The media flocked to cover football players at the University of Missouri protest the handling of racial incidents on campus, but some of the student protesters balked at the influx — going so far as to form a human shield to keep reporters away from the action.
The students at Mizzou have built a human shield to block reporters from interviewing peaceful protesters pic.twitter.com/YCZjuvIZDL— Benjamin Hochman (@hochman) November 9, 2015
Traditionally, protesters might have welcomed coverage of their plight, certain that the national media's attention would amplify their calls and put more pressure on the institution.
There are many reasons for this. The students already accomplished their landmark goal — these tweets were sent after university president Tim Wolfe announced his resignation on Monday. The campus has seen dozens, if not hundreds, of reporters descend, most of them, like the national media, overwhelmingly white. And these students have come of age after the rise of digital organizing. The national media is just another institution they don't need, as the Washington Post's Wesley Lowery points out:
with ability to publish themselves via social, a lot of organizers/activists believe pretty firmly that they don't need to cater to MSM— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) November 9, 2015
The standoff appears to have caught many members of the national media, as well as student journalists at the university, off guard.
There were hundreds of members of the media there for the press conference at which Wolfe announced he was stepping down:
Media waiting for #ConcernedStudent1950 at Traditions Plaza #mizzou pic.twitter.com/4Z8XHpt2cq— Jamie Grey (@TVNewsJamie) November 9, 2015
Student activists tried to declare a "safe space" away from interviews and photographers:
"If you're here to support the students then help keep the press out," a woman just chanted pic.twitter.com/ogA2l5G2xc— Benjamin Hochman (@hochman) November 9, 2015
This video depicts a tense standoff between a student photographer who wants to get pictures and students — and one adult who could be a member of the faculty or an administrator — who ask him repeatedly to back up:
The standoff with a student journalist is notable because Missouri has a renowned journalism school and a strong culture of student media:
A few more from @Mizzou, home of a renowned journalism school. Told no permission for pictures...in public. pic.twitter.com/ew6JxbJCXF— Robert Cohen (@kodacohen) November 9, 2015
The Twitter account of #ConcernedStudent1950, the students who have led the protests, asked journalists to respect their boundaries:
It's typically white media who don't understand the importance of respecting black spaces.— ConcernedStudent1950 (@CS_1950) November 9, 2015
If you have a problem with us wanting to have our spaces that we create respected, leave!— ConcernedStudent1950 (@CS_1950) November 9, 2015
We truly appreciate having our story told, but this movement isn't for you.— ConcernedStudent1950 (@CS_1950) November 9, 2015