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Student protestors at the University of Missouri want a “no media safe space”

Members of the Concerned Student 1950 movement speak to students after president Tim Wolfe announced his resignation.
Members of the Concerned Student 1950 movement speak to students after president Tim Wolfe announced his resignation.
(Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)
Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

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.

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:

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:

Student activists tried to declare a "safe space" away from interviews and photographers:

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:

The Twitter account of #ConcernedStudent1950, the students who have led the protests, asked journalists to respect their boundaries:

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