Northwestern University black student group’s Ferguson discussion is closed to the press

For Members Only (FMO), which calls itself the “political voice of Northwestern University’s Black undergraduate student body,” held a “Ferguson Recap” discussion last night – an event that wasn’t covered by campus media today, only because they refused to play by FMO’s rules.fmo

From North by Northwestern’s editorial, with my boldface:

Earlier today [Tuesday], the executive board of For Members Only approached North by Northwestern and other campus media outlets to outline terms for coverage of their Ferguson recap event: Either we allowed FMO to review our coverage articles before publication or FMO would bar our reporters from entry.

FMO told the campus papers: “To be as clear as possible: unless you are willing to let us see the full text and quotes of the article before it goes to print, you will not be permitted to enter, record, or report on this event.”

The student editors said no to FMO. North by Northwestern told readers that “we value our integrity and independence highly …[and] letting a subject of coverage review an article before it goes to print is an unacceptable violation of journalistic ethics.”

The Daily Northwestern’s story today says about 300 people attended FMO’s Ferguson discussion. “The event was closed to the press,” the paper notes.

FMO’s adviser is Charles Kellom, who has a journalism degree. I’ve asked him about the group’s dealings with campus media.

* Why we didn’t cover FMO’s Ferguson Recap (northbynorthwestern.edu)

Update: The email to Northwestern campus media is after the jump.

From: Sarah Watson
Date: November 25, 2014 at 1:09:46 PM CST
To: [Daily Northwestern and North by Northwestern]
Subject: Ferguson Event Tonight

Good Afternoon,

My name is Sarah Carthen Watson and I am the Coordinator of For Members Only. As the editors/directors of the largest campus publications I wanted to reach out on behalf of the executive board of our organization. Our community is grieving, and going through more emotions than I could possibly detail in an email in the wake of the Michael Brown Grand Jury decision. Tonight FMO is hosting a meeting to love one another, heal together, and brainstorm ideas. This is going to be a safe space for our community. I’m not sure if either of you were planning on having reporters cover the event, but I wanted to preemptively reach out.

That being said, unless you are going to agree to the terms outlined before and after the State of the Black Union event, we will not permit you to enter the event if you were planning on covering it. To be as clear as possible: unless you are willing to let us see the full text and quotes of the article before it goes to print, you will not be permitted to enter, record, or report on this event. If anyone from your staff would like to attend the event as a student to support, that is fine, but if the terms are not met I do not want to see a story about this event in either of your publications.

Our community is in a fragile state, and this time is too important to have it tainted by poor reporting afterwards. This is not a war against either the Daily or NBN, this is me as Coordinator, reaching out to protect the students I represent during this difficult time.

If you have questions, my contact information is below.

Sarah Carthen Watson

Sarah Carthen Watson
Northwestern University ’15 | Social Policy, African American Studies
Coordinator | For Members Only
Director| Northwestern Sexual Health and Assault Peer Educators


Comments

comments