Column: Journalists are not trying to make you look good or bad

Corryn Brock and Luke Taylor

As journalists, getting yelled at while covering events has become an unfortunately predictable part of our job. 

This weekend, we knew we would need strength in numbers as we got photos and observed the parties happening in a couple frat houses.

Contrary to the beliefs which were loudly expressed to us, we were not “trying to get them in trouble.”

The Daily Eastern News covers Unofficial in Charleston every year; when no one seemed sure whether the party would happen this year, we decided to just drive around and see what was going on. 

Sure enough, we found the parties and decided to approach on foot to get some photos. 

For those of you who aren’t familiar with communication law, permission isn’t necessary to take photos in a public space. 

When we reached the party on Sixth Street, someone came out and respectfully asked us to stop taking photos. We refused but explained our purpose for being there and he returned to the party. 

As we approached the party on Fourth Street, a few people saw us taking photos and many of the partiers went inside the house. 

Several did stay outside on the patio and repeatedly asked us why we were there and what we were doing, but they either didn’t understand our responses or were too intoxicated to process the situation. 

We left for a few hours to do other work, and then visited the same two parties to see if attendance had increased; it definitely had.

On Sixth Street, people seemed to remember us and didn’t approach or say anything, but the Fourth Street party was a different story. 

Again, many of the partygoers ran inside, and a few even ran away, but this time we were approached by around 10 different guys in a fluctuating group. 

This is when the situation escalated to the partiers yelling at us. We tried to explain that we were just there as journalists, we weren’t trying to frame anybody in a bad light, but we heard claims that the “mainstream media” had attacked the group before and that we needed their consent to take photos. 

As stated earlier, that simply isn’t the case. 

We were also targeted by many personal attacks, including criticism of our career choice, our decision to not attend the party, our appearances, and our… overall vibe? 

Neither of us expected “loser” to be used as an insult in college. That was pretty cheesy. 

Admittedly, neither of our feelings were particularly hurt by drunk students yelling at us. The danger of catching COVID-19 was a much bigger concern as we did not see a single person at either party wearing a mask. 

Still, this is indicative of both the disrespect that many Americans have toward journalism and the lack of education about free speech rights covered by the First Amendment.

We understand that the people at these parties don’t want to get in trouble, but we’re in college. We’re old enough to receive consequences like adults. 

If you made the choice to put lives at risk and break rules, it isn’t journalists’ fault for reporting on what you did.

 

Elizabeth Taylor and Corryn Brock are sophmore and junior journalism majors. They can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]