- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The dean of journalism at Northwestern University on Tuesday strongly defended the school’s student newspaper after protesters accused it of “retraumatizing” minority communities for covering a speech by former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week and the protests surrounding it.

The Daily Northwestern editorial team issued a statement Sunday apologizing for “retraumatizing” students by posting pictures of the Nov. 5 event, where Mr. Sessions gave a speech titled, “The Real Meaning of the ‘Trump Agenda.” His speech was repeatedly disrupted by students chanting “F– Jeff Sessions” and “You are a racist, you put kids in cages,” and the former Trump official was eventually forced to leave the stage under police protection.

The Daily Northwestern, which covered the event as well as the protests, apologized for exercising basic journalistic practices, like taking photos and reaching out for potential interviews, and said all photos taken at the event had since been deleted.

Charles Whitaker, dean of the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, issued a lengthy statement Tuesday calling the paper’s apology misguided.

“As the dean of Medill, where many of these young journalists are trained, I am deeply troubled by the vicious bullying and badgering that the students responsible for that coverage have endured for the ‘sin’ of doing journalism,” Mr. Whitaker wrote.

“But I patently reject the notion that our students have no right to report on communities other than those from which they hail, and I will never affirm that students who do not come from marginalized communities cannot understand or accurately convey the struggles of those populations,” he continued. “And, unlike our young charges at The Daily, who in a heartfelt, though not well-considered editorial, apologized for their work on the Sessions story, I absolutely will not apologize for encouraging our students to take on the much-needed and very difficult task of reporting on our life and times at Northwestern and beyond.”

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