- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The student newspaper at Northwestern University in Illinois is facing ridicule after apologizing to students for exercising basic journalistic practices, like taking photos and reaching out for potential interviews, after protesters disrupted a speech by former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week.

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, said it had since deleted photos taken from the event.

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“Some protesters found photos posted to reporters’ Twitter accounts retraumatizing and invasive,” the paper wrote. “Those photos have since been taken down. On one hand, as the paper of record for Northwestern, we want to ensure students, administrators and alumni understand the gravity of the events that took place Tuesday night. However, we decided to prioritize the trust and safety of students who were photographed. We feel that covering traumatic events requires a different response than many other stories. While our goal is to document history and spread information, nothing is more important than ensuring that our fellow students feel safe — and in situations like this, that they are benefitting from our coverage rather than being actively harmed by it. We failed to do that last week, and we could not be more sorry.”

The student newspaper also apologized for its journalists committing an “invasion of privacy” by using the university’s student directory to obtain phone numbers of potential interviewees for the Sessions story.

“We also wanted to explain our choice to remove the name of a protester initially quoted in our article on the protest,” the paper added. “Any information The Daily provides about the protest can be used against the participating students — while some universities grant amnesty to student protesters, Northwestern does not. We did not want to play a role in any disciplinary action that could be taken by the University.”

The Daily Northwestern acknowledged that its journalistic practices “hurt” students, “especially those who identify with marginalized groups,” and promised to do better.

The apology touched off a wave of backlash on social media, particularly by media personalities and journalists.

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