As a journalist, it is your duty to report the news. The real news. Not a fabricated story, not leaving important details out, but the honest to God news.
That is all the writers at The Michigan Daily, the University of Michigan’s independent student newspaper, were doing, and now they are being punished for it.
Sports writer Matt Slovin and staff reporter Adam Rubenfire broke the story on former Michigan kicker Brendan Gibbons being separated from the university for violating the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy.
This in turn saw the paper’s reporters not invited by the school to a press conference Monday where coach Brady Hoke discussed the violations, according to Slovin and Detroit News writer Tony Paul.
In a day and age where people will go out of their way to defend the free speech rights of just about anyone that speaks, seeing the school turn away their own paper because they were doing their jobs is outrageous.
What would have happened if The Associated Press had broken the report, or ESPN? Would the school have been as keen to block their reporters from attending the press conference?
The report from the paper is well written, well reported and factually correct. There have been no corrections issued for this story, they didn’t flat out lie — these journalists were just doing what they had been trained to do.
According to the paper’s website, they are financially independent from the school, but that didn’t stop Michigan from making a statement about the content that was being run.
As an editor for The Lantern, a rival Big Ten paper, I have immeasurable respect for these journalists. This story had to be reported on whether it made Michigan happy or not.
In the end, I’m not sure what the program gained by blocking these reporters from entering. With the speed that news is reported in today’s world, it was guaranteed this story would get out. Michigan comes out as the bad guy and The Michigan Daily ends up having more power than it did before.
The school failed in what it did and should be questioned for the decision. But more importantly we should celebrate the newspaper. Not for doing something extraordinary, but for simply doing their job: reporting the news.