The Daily Northwestern Apologizes to Students for Reporting News That Triggered Them

As reported in Reason on November 11, 2019:

The Daily Northwestern is the student newspaper of Northwestern University, which is home to the Medill School of Journalism, one of the best regarded journalism schools in the country…

[During a] a recent visit to campus by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions … Sessions addressed the College Republicans while student activists protested the speech, objecting to the Trump administration’s treatment of immigrants.

Some of the activists were apparently dissatisfied with the way The Daily Northwestern covered the event, resulting in an editorial apology by The Daily Northwestern staff.

From the editorial:

On Nov. 5, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke on campus at a Northwestern University College Republicans event. The Daily sent a reporter to cover that talk and another to cover the students protesting his invitation to campus, along with a photographer. We recognize that we contributed to the harm students experienced, and we wanted to apologize for and address the mistakes that we made that night—along with how we plan to move forward.

One area of our reporting that harmed many students was our photo coverage of the event. Some protesters found photos posted to reporters’ Twitter accounts retraumatizing and invasive. 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 …

Ultimately, The Daily failed to consider our impact in our reporting surrounding Jeff Sessions. We know we hurt students that night, especially those who identify with marginalized groups …

Going forward, we are working on setting guidelines for source outreach, social media and covering marginalized groups. As students at Northwestern, we are also grappling with the impact of Tuesday’s events, and as a student organization, we are figuring out how we can support each other and our communities through distressing experiences that arise on campus. We will also work to balance the need for information and the potential harm our news coverage may cause. We met as a staff Sunday to discuss where our reporting and empathy fell short last week, and we are actively re-examining how we’ll address similar situations in the future and how to best move forward …

It is obvious that the offended activists were harmed by the emotional violence triggered by the cited reports, and the apology was an expected response.

From Lefticon:

Trigger – any word, phrase, or situation that brings about an unpleasant or uncomfortable emotional response (anxiety, anger, fear, hate, disgust), a relapse of an addiction, or memories of a past traumatic experience.

Trigger can also be used as a verb, as in, “The moderator’s use of a gender-specific term, ‘guys,’ triggered anxiety in one of the participants, while the cross-talk and clapping triggered unbearable sensory overload in another.”

Emotional triggers are common in all social interactions, usually unanticipated. They should be avoided at all costs, but when anticipated by the “triggerer” they should be prefaced with a trigger warning.

Violence – the infliction of physical or emotional pain.

Violence was once limited to physical force resulting in pain, injury, or death. But physical violence against minorities declined as the result of the civil rights movement, legislation, and indoctrination of the masses. It then became expedient to supplement physical with emotional violence.

The newer, more inclusive conceptualization of violence includes emotional pain, with or without injury. Since the political base of the left is a coalition of victim groups, this expanded definition was necessary to expand the political base. Hate speech and verbal bullying became violence, as did many of the forms of sexual harassment and workplace aggression.

Emotional violence – non-physical violence perpetrated by a victimizer on an individual victim or a victimized minority group.

Emotional violence often results in emotional pain which can be more hurtful and lasting than physical pain. Severe emotional violence can leave the victim with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, suicidal ideation, sociopathy, or homicidal rage. In some cases, it can trigger suicide or mass murder.

Bullying and shaming are forms of emotional violence prevalent in the playground, schoolyard, classroom, social media, workplace, and boot camp. They are usually unacceptable except in political discourse when directed at a privileged white oppressor.

Note:  The old adage, “Sticks and stones can hurt my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is a quaint, easily debunked denial of emotional violence.

One thought on “The Daily Northwestern Apologizes to Students for Reporting News That Triggered Them”

  1. What is the origin of the “ safe space “ movement?
    Overtly it is thought and speech control.
    But what logic brought it to the front of the line?

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