The student journalists who work at various college, university and high school media outlets often suffer a number of indignities not laden upon their colleagues in professional area of the profession. They get overlooked, treated like second-class citizens and often chastised like sit-com kids for real or perceived slights.
I remember one particularly infuriating case in which a student photo editor went to the police department to get a copy of a mug shot. The desk worker said no such document existed, only to have the photo editor point out that a copy of the image was pinned to her cork board.
“Oh,” she said. “That’s for the REAL newspaper.” (Meaning of course the Gannett publication in town)
In most cases, the student media outlets have no real recourse but to take the smack on the keester and say, “Thank you, sir! May I have another?”
That’s what makes the approach of PantherNOW, the student media outlet at Florida International University, so refreshing. After getting stonewalled by the university’s media reps and sports information folks, the paper decided not to cover football this year. Making its reasons clear, the publication put together a thoughtful, reasoned and clear column that explains what happened.
While the students haven’t exactly pinpointed the source of FIU’s discontent, they have mentioned a possible sticking point in the column:
We have not been given a reason why we have been shut out of every coverage opportunity. After PantherNow reported that running back Shawndarrius Phillips, who had a warrant for his arrest the entire 2018 season was still playing on the team, we notice a rise in neglect for PantherNOW.
(You mean an organization associated with coach Butch Davis might have been overlooking shady things, acting in a “bush league” fashion and tussling with the media over openness? Get out of here…)
The students took a tough stand, as football is often the golden child of sports journalism. However, it’s the kind of stand worth taking when you know that you’re going to get lousy treatment or worse. In the mean time, you can still read some great coverage of other sports at FIU on the PantherNOW website.
Conversely, if you want to find out how FIU lost to Tulane by four touchdowns, you’ll have to consult ESPN.com or some other publication.