Target of Penn State Riots: The Media

“As thousands of students crowded the streets around the Penn State campus on Wednesday night, protesting the University’s decision to fire beloved football coach Joe Paterno, the mob quickly chose a common enemy: the media. A group of demonstrators teamed up to tip over a WTAJ news van, escalating the protest to a full-blown riot and sending journalists running for safety. After the WTAJ van was tipped, protestors targeted other satellite trucks parked in the area and began throwing things at nearby reporters and photographers. Students kept shouting threats at us and kept saying they were going to tip our satellite truck next,” Brennan recalls.  “My photographer, Mike Drewecki, was pelted with bottles, rocks, mud and other objects.”

What bothers me most about this rash display of emotion is not the indiscriminate disregard for destruction property or the various cases of assault exhibited by a select few (roughly a thousand PSU students) but the hypocrisy exhibited by the larger majority of PSU students: The idea that somehow, the media is responsible for the removal of Joe Paterno. After all, in their eyes, it was their attempts to vilify JoePa that led to his removal (and not his morally questionable decision to not to immediately notify police upon his discovery of the potential abuse).

In the same way that PSU students are entitled to express their disapproval for the removal of Paterno (in both speech and peaceful assembly), the media is entitled to their freedoms as well. Simply stated: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” That’s straight out of the Bill of Rights (the First Amendment, to be specific). This persecution of the media has gone on for long enough. I think’s it about time we take a step back and cease the hypocrisy. If we’re going exercise our rights to freely express ourselves it’s foolish to then criticize others for doing the same.


The quotes referenced above were taken from the following article:

Gauthier, Andrew. “Media Quickly Became Target of Penn State Rioters – TVSpy.” Media Bistro. November 10, 2011. Accessed November 11, 2011.

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