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Monday, September 1, 2014 | Last updated: 12:30am

Daily Wildcat presence at unlawful assembly was responsible journalism



As journalists, we didn’t fight the law on Saturday night. We just watched it win.

Armed only with pens, recorders and cameras, our photographers and reporters were in the crowd that gathered on Saturday, preparing to document anything that might happen. They were shoved, pepper sprayed and hit with pepper balls.

Some online are less-than-thrilled that we remained in the crowd reporting on the less-than-savory behaviors of Arizona fans. They said that it was our responsibility to avoid the “unlawful assembly” and to look away as our school reacted to our basketball teams’ loss.

But our responsibility is to report the news and the truth, even if it may reflect poorly on the UA, even if we have to put ourselves in risky situations. We’re not UA News. We’re not here to spread publicity or propaganda. We love our school and want it to improve, constantly. Our reporting is both a celebration of accomplishments and a challenge to rise higher, do better and become greater.

Journalists report. It seems like we wouldn’t need to reiterate that, but in the wake of challenges against our right to watch, to listen and to record, it bears mentioning. In this microcosm, this mini government-like hierarchy, we exist to check those in charge.

But it would be hypocritical if we didn’t expect the same monitoring.

Covering the crowd’s clash with the police on Saturday night was a first-time experience for our reporters and photographers, and there was a steep learning curve. Tweets were sent frantically, as Daily Wildcat employees were buffeted by the crowd, and clarity sometimes suffered for that. However, as soon as a tweet went out missing an important word or context, dozens of replies flooded in asking for more information or clarification.

Many people have replied to our articles about the disturbance with comments about how those in the millennial generation are unruly, disrespectful and apathetic to how their actions reflect on our generation, university and city.

But there was another “mob” following the action on Saturday: Twitter users from across the nation and news organizations from around the world.

Although there were inevitably a handful of inane replies, in general, Twitter provided a platform for our audience to both engage with us and act as our regulator. It’s clear that more than a few students and alumni deeply care about the university and its students.

We may be a student newspaper, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be held to rigorous standards — and hold others to the same.

If nothing else, the events of Saturday night reminded us how lucky we are to be journalists in the age of millennials. Feedback and news tips are nearly instantaneous, and we can spread the news as it happens, without ever having to wait for ink to dry on paper. These new tools have risks, but they also offer us the opportunity to speak to a huge audience more directly and quicker than ever before. And that audience is speaking back.

We’re getting comments and tweets telling us that the students were out of control, that the police were itching for a fight and everything in between. We think it’s a little bit of both — that the presence of an armed force served as an excuse for already distraught fans to act out their frustrations. And some of the videos showing how the police and fans interacted are extremely difficult to watch.

But ultimately, we’re not here to pick sides — we’re here to present them.

So you keep bearing down, and we’ll keep bearing witness.

Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat editorial board and written by one of its members. They are Sarah Precup, Joey Fisher, Katelyn Kennon, and David W. Mariotte. They can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter @DailyWildcat.


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