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MU Professor's Actions In Protest Draw Criticism, Scrutiny

UPDATE (5:30 pm): Late Tuesday afternoon, MU Communications professor Melissa Click released a statement apologizing for her "language and strategies" in confronting reporters on Carnahan Quad on the Mizzou campus. 

"[I] sincerely apologize to the MU campus community, and journalists at large, for my behavior, and also for the way my actions have shifted attention away from the students' campaign for justice. From this experience I have learned about humanity and humility." 

She goes on to explain that she reached out to "one of the reporters" she confronted and that he accepted her apology.

"I believe he is doing a difficult job, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to speak with him," her statement read. 


It seems like maybe the Missouri  School of Journalism is now asking for 'muscle' of its own. 

School officials say they are reviewing the status of a professor with a courtesy appointment, after she was filmed Monday confronting a reporter amid student-led demonstrations on campus.

The video was filmed in the immediate aftermath of the news that UM System President Tim Wolfe had resigned. Protesters are seen trying to forcibly remove reporters away from the center of an area on campus known as the Carnahan Quad, where protesters had been encamped. 

In its final section, it shows a woman now identified as Melissa Click telling the reporter filming to leave the protesters' encampment. 

"I'm media, can I talk to you?" the reporter, identified as Mark Schierbecker asks Click.

"No, you need to get out!" she replies forcefully. When Schierbecker refuses, it appears Click tries to grab his camera, repeating, "You need to get out." 

After Schierbecker refuses again, Click turns to other protesters and yells, "Hey, who wants to help me get this reporter out of here! I need some muscle over here!" 

Missouri journalism school officials say Click, contrary to some speculation and snark on social media Monday, is not a faculty member at the journalism school. Dean David Kurpius wrote in a statement that Click is a faculty member of the university's communications department.

"In that capacity she held a courtesy appointment with the School of Journalism. Journalism school faculty are taking immediate action to review that appointment," Kurpius's statement read. 

An email sent to Click's university account was not immediately returned for comment but this post will be updated with a response. 

Click's actions Monday drew swift condemnation in social media. And her colleagues at Mizzou also expressed frustration over the role she and other faculty members played in confronting media members Monday, some of whom were MU students. 

"What I would have liked to see happen is see those adults — those faculty members — who are more experienced in the world and with the media to have said to the reporters there, 'Can you all just wait a minute and I'll get someone to come over and talk to you.' But what I saw was pushing, shoving and a lot of haranguing," said Katherine Reed, an associate professor in the Journalism School. 

Reed is a professor of Tim Tai, a student photographer shown in the video being confronted by several protesters. Tai garnered praise and supportfor his actions. 

"I felt this was just mistreating a journalist who was doing his job. But this poor guy is just surrounded by people who — some were polite but persistent — but others who were being pushy," Reed said. 

In his statement, Kurpius said he was "proud of Tim Tai for how he handled himself." He said Tai, who was covering the protest as a freelancer for ESPN, "handled himself professionally and with poise." 

KCUR is licensed to the University of Missouri Board of Curators and is an editorially independent community service of the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Kyle Palmer is the editor of the Shawnee Mission Post, a digital news outlet serving Northeast Johnson County, Kansas. He previously served as KCUR's news director and morning newscaster.
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