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The Hilltop


Power To The Pen: Student Media Matters

The Hilltop Expresses To Howard University That Student Media Is Still Media.

By The Hilltop Editorial Board
Posted 9:20 PM EST, Thurs., Sept. 1, 2016

On Thursday, First Lady Michelle Obama paid an impromptu visit to Howard University alongside Seth Meyers and Nick Cannon for a panel discussion about her Reach Higher initiative.

Among those at the event, held in the School of Business, were students, faculty, and other members of the Howard community wishing to engage with the panelists. However, according to our fellow student media colleagues at WHBC 96.3 HD3 and Spotlight Network, it was clear that undergraduate student media had little to no presence at all.

Today’s lack of coverage was a direct result of lack of information. No student media outlets were notified of the First Lady’s surprise visit. No student media outlets received information regarding what her discussion would consist of. Therefore, when it began, no student media representatives knew to participate. Upon arrival, they were turned away due to a lack of space.

As student journalists, what we seek most is to inform through our respective platforms. Events like today provide not only enrichment for us to continue to learn how to report in a high-profile environment, but also to provide opportunities for us to gain valuable experience. The First Lady’s visit represented a crucial, yet extremely avoidable, missed opportunity.

Additionally, as media professionals, The Hilltop, which has served as the student voice of Howard University since 1924, in addition to WHBC and Spotlight Network, know that spur-of-the-moment events are integral aspects of delivering news. More, we understand that White House protocol often causes issues regarding which media outlets are able to provide coverage. However, we would have hoped that our university would provide the same opportunities to us for coverage that it did for The Washington Post, NBC News, Fusion and the Associated Press, who were all present today.

Having taken note of today’s events, looking ahead we propose that Howard University and its administration be more willing to collaborate with its student media outlets. In the future, we hope that student media outlets will be included in meetings with other students leaders and receive the vital information necessary for us to report and inform our audience.

As our university enters the finalization of sale of WHUT, the nation’s last remaining black-owned public television station, we believe it is imperative that we cling to our own media institutions. Moving forward, we plan to begin rebuilding a relationship with our university as a media outlet while holding its leaders accountable through the power of our pen.

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