U.TOWN BLOG: Journalism school restrictions briefly prompt plans for sit-in

Friday, April 30, 2010 | 8:05 p.m. CDT; updated 12:17 a.m. CDT, Sunday, May 2, 2010

This story is excerpted from the Missourian's U.Town blog. The full post, including the text of the e-mails mentioned, can be found there.

Brian Brooks, an associate dean at the Missouri School of Journalism,  stirred up controversy with journalism students today when he sent out a mass e-mail decrying students staying late in School of Journalism buildings and propping open locked doors in the evening.


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Brooks said MU Police would begin patrolling the building and remove students who don't have authorized access to the building after hours.

The move resulted in a mostly online backlash from students questioning Brooks’ judgment. Some students joined a Facebook group that advocated a "study-in" in the journalism school to protest the policy.

Some concerns students shared were:

  • That many students work long hours, especially during finals week, and a police presence would add to stress.
  • That students pay tuition to use facilities that would be closed off to them after-hours.
  • That many assignments are time sensitive, and regulating access to technology would interfere with deadlines.

I talked to Brooks today, who seemed annoyed by the accusations that his actions were not reasonable.

He said that any journalism student can obtain access to the facilities, and was irritated that professors were not passing along the information to students that would ensure their access. He said that any student could get their name on a list through their professor and could get their student ID card activated easily, which would allow them to open locked doors and avoid problems with police.

He said he is concerned for the safety of students because homeless people have been entering Reynolds Journalism Institute after hours through propped open doors. He also made clear that the rules to be enforced by police have been in effect for the past two years.

Brooks sent out a follow-up e-mail close to 7 p.m. to clarify his earlier statements. He explained the process to obtain access to the buildings, as mentioned above, and said that policing the buildings would probably not go into effect until summer session.

The "study-in" was called off because its creator found Brooks’ second e-mail satisfactory.

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tina fey May 1, 2010 | 6:49 a.m.

The MU J-School is a joke. What a foolish waste of time for students. Furthermore, this 'drama' does not merit newsworthiness (but I do realize that the Missourian is not a newspaper, rather, a student journal). Dear MU J-School Student - Wake up and smell the coffee burning! No one cares about your hyped-up drama. The 4 people who read this paper and the other 3 who live their lives on Facebook do not care about your narcissistic self-intrigue. JOURNALISM IS A DEAD PROFESSION. Just look at the newspaper industry. Newspapers are going broke. The lights are turning out! Why? Because no one cares what journalism students have to say. To see the MU J-School students frothing about themselves over petty yet necessary safety regulations just confirms what Mainstreet American has known for quite some time. The journalism profession is out of touch with the primary concerns of everyday Americans. ITS NOT THE AUTONOMY, STUPID!

Get over yourselves and stop taking up ink to flagellate one another. Better yet, get a real profession!

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith May 1, 2010 | 9:37 a.m.

No, tina_fey, I would not agree that MU's J-School is a joke, any more than I would agree that MU's School of Engineering is a joke or that MU's School of Medicine is a joke.

The question regarding MU's J-School is whether or not it comes anywhere close in practice to living up to its self-image. I have no intention of rendering an opinion on that!

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin May 1, 2010 | 6:46 p.m.

This makes no sense:

"No, tina_fey, I would not agree that MU's J-School is a joke, any more than I would agree that MU's School of Engineering is a joke or that MU's School of Medicine is a joke."

Did Brian Brooks call the J-school a joke?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith May 2, 2010 | 5:11 a.m.

Mike Martin, you and other readers missed the "tina_fey" tirade, which had a short life before being removed. If you had read the comment, my comments would make sense.

Too bad you missed it. Even engineers from Missouri University of Science & Technology wouldn't submit something like that! We might definitely THINK it, but we wouldn't write it.

Thanks for the laugh, "tina." Your comments are still circulating on another net. Our alumni from Missouri to Mauritania are enjoying a good laugh. Stop by our campus any time and we'll buy you a coffee ... or something far stronger. Would you also care for an honorary degree?

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin May 2, 2010 | 10:25 a.m.

So you're telling me that the Missourian censored some unflattering comments by this person about the J-School?

(Report Comment)
Jake Sherlock May 2, 2010 | 11:08 a.m.

One of our editors removed Tina's comment earlier because she thought "Tina Fey" was a fake name. However, I've personally verified Ms. Fey's posting account, and she just happens to have the same name as the "30 Rock" star. As you can see above, the comment has been restored.

As long as the criticism of the J. School or the Missourian doesn't violate the comment policy, you're free to criticize all day long. Read the comment policy here:

Happy Sunday,

Jake Sherlock
Opinion Editor
Columbia Missourian

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin May 2, 2010 | 5:31 p.m.

Yeah, I know she's real -- at least, according to Rob Weir.
I've been complaining about fake names for some time, including Tina Fey's!

I don't agree with Ms. Fey that journalism is a dead profession. I'm buried in journalism assignments, many of which you can see at

Journalism is changing, and in remarkable ways. Whether or not the MU J-school is keeping pace may be debatable, but as a non J-school grad, that question is beyond my pay grade and interest level.

(Report Comment)
Rob Weir May 3, 2010 | 10:00 a.m.

That's actually according to our newsroom editors who check these things. That's not in my job description.

Rob Weir

(Report Comment)
barry pechenik June 1, 2010 | 11:58 a.m.

To Tina Fey:

Journalism is dead? I think not.
Newspapers going broke? Correct.
Why? Because no one cares what Journalism students have to say. Not exactly.

Content and quality are an issue but people still read newspapers, blogs, books,- just online. I read the Sunday NYT on my IPhone. The challenge is how to alter the model and make it profitable. The only Jouralism that I know of that successfully integrates print and online in a profitable way is the WSJ.

Not sure what your real agenda is, although I am certian you have one. But to suggest that there is no demand for content is pretty foolish.

Full disclosure: I am not a Journalism student, dont attend MU, and have no axe togrind other than I did not think your conclusions were very well articluated.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith June 1, 2010 | 12:27 p.m.

One problem with communication these days is that the attention span of some potential readers/viewers can be best measured in nanoseconds! That of course favors visual communication over print.

I continue to be amused by segments on the TV network news shows called "in depth." How can anything really be treated "in depth" in just two minutes?

(Report Comment)

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