Thursday afternoon, just after news of Melissa Click’s firing broke, a KOMU reporter stopped by for a previously scheduled interview. The topic: whether there was too much news coverage of her now infamous utterances during last fall’s protests.
The answer for Thursday was easy. We could have published a dozen articles about the assistant professor of communication who became the nexus for lots of arguments about faculty governance and threats and counter-threats, First Amendment rights, legislative pressure on personnel, and, oh, yes, racism on campus. The Missourian published three articles, and they were all at the top of the leaderboard for readership.
On Friday, the Click story continued its upward trend as the American Association of University Professors called for the UM System Board of Curators to rescind the firing it had just made. The AAUP, as most people know the group by, said the curators committed a big no-no because they bypassed their own UM System rules and a couple of AAUP statements dating back six decades or more.
While the curators’ action pleased the barkers in the General Assembly, it royally peeved this big, prestigious organization.
There’s no winning, it seems, in the Click story. But there is news.
The KOMU reporter, Alex Farkas, still wanted to know the big picture. He said the station had gotten pushback from some viewers suggesting folks might be getting tired of the Click story.
When would the Missourian stop covering professor Click, he wanted to know.
The simple answer: not until the story dries up. Others, not us, will decide.
I wrote in November that the controversy over professor Click is secondary to the bigger story of racial inequities and the social justice movement on campus and in our city. I still believe that.
But it doesn’t mean the Missourian should ignore the controversy. It means, in fact, that we should continue to pursue it.
Sometimes a news organization can exercise some control over when and how to keep a story going. Other times, like this, it’s tough just to keep up as events unfold.
“Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear, why, he eats you.”