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UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Sincerely, A Journalist

“Was that statement off the record or on the record?” “Can these times be confirmed with local radio stations that reported on the incident as well?” “Is this word too incendiary?”
The time is 11:57 p.m., and copyeditor, Mitchell Cameron, and I still linger in The Mass Media office. The surrounding silence is broken only by the creaks of our chairs or the occasional dialogue focused on the board in front of us. Scrawls in every color litter the white board. Times, dates and names of people are crammed into various corners. Our eyelids are crusty from the lack of sleep, but an article needs to be written, and so our hands prevail in the face of exhaustion.
This is the unpredictable and hectic life of journalism.
The article we were working on so diligently was printed in the April 1 issue of The Mass Media: “Hazmat Team Called In at West Residence.” But it wasn’t just this night that the article was born. 
An article is born the moment an event occurs, and this one was no exception. As the sirens blared from the fire trucks that raced toward the West Residence Hall, I was working on an essay at my desk in the East Residence Hall. As soon as the fire truck entered my window’s line of sight, I knew I was now on the job. You see, the press never really takes a break. If there’s something going on, it’s the duty of a journalist to report on it. I abandoned the essay, shoved my feet into my slippers, quickly pulled on a robe, and emerged on the site. I stayed downstairs for two hours, until the last of the fire trucks disappeared. For the entire duration, I took notes of everything and anything that happened, interviewed students, and contacted other colleagues on any reports they may have had that differed from my own. 
I went to sleep that night at 4 a.m., sorting through my notes and rewriting them for clarity—as in my hurry, they were just scrawls—and of course, finishing the essay I had due that afternoon. And for the rest of the week, my free time was spent furiously researching every platform that had mentioned the event, from Twitter to the Greater Boston Public Radio to students’ own social media platforms. I contacted various administrative staff and was told to wait for an official university response. Waiting patiently is a quality no journalist will ever admit to being good at. When the university’s response came in, I now had to hunt down statements from students who felt comfortable sharing their viewpoint of the event. All this information, from the tabs that were open on a laptop to the scrawls in the notebook to the notes in the margins, were sorted on a white board so familiar to journalists; it’s these mediums that help in organizing the various information that we have because organized information makes for an organized article. By the time I was done sorting fact from fiction, rumor from fact, speculation from confirmation, the sun had long set in the sky; it had taken five hours. 
And it was at midnight that the article finally took shape. 
When the article arrived, freshly printed, smelling of new ink, I saw my exhaustion take the form of sweet satisfaction because I had done it. Amongst all the assignments, exams and responsibilities, I had an article that I knew was credible, solid and worthy of my pride. It made the two-hour wait in the freezing temperatures in my slippers and nightwear outside the West Residence Hall worth it. It made the midnight spent sorting through information and emerging victorious with 600 words, exhaustion coating every surface of my body, worth it. 
So, on Welcome Day, when I learned that The Mass Media, the University of Massachusetts Boston’s “independent student-run newspaper,” was asked by the university to remove its newspapers from the stands because the front page reported on the hazmat incident that had occurred in the dorms, I was hurt. When I saw the photo of The Mass Media newspaper stand on the first floor of University Hall which had been emptied, I felt belittled. Then when I saw a photo of the same stand, which had been refilled, with the papers turned around and a jacket hanging off of it, I felt trivialized.
Please, do not misunderstand me. Just because I am a journalist does not mean I wish to see this university fail. I love this university. So much so that I am a journalist because I believe this university could be doing better than it is and because I believe in not shying from the truth because only the truth sets us free and demands us to be better. So when I saw my article had been turned around, only to be read by a blank wall, I was devastated that this was the treatment I received; I love this university, and I believe in its betterment, and I understand my position to attribute to its betterment as a journalist. 
When you take down those papers, which only contain words that held the connotation of “bad press” to you, you are saying that the effort students put into printing news that is credible, dedicated and driven is worth nothing. 
When you turn the papers around, facing a wall, you are declaring that these words, the product of tireless work in the office until midnight—where the truth, the simple drive to print the truth that took precedence over exams, essays or classes—does not matter. 
When you hide those words, those words that were tossed around in singularity by various writers and seamlessly combined to form a title that we all are proud of, you are saying that the effort placed into titling an article you see as problematic deserves to go unnoticed. 
When you were silent, even when faced with the truth of your wrongdoings, you are hinting that students are not deserving of your respect. 
When you refused to acknowledge us, you are affirming that journalists, individuals who pursue the truth, are unworthy.
You may still choose to take down our papers. You may still choose to turn the papers around. You may still stay silent when confronted with your wrongdoings. You may still deny us an apology. But we are journalists, and we have faced much, much worse. 
Our people have been called fake news. We have been accused of being sell-outs to corporate interests. We have been threatened by governments. We have been murdered.
We are not your enemy. We are part of your community; the honest, bare, and essential part of it. When you attack the press, you attack the community. But know this: none of our trials will ever prevent us from doing our duty, to print the truth, even if it is something no one wants to hear. We will continue to persevere, whether it be from the cell belonging to a corrupt politician, or a beloved university campus where our First Amendment rights were violated.
Sincerely, 
A Journalist