Journalism Students and Faculty Members React to Charlie Hebdo Attack

Journalists at colleges, both at the student and faculty level, are expressing their thoughts about last weeks tragic shooting at the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo.

The shooting occurred on January 7th as two gunmen entered the magazine’s offices and proceeded to open fire, killing 12 people. The attack is said to be have been a means of retaliation for the many cartoons in Charlie Hebdo that placed the Islamic Prophet Muhammad in what were viewed as blasphemous situations by the two militant Islamists.

David Cuillier, director of the University of Arizona’s School of Journalism, is quoted in an article by the University of Arizona News to have said, “The outpouring of support has surprised me. I generally don’t expect that kind of sympathy for journalists. But the nature of the attach was so horrific, I don’t think you can just stand by.”

Cuillier says that the tragic events in France have hit home hard for him and many other journalists, including students, around the world. He says, “We have such a close affinity to France in the birth of a free press. Their thinkers were the genesis of our liberties. (The attackers) hit us all.”

In an article by University of Arizona News, Cuillier speaks of incidents where his own journalism students experienced threats after an article about peace between Muslims and Jews, which hardly registers on the same scale as the cartoons in Charlie Hebdo. Yet the FBI was brought in due to the death threats received by the student.

The freedom of the press is something that is so important to Americans even during the times when it is fought against. Cuillier attests to what he calls the “love-hate relationship” with the media. He says, “The press will always be a punching bag. People like to get mad when the press isn’t on their particular side of an issue, but they also rely on the press.”

Journalists all over the world have felt the heat of angered readers whether they were reporting on events occurring on their own soil or in other countries, both war torn and not. The threats received and negative reactions were still there and are nothing new to the reporting world.

Fellow UA faculty member and journalism professor, Mort Rosenblum, said it echoed these sentiments on Facebook soon after the Charlie Hebdo attack on Wednesday.

In his lengthy post on the Reporting Unlimited page he wrote, “In Paris, we have seen how high a price many pay whether they venture into the heart of darkness or work at a desk in the city of light. Reporters, our eyes and ears, enable us to fathom the complexities that shape every aspect of our lives. Some are better than others, which is why we need a lot of them. The rest of us must realize their worth and protect them with everything we’ve got.”

Student journalists around the world are also expressing their thoughts on the shootings with posts cropping up from student journalists and student editors consistently since last week.

The editorial team at The Independent Florida Alligator wrote, “To say the attack was horrific, reprehensible and brutal is true, but those words still fail to capture how this feels for us – not to mention what it means for the people of France…We can only hope that Charlie Hebdo and its satire – which must exist if a liberal, democratic tradition is to continue – are not defeated by this attack.”

UCLA student, Natalie Delgadillo, wrote a blog post for the student newspaper The Daily Bruin in which she said, “In many ways, what happened at Charlie Hebdo was special, unusual, exceptional. In many more ways, it was part of a predictable and consistent pattern of violence against and restriction of the press. Journalists are killed on a regular basis. Journalists are arrested and unjustly imprisoned even more often…When we think about the extreme violence of Charlie Hebdo, let’s think about that, too. Let’s think about the 61 journalists that died doing their jobs last year. The ones that are still being imprisoned for doing their jobs. This happens, this is happening. Let’s not proclaim ‘je suis Charlie’ and forget we did it when the sting of this most recent tragedy fades.”

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