Letter: News Reporting Was Part of the Milo Problem

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Dear journalists and news editors:
 
Congratulations. You walked right into the welcoming arms of Breitbart, their stuntman, Milo Yiannopoulos, and the publicity puppy, Martin Shkreli. I hope you feel proud of yourselves.
 
When our community heard the Breitbart circus was coming to town, the protests were only one of the responses that was planned.
 
Students put together two alternative events that night to build something positive at the same time that Yiannopoulos was promoting hatred. One event was called Change/the Conversation and featured Franchesca Ramsey from MTV’s Decoded and trans activist CeCe McDonald. For two hours, Ramsey and McDonald discussed racism, the intersectionality of prejudices, and how to overcome them. A second event was called The Dog Whistle Project and featured Kevin Samy, a strategist and speechwriter in President Obama’s administration. Samy unpacked the coded language that transmits the politics of hate and shared ideas on how to cross the “empathy bridge” to connect across political divides.
 
Additionally, that same night, the Acme Theatre Company was staging their production of Pronoun, a play that explores the journey of a trans high schooler as he struggles with his transition with his friends, his family, and his self. Acme Theatre Company gives high school students a place to learn both acting and technical theatre skills, and their plays provide a forum for challenging and thought-provoking topics. After the play, members of LGBTQIA community groups held a Q&A with the audience.
 
An ounce of research would have turned up all the efforts that our community put in to counter Breitbart’s message of hate.
 
Even your reporting of the protest itself was disappointing. Did you notice that one of the groups protesting is a well-known local group called Statement of Love? Did you know that when our Islamic Center received a threatening letter that Statement of Love showed up multiple times at the mosque to demonstrate our community support for our Muslim neighbors? Did you even try to learn any of the valid grievances that the protesters have about Breitbart coming to our community and our university and using us as a platform for their message of racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia? Did you ask any students about their stories of harassment and fear because they are trans, they are Muslim, they are undocumented, and Breitbart has swept a candidate into our highest office who has promised to attack them all?
 
If there is one lesson that the news media should have learned from this past election, it is this: You need to try harder. Your appetite solely for spectacle means that the less exciting but far more necessary community actions to organize and build solidarity fly under your radar and make you the dupes of the alt-right. You can still make this right. Come back and talk to us. Highlight the everyday actions we are taking to create positive change in the world. Show the world that we—and you—are better than Friday night’s coverage.
 
Yours sincerely,
Concerned Citizens of Davis
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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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3 thoughts on “Letter: News Reporting Was Part of the Milo Problem”

  1. Cory Copeland

    I think this letter definitely shows how the reporting missed important aspects of what was occurring at UC Davis on Friday.  What was even worse, were how many basic facts reporters got wrong.  Claims of property damage, broken windows, and violence were false.  Headlines claimed the administration shutdown the event, but the College Republicans themselves did under advisement.  If our state’s media can’t even report facts clearly, I am not surprised they also lost a lot of the positive actions that were occurring on campus that night.

    1. Howard P

      You speak truthfully… media, including blogs, tend to focus on “what sells papers”/what gets the most ‘hits’/what gets the best ratings on ‘air time’/ratings… the nature of the beast… and it can be a beast.

      Yet, don’t give up and keep pushing for coverage of the positive stuff… the transformative things folk are doing… I promise I’ll be listening, for whatever that is worth…

  2. Keith O

    It was the protesters who made themselves the news story by their actions on Friday night while shutting down free speech.  Don’t blame the journalists and news editors for the student agitators actions.

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