Yes, we are students. We are also journalists.

T’Nerra A. Butler

Preparing for the world of news is a task in itself. Student journalists are mastering their craft, dealing with the woes of being a scholar, trying to remain ethical in an unethical world whilst still struggling to catch a healthy four hours of sleep a day.

Why make the student-journalist’s life challenging by ducking and dodging the questions that the community wants to have answered?

I don’t know if the constant curveballs thrown by some administrators, faculty and staff stem from not wanting to talk on a subject matter, a distrust of the media in general, or if it’s the notion that students don’t know their rights as journalists to even ask for vital information.

But anytime a student is vying for the same story that the Tallahassee Democrat can swiftly pick up, and students are brushed off, that’s a hindrance.

Why preach that we want excellence from students, when students are not given the chance to ask important questions, inevitably blocking us from practicing the art of investigative journalism?

Students are finding their niche in journalism. They are finding themselves in the field. Should they not be able to find themselves through in-depth story telling? I certainly think so.

 We enjoy human-interest stories, issues at the Capitol and city council meetings, but can we report on why the third floor of the parking garage is all of a sudden safe? Was there construction going on and we missed it?

Our staff, on numerous occasions, has been troubled with potential sources avoiding our interview requests. That’s not all folks. Student sources have been advised not to talk to us as well.

Students have their work cut out for them as far as administrative censors, but why?

 Why have a school of journalism and a student-run newspaper if we can’t ask questions? In 2018 alone I’ve gotten at least four variations of “No one is going to talk about that,” said to me.

This semester, students have reached out to recently hired deputy athletics director Keith Miles about his new position – to no avail.  Athletics director John Eason was also a point of contact, but the staff drew another blank as we did not receive a response. 

In Fall 2017 attempts were made to get in contact with Board of Trustee members on an editorial discussing whether or not the university made the right choice in discontinuing the search for the university president. BOT members would have provided a factual voice to the piece.

The recent arrest of a student prompted The Famuan to write about faculty and student safety once the lawbreaker is released. The process it took to secure an official source who could discuss the incident equated to eating a bowl full of rusty nails. Rough.

To my discontent, I must charge it to the game. I know that people don’t like their pots stirred, but can we at least snag the interview before a question is turned down?

As journalists, student or not, it is our job to inform the masses.  

How will The Famuan EVER be taken serious as a news source if we only generate administration-friendly stories? Cooperating with the press not only helps us out, but gives the community more news on Florida A &M.

Being a transfer student from a predominately white university in Illinois, I realize this is not just a FAMU problem. Universities don’t want their feathers ruffled by their pupils, I’m sure.

However, consider this. What if CNN primarily aired profiles on President Trump and never discussed his major moves in the White House?   

That would be a huge disservice to the nation.

Are we supposed to wait until graduation to touch investigative journalism, or should we run to The Democrat asking for rattling stories? My immediate answer is no. It should start now.

We have the right to ask questions. And yes, people have the right to not answer them. But how will we truly learn by requests left unanswered?

I just want to talk about the stuff that no one wants to talk about. Is there something wrong with that?