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Ed Desk: Covering a known racist

30 January 2014 By Jonathan Munshaw, Editor-in-Chief No Comments

Ever since the days of the Youth for Western Civilization, when Matthew Heimbach still hadn’t become a name you’d find on CNN or ABC, our coverage from The Towerlight was called “sensational” for giving Heimbach and his group attention they didn’t deserve.

As the group eventually morphed into the White Student Union, we continued to cover the group, and online comments continued to say that we, along with other media sources, needed to stop covering Heimbach so that he didn’t get the attention he craved.

Which, I can agree with. Oftentimes, Heimbach and others who share a similar ideal are in the minority of this country, which has generally become a place of acceptance for people of all races and backgrounds.

At almost every meeting or event the WSU or YWC would hold, there would be far more students there against what the group stood for, than those who were in the group and were there to support their cause.

In that case, the media does bring these people to the forefront of the public view, when they would otherwise be buried, confined to blogs that cover and follow the type of issues that the White Student Union and other groups of their ilk stand for.

So, you might be wondering why in the news section, there is a story about Heimbach’s latest actions and his appearance on Nightline on ABC, written by yours truly.

It is never my goal to make The Towerlight into a sensational news publication. It is never my goal to over-blow any particular issues on or off campus.

However, it is my prerogative to cover the news, and to cover things that are relevant to Towson students.

So, when a former student who started the most polarizing movement in the history of Towson University goes onto the national news, saying he is preparing for a race war, I would consider that pretty relevant.

You will never see a picture of Heimbach as the cover image of our paper, with big bold lettering saying “THE FUTURE OF HATE.” That is sensationalizing, and just putting something together for the sake of people picking up The Towerlight just to see a picture of a white supremacist.

But when he does something that catches this much national attention, it’s worth us reporting on.

This is a guy who could eventually be one of the leading white supremacists in America, and as Nightline pointed out, is working toward a bigger goal, working with some of the most famous super conservatives this nation has ever seen.

I encourage commenters on The Towerlight website to have a healthy discussion about coverage of these kinds of events and people, and I am certainly open to hearing what you have to say.

And yes, there are some reasons to not write these kinds of stories.

With riots going on in Ukraine, a number of states in the U.S. working toward legalizing same-sex marriage and the number of sexual assaults occurring on college campuses rising with colleges seemingly ignoring it, there are plenty of other, “better” stories to be writing about.

But the hope in publishing these stories relating to Heimbach and his groups is that readers will see what is going on in their community, and use that information to make a difference.

Take for example our cover last semester when a good portion of the campus got together to fight back against what Heimbach and the WSU stood for. It is my hope, and the hope of our staff, that our stories make a difference, and that they may insight change or action on a particular issue, which is all any journalist could really ask for.


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