Student newspaper takes heat after apologizing for 'retraumatizing' coverage of Jeff Sessions protest

'The editors of Northwestern's student newspaper are apologizing for doing journalism,' journalist writes.

The Daily Northwestern, Northwestern University's student newspaper, is taking heat after apologizing for "retraumatizing and invasive" coverage of a campus protest of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week.

The journalists posted photos from the event on Twitter, used the school's directory to obtain students' contact information for interviews and quoted a student protester by name.

"[W]e are figuring out how we can support each other and our communities through distressing experiences that arise on campus," The Daily staff members wrote in an open letter on Sunday. "We will also work to balance the need for information and the potential harm our news coverage may cause."

Weber Arch and University Hall at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

"We met as a staff Sunday to discuss where our reporting and empathy fell short last week, and we are actively re-examining how we'll address similar situations in the future and how to best move forward," the staffers continued.


Members of the media criticized the student journalists for apologizing for normal journalistic practices because of some backlash.

"Someday the young editors of The Daily Northwestern will look back on this episode in their lives with regret and shame. But for now, let's just think of it as a teachable moment," Chicago media writer Roger Feder wrote on Twitter.

Others weren't so kind.

"The editors of Northwestern's student newspaper are apologizing for doing journalism. This is deeply embarrassing," Matt Sebastian of The Denver Post wrote on Twitter on Monday.

The Daily's staff connected their need to apologize to the effects of their coverage on "marginalized groups."

"Ultimately, The Daily failed to consider our impact in our reporting surrounding Jeff Sessions. We know we hurt students that night, especially those who identify with marginalized groups," they wrote.

Meanwhile, the university's College Republicans chapter, which invited Sessions to speak on campus, said The Daily "declined to publish" its letter to the editor criticizing the protest.

Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism is one of the most prestigious journalism programs in the country.