The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Flames of the Torch: The Torch’s Stance on Reporting, ICE and Columbus Day


Every school year, the Torch sends out reporters and photographers to cover breaking news and planned events organized by St. John’s University’s students, administration, faculty and alumni.

This can range from but is not limited to talks, presentations, performances and protests.

When it comes to private events, Torch reporters and photographers will ask permission to cover them. An event in which students need permission to attend, such as being a member of a group, is private.

An event being run by an organization in a reserved, private room in which they can choose who can and cannot attend is private. In both of these cases, the Torch sees it as necessary, transparent and respectful to seek permission to attend.

However, events such as protests and demonstrations held in open settings, are not a private event. The nature of a protest is public. Torch reporters will identify themselves when and if they need a comment from a particular person. But they are mostly there to document what happens. This holds true for any protest anywhere in the United States — not just St. John’s.

When it comes to photographs at a public event — such as a protest or demonstration — we as student journalists do not need your permission to use the photos on print or online. The photographer will identify themselves after taking photos (if it’s a close up), in order to ask for your full name for a caption.

These guidelines are a part of the ethical journalistic standards provided by the Student Press Law Center, Society of Professional Journalists, and many others. We also learn them from our journalism classes at St. John’s.

Journalism acts as a snapshot of history that is happening now. If it weren’t for journalists, events that will matter a week from now, a year from now and 10 years from now, may not be remembered.

At the Torch, we do our jobs to the best of our ability in order to represent every side of any issue or event on our pages and in our stories. Should there be any questions regarding our protocol please reach out to [email protected].

Questions about our photography policy came up after students protested ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the Career Fair last week. Many students felt it was inappropriate for the University to invite these organizations to campus after more than once expressing concern and promising safety for undocumented students.

St. John’s needs to keep its word in protecting some of our most vulnerable students.

Yes, there are students who study subjects like homeland security and criminal justice who may benefit from these organization’s attendance, the school must take all students’ backgrounds into consideration.

However, many organizations and activists are looking into possible corruption happening in these organizations, and their treatment of undocumented immigrants. Such a polarizing issue should be handled with better care at SJU.

They have taken some actions. SJU will not be closed on Columbus Day Oct. 8, even though they used to recognize it as a holiday. It may be a positive if only in appearance’s sake, as the University says the decision was based solely on calendar machinations. But it still counts for something.

Instead, the school will celebrate Veterans Day with a day off, which is a more relevant choice for our ROTC students and veteran students, faculty and alumni.

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