Zorn’s visit demonstrates journalistic ethics in action

Written by on September 16, 2023

Last Thursday, Aug. 31, Kansas Wesleyan University’s Media Production courses provided students with a valuable opportunity to discuss the effects of an international press rights controversy in Marion, KS. On Aug. 11, the Marion Police Department executed a sweep of the Marion County Record’s newsroom. The raid has drawn international scrutiny for suspected violations of the First and Fourth Amendments, which protect journalists. KWU Alumna Phyllis Zorn (Class of ’96), the reporter at the center of the controversy, spoke with KWU students about the raid.

Zorn’s visit gave KWU students a chance to witness journalistic ethics in action. The sweep of the Marion County Record in Marion County, KS on August 11 was appalling. It was a public performance of anti-press sentiment that must be named, condemned and resisted. As KWU’s Communications and Theatre Arts students pursue careers in media and performance, it is crucial that they understand they are part of those affected by this raid. They are also among those who should be most angered by it.

Zorn chose KWU to share her story because it offers our students a powerful message. Communications and Theatre Arts students must understand that the rights afforded to the press are not luxuries; they establish the basis for civil engagement in the United States. They are also at risk. The young media professionals setting off from KWU to work in this field must be prepared to speak truth to power. They must be prepared to fight for the rights that many find inconvenient to their ambitions. These students are the ones who, in the future, will bear the responsibility that Zorn bore on Aug. 11, when she faced down the persecution aimed at the Record. To bear that responsibility in mind, and to cherish it, is to be a good journalist. As the actions of Zorn demonstrate, KWU is in the habit of making good journalists.

From the KWU Student Media editorial board.

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