EDITORIAL: Non-journalists, media literacy is in your hands


This March, our campus will celebrate namesake holidays, like International Women’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Holi. But there’s a lesser-known holiday this month that is happening as we speak. 

Sunshine Week, from March 12-18, and Freedom of Information Day, today, are opportunities for everyone to learn about the importance of communities small and large having access to public information. 

Last year, Central Michigan Life collaborated with various campus partners to host a week-long string of events, all-related to open government and media transparency. 

These events offered valuable, necessary information. It was expected that many attendees would be from Central Michigan University’s various, accredited media departments. They were. 

What we missed was the non-media students. 

Sunshine Week is all about getting the truth across, but when you’re telling that to journalists, you’re often preaching to the choir. 

Journalists study this; we live it. This information, really, is for the population that does not know it. The people on the other end of the story, camera, or TV — the consumers. 

Non-journalists are the ones that need to learn the ethics and laws of the trade. 

This year, we challenge our campus community to let this week be the one that kickstarts your learning about media literacy. 

Think you know it already? Check again. 

Does a journalist have the right to cover a public event? Yes. 

Does a photojournalist have the right to publish a photo of a person at a public event, even without their permission? Yes. 

Does a newsroom have the right to deny a request to remove a photo/video/story? Yes. 

Does the newsroom have the right to publish, verbatim, what is said in a recorded interview? Yes. 

These answers may come to you as common knowledge or as a shock. Regardless, they are questions we routinely answer. 

Central Michigan Life is an independent, student-run campus newsroom. What does that mean? 

• Independent: We are not affiliated with CMU. 

• Student-run: Our newsroom is made up solely of students. There are three staff positions (director of student media, assistant director of student media and office manager) that assist with, but do not determine, content. 

• Campus: We are located on the campus of CMU 

• Newsroom: We operate nearly identically to any professional newsroom 

We work hard and we do thorough work for you. We are not here to twist your words or ruin your reputation. We are also not here to promote you. 

We are here to tell the truth. And we hold ourselves to the highest of standards while doing it. 

As Sunshine Week comes to a close, reflect on what you did. Have you taken a minute to look up Sunshine Week? 

Let this be your sign. 

Learn more about Sunshine Week and how to boost your media literacy with resources from the News Leaders Association and Society of Professional Journalists