Greising: University of Illinois Tries to Silence Reporters After Being Stung by #MeToo Investigation

Forcing a reporter to identify sources reporting harassment is like a journalistic stop work order. The move by U of I asks employees to surrender First Amendment rights, and appears to misuse Title IX protections.

The Colonnade sits on the campus of the University of Illinois at Springfield. (Short Tomato/Licensed under Creative Commons 4.0)

BGA President David Greising writes every other week for the Chicago Tribune Opinion section.

Rachel Otwell, a reporter for NPR Illinois, does not have the celebrity of Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor of The New York Times, or Ronan Farrow of The New Yorker, the reporters who broke the Harvey Weinstein story and made the #MeToo movement go viral.

Otwell currently does not enjoy the same First Amendment protections those journalists have, either.

That’s because the University of Illinois, which holds the NPR Illinois license for WUIS FM-91.9 in Springfield, has essentially issued an order that prevents Otwell from doing her work.

Otwell is facing this attempted restraint because, like many journalists in these days of #MeToo, she has found alleged harassment on her beat. This summer, Otwell exposed the University of Illinois’ deplorable handling of sexual misconduct complaints on campus. And she did so knowing the U. of I. holds the license for her radio station.

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