Last Wednesday, before buses even returned to campus from Fox Day festivities on New Smyrna Beach, a story went live on NBC’s WESH Channel 2 local news. The newscast depicted Rollins students as belligerent party animals with no regard for authority. Once seen by students, the video of the newscast went viral. Upwards of 900 people shared the link on their Facebook pages; many Rollins students cited this report as hateful and dramatized. They are not wrong.
“They were here as soon as we were,” said a student in reference to the news crew. “They already knew what story they were looking for.”
A dramatic shot of a police officer pouring a confiscated beer into the sand was seemingly directed by the crew themselves. Cameras demoralized the students as they zoomed in uncomfortably close on a student who was clearly ill and highlighted other altercations with police.
While it is legal to air the faces of adults in public places, one has to wonder if the line between reporting the news and exploitative journalism has been crossed. For example, is it fair to fi lm a close-up of someone who is passed out and cannot feasibly control his or her actions? I doubt that any other crew would feel comfortable filming a shot of a sick person at that distance. Also, the reporters exaggerated just how many and to what extent students were involved with law enforcement. Approximately 1,000 students attended Fox Day only somewhere from 15 to 20 of which received citations. A citation for bringing alcohol onto the beach is very similar to a parking ticket in that you are expected to pay a fine. The reporters also made it seem as though all of the citations were for underage drinking. Even those who were of age received a citation if they brought drinks onto the beach.
Reporters highlighted students in a less-than-positive light, saying that “attitude” caused a problem for beach police. Not only does this statement make no sense from a legal standpoint, as it is impossible to receive a citation for attitude alone, but it was solely inserted to make Rollins students look misbehaved and entitled.
As many students pass this clip around Facebook, they do not realize the cost at which this negative press has come. Rollins received its first black eye from the media in being banned from Cocoa Beach, making Fox Day at New Smyrna an important time to show that Rollins students can be responsible citizens. Discussions of dry-land Fox Days in years to come are very possible after this damaging report. SGA will meet April 11 to discuss the events of Fox Day and how has affected its future.