Va. College Students Charged With Reporting News

By Mike Tunison
|  Tuesday, Oct 27, 2009  |  Updated 3:00 PM EDT
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Va. College Students Charged With Reporting News

DRB62, Flickr

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Journalism is a profession that revels in its own puffed-up sense of danger. Sure, some reporters put themselves in harm's way in order to get a story, but for the most part, a job in journalism is as routine and mundane as any other office gig.

So, in one sense, 21-year-old Tim Chapman and 19-year-old Katie Hibson already have a leg up on most journalists. The top editor and reporter for The Breeze, the twice-weekly campus paper at James Madison University, were charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct for entering a dorm to interview students about a peeping Tom on the campus.

The Virginia chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is calling on the school to drop the charges, while university spokesman Don Egle said Chapman and Hibson were free to interview people outside. Access to dorms is restricted for safety reasons.

Whether that was a well-articulated policy will determine if the punishment will hold up, but chances are the First Amendment freak-out will be such that these kids should be OK. You're drinking for free at the reporter watering hole this week. Well, at least the one who is old enough to drink.

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