Around midnight on Thursday in Tallahassee, Fla., an unknown gunman opened fire inside Florida State University’s Strozier Library. According to witness accounts, the library was full with students when the shooter opened fire. Within moments, social media erupted with students-turned-journalists, capturing the events and moments as they unfolded for the world to see and hear, far ahead of any news outlet’s capabilities.
Just as quickly as the nation prayed and braced itself for a worse-case-scenario, the shooter was taken out by Florida State Police. Yes, the same FSU Police Department that has been under extensive scrutiny as of late, due to a New York Times piece highlighting its alleged internal corruption and preferential treatment of Seminoles’ football players. Three victims were shot and taken to Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare Hospital for unknown treatment.
I want to make this crystal clear, that regardless of public perception, last night they responded when it mattered, and thanks to their fast responses, many parents are breathing a sigh of relief today.
Instead of praising swift action by FSUPD, unfortunately the highlight of the night came at the expense of ESPNU reporter, Marisa Martin — a University of Alabama student who, according to her LinkedIn, had some serious aspirations in life:
“My ultimate goal is to work for a major network and become a sideline reporter for shows such as ESPN’s SportsNation, Unite, and First Take. Working in Sports Broadcasting is my goal, and has been since I could talk.”
The irony of sports broadcasting as a goal since she could talk, was that a single Tweet damaged her career to the point where she had to delete her account, followed by a national outpouring to the ESPNU Twitter for her termination.
As my fellow Campus Sports writer Jamie Han pointed out, Martin’s position with the network is vauge at best. Martin was involved with a student volunteer program, not a paid position as she alluded through her social media accounts.
Here’s the initial Tweet (which she was referring to 2013 National Championship and Heisman winning quarterback, Jameis Winston) that set the reaction into motion:
Students in the library wrote what they thought would be their “last good-bye’s” to their parents on whiteboards because they were so terrified. There was nothing funny about what happened on the FSU campus, whatsoever.
What makes Martin’s statements so deplorable, is that instead of immediately issuing a retraction and sincere apology, she felt the need to extend her sentiments coupled with what was perceived to be backhanded in nature.
Perhaps Martin did, at one point stand by her opinions, but soon after, she deleted her personal Twitter account, and then this happened:
The annotation of her exact position was deleted from the account’s bio section, and since then, all the contents in the screen shot (above) have also been deleted.
According to Twitter, Martin wasn’t a full employee of the network, but a student sports reporter. What that translates to is that Martin was an ambassador for the Mothership at one of the most storied universities in the nation. But more than anything, she was a young girl given an opportunity to have a platform where her childhood dreams could become a reality.
There are so many young men and women who would do almost anything (legal and ethical, of course) for an opportunity like that. And for someone to allow their personal opinions to cloud their judgement is just unacceptable. Especially for the hundreds of thousands of talented, responsible sports reporters out there who are just looking for an opportunity and a chance to get noticed.
What Martin did was violate the first rule journalism students learn in morals and ethics classes, and many feel that her actions should push for an entire syllabi addition in her honor.
We all have opinions, but most of us know better. In any situation where a shooting on a campus is involved, journalists and the general public need to practice common sense, compassion, empathy and the highest level of professionalism regardless of what school’s colors coarse through your veins.
All classes and exams on the Florida State campus are cancelled for the day.
*Section Photo credit to Streeter Lecka, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to YouTube