Party in the MIZ-USA: Covering the reactions to bin Laden’s death at Mizzou

This has certainly been quite a week for me journalistically-speaking.

Everyone kept saying last night that it was going to be one of those moments where you would never forget where you were when you found out. I wasn’t doing anything glamorous, but I suppose that’s true. Sitting in front of the TV in my sparse dorm lounge, on the phone with my dad in quiet anticipation of the president’s speech, I could feel how historically significant the evening was.

It’s important to add, however, that social media played a huge role. The first tweet I saw about the news of bin Laden’s death was even before the major news networks started confirming it. It was by Jill Jackson, a CBS News Capitol Hill Producer. I was literally amazed at how much tweeting and facebook-ing ensued. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the updates and outpouring of reactions.

Suddenly, being at a renowned journalism school surrounded by journalism students meant a little bit more. I said more than once last night that I would have given anything to have been in a newsroom at that time. Little did I know what I would be doing only a short while later.

After Obama’s speech, I settled in for the night. Not more than 15 minutes later, at about 11:30 p.m., my friend and fellow Missourian reporter, Margaux, knocked on my door.

“Want to go do journalism?” she asked.

I thought a split second before answering: “Yes!”

And to Greektown, we went. I returned to my dorm about 3 hours later after having covered the celebration that mobbed Richmond Ave. It was fun, but Margaux, Rachel and I were exhausted after running after sources and trying not to get trampled. I think our story really captured the energy and spirit of the night.

While I am happy that bin Laden is dead, I am not sure what his death means for our country. I am proud our country kept his death as a priority and that through two presidencies, that didn’t waver. I have heard arguments that death shouldn’t be celebrated, and I agree, but bin Laden’s life meant more death and destruction in his people’s and our people’s futures.

An eye for an eye may make the whole world blind, but one crazy, murderous extremist can incite others to violence. The US did not act out of vengence or display unreasonable emotion by killing bin Laden; it was a response to a threat to our security and to any country or people that maintain the sanctity of human life. We are in a war, and sometimes that means extraordinary measures can be taken.

I remember being scared during 9/11, and some of that fear has been alleviated now that he is gone, but I can’t help but wonder if there will be backlash. My biggest fear and anger would come out of bin Laden’s followers trying to make him a martyr. Mass murderers shouldn’t get to die as heroes, whatever their cause of death.

Overall, I think President Obama spoke eloquently about the government’s struggle to achieve this goal and how our country has not forgotten the sacrifices and the losses we have faced as a result of bin Laden’s attacks on the US on 9/11.

My goal wasn’t to open a can of worms about the ramifications of bin Laden’s death. But I will say, whatever happens, it was a great night to be a journalist, and an even better night to be an American.

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