The University of Missouri journalism student caught on video defending freedom of the press during protests on the Columbia campus last month has been rewarded for his stance.
Senior Tim Tai is the first recipient of the First Amendment Defender Award, the Radio Television Digital News Foundation has announced.
The foundation, which sponsors the award, said it is presented to a person or organization that takes a public stand in support of press freedom.
Tai, working as a freelance photographer for ESPN, was covering the student protests against racial inequality at the university that led to a student hunger strike, a football players strike and the resignation of the university system president and campus chancellor.
Student protesters and some faculty attempted to restrict press access to the tent city that protesters had set up on the university lawn. Although most of the local and national journalists covering the public event backed down, Tai was seen in a viral video standing his ground while explaining that the same First Amendment that allowed the protest allowed him to photograph it.
Even after he was pushed and threatened with violence, Tai continued to photograph the scene.
“Supporting and defending the First Amendment requires bravery, integrity and perseverance,” foundation chair Amy Tardif said in a statement announcing the 2016 awards.
Other recipients were Cami McCormick of CBS News, Robert Garcia of National Public Radio, Rich Boehne of E.W. Scripps Co. and Tom Brokaw, former NBC News anchor, for lifetime achievement.