By now, many of you have seen the news coverage surrounding the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. The shooting took place on August 9, 2014, with the demonstrations and looting beginning shortly thereafter. Unsurprisingly, nearly every major news outlet has a team in Ferguson to cover the events. I’m sure many of you know about the tear gas, rubber bullets, arrests, Molotov cocktails, military presence and pleas for peace in the streets. That said, you may have missed the coverage of incidents directly involving the media. Here’s a summary of some of the media-related incidents that have occurred in Ferguson.
For the readers outside of the St. Louis area, here’s some basic knowledge about the local print media outlets that have been covering the Michael Brown shooting. The daily newspaper in St. Louis is called the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Like every other newspaper in the country, the staffing numbers are down from years past, but the P-D has ten staff photojournalists, plus a director of multimedia and a director of photography.
Respectfully, if you are counting on the national news broadcasts to learn about Ferguson, you’d do much better just following the St. Louis outlets.
David Carson is a P-D staff photojournalists, and he was one of the first photographers on the scene following the shooting. Carson, who has war zone experience and was wearing full riot gear, was struck on the head while trying to get photos of the Quik Trip that had been set ablaze. Eventually police kicked him out of the QT. The Poynter Institute has an extended account of the events, written by Kristen Hare.
After you finish that article, please take the time to read this piece from Lindsay Toler of the Riverfront Times. The Riverfront Times is a local magazine that has been publishing good long-form coverage. Toler discusses the role media is playing in Ferguson, and why it is likely the arrests of journalists will continue.
On a national level, TIME has a lightbox that features the photos of many of the P-D photojournalists. In the accompanying interview, Carson discusses how his time in Iraq relates to covering Ferguson. Fellow P-D photographer J.B. Forbes relays a poignant and scary story about being threatened twice a candlelight vigil.
Robert Cohen, also on P-D staff, plainly states that the dust-ups between police and media could be attributed to the police’s inability to distinguish between protesters, looters and members of the media.
The New York Times LENS blog has a great piece about how photography is helping us understand the events, namely images made by young, amateur African-American photographers and videographers creating the images using cell phones or other ‘non-professional’ cameras.
The images alone paint a harrowing picture. The article provides great historical context. Don’t skip this one.
Back to the media harassment, though.
Scott Olson, a Getty Images staff photographer, was arrested and detained briefly. He was not charged. Getty swiftly condemned the actions.
CNN reported on Tuesday that a total of 11 journalists had been arrested, detained and released. That lists includes journalists from major news outlets like Financial Times, The Telegraph, The Washington Post and Sports Illustrated.
Here are links to Neil Munshi and Robert Klemko detailing their experience:
— neiL Munshi (@neiLmunshi) August 20, 2014
Protesters are now hiding behind cameramen as police advance down street. "They won't fuck with the media!!"
— Robert Klemko (@RobertKlemko) August 20, 2014
When they cut cuffs off minutes later, I held onto it. Johnson tried to take it. I said "it's a ferguson souvenir." pic.twitter.com/89t6G49FId
— Robert Klemko (@RobertKlemko) August 18, 2014
A Canadian news reporter was arrested Tuesday, apparently under the direct order of Capt. Ronald S. Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol. Johnson is in charge of the police response. The event was captured by a CTV cameraman. The reporter was detained overnight but released without charges.
The police aren’t the only ones harassing journalists in Ferguson. Politico discusses the backlash both local and national reporters have experienced via demonstrators.
Last but not least, PBS has a great compilation of Who’s Who if you want to follow many of the local photojournalists or reporters.