Looking back on Ferguson
November 26, 2016
As I look back on August 2014, two thoughts rise in my mind: “Hands up, don’t shoot” and the body of 18-year-old Michael Brown resting in the middle of Canfield Drive for over four hours.
Last September I was fortunate enough to attend the St. Louis Press Club conference “Ferguson: Reporting in Chaos, Finding Context” at Saint Louis Public Radio Studios (KWMU). Being able to hear from many of the people who covered Ferguson events, gave me a new perspectives on the unrest. From watching the live footage created by David Carson of the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, to hearing Bradley Rayford, freelance photographer, during the panel discussion say, “There’s a personal sacrifice that comes with journalism,” whether that be your emotions or your opinion, in journalism there is always something given up.
In regards to the Ferguson unrest, reporting was not time sensitive whatsoever. According to Carson, the initial thought behind the shooting of Michael Brown was that the story would only last a week or two. However, local and national journalists dedicated their time to this story for up to six months. The events that occurred in Ferguson are not about the journalists at all. It is about how tragedy can impact not only the heart and soul of a community, but the world along with it. I remember watching the news every night and seeing hundreds of people protesting in Times Square and marching in downtown Los Angeles. Even when a disaster strikes close to home, the impact of it travels so much farther.
While reporting in Ferguson may not have been usual for journalists residing in St. Louis, the impact of it has made my mind wander about the future. Will the shooting of Michael Brown be taught to the next generation of children? Is it possible that years from now people will look back and say to themselves, “I know exactly where I was the moment I found out?” I can’t say I have an answer to these questions, but after attending the conference I believe we all will take away something from the unrest. For me, that’s having the ability to recall exactly where I was on August 9, 2014.