This morning, I attended a live stream of the ONA’s opening session entitled “All Eyes on Ferguson, MO.” The panel consisted of Wesley Lowrey, a political reporter for the Washington Post, who was detained and arrested in Ferguson, Trymaine Lee, a national reporter for MSNBC, David Carson, a photographer for the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Mariah Stewart, a freelance journalist for the Huffington Post, and lastly, Claire Ward, a producer and shooter for VICE News. The panel was moderated by Michel Martin of NPR.
The discussion started out with how each panelist had found out about the happenings in Ferguson. Twitter was the number one source. To me, this goes to show how important social media is. Only one out of all five individuals found out about the news through a friend in TV. This story was driven to national, even worldwide, proportions because of social media.
Further into the discussion, the idea of competition between national and local news was brought to the table. Stewart believed that the local journalists at the scene, herself included, had a deeper sensitivity to the situation. She thought the national news helped blow up the story and even change the situation in Ferguson. Lowrey counters her argument as a national reporter by saying it is not a competition at all. The national news wants to come in, magnify the local news, and possibly asks questions the local news could not answer. He believed it was not about who did what right and who did what wrong, but instead, it about who’s doing what well and how can we share that with more people.
I found the VICE News coverage and the ideas shared by Claire Ward the most interesting. Being a start up, she shared that while they were there, each day they were trying to decide how they wanted to cover and share the breaking news with their audience. At points, they turned to a live stream. When the curfew was put in place, they stayed out all night to broadcast the events. She also shared a clip with the audience of a montage of her coverage. Unfortunately, I am unable to find it online, but she described it as a fuse between breaking news coverage and a feature documentary, and it was incredible to watch. The power of video and audio was definitely displayed. Here is a few examples of video coverage they shared on their website.
Michel Martin closed the session with the quote “Our brother killed our sister’s son” leaving the audience with a powerful idea to think on. Overall, I thought this session discussed very important topics on the Ferguson coverage. It will be interesting to see how this story develops more over time.
Here is ONA’s page on this discussion, including the full audio and live tweets from the event.