A panel of journalists on Monday analyzed the news media coverage of the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
Those who spoke at the Missouri/Kansas AP Publishers & Editors Meeting were people who participated in the coverage of what became an ongoing national and international story. They were Jim Salter, St. Louis correspondent for The Associated Press; Charlie Riedel, AP photographer; Kenya Vaughn, website editor for the St. Louis American; Adam Goodman, deputy managing editor for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch; and Christopher Phillips, owner/videographer of Maverick Media.
What was clear is none of the journalists expected the unrest to erupt from the Aug. 9 shooting of Brown by then-Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson. The journalists also said no one anticipated that so many people from outside the state would pour into the St. Louis suburb, add to the unrest or that a national movement to begin against police shootings of African American men.
Journalists suffered assaults during the unrest and arrests or detention from police. The panel of journalists said mistakes were made in the coverage. National and international news crews’ stories mischaracterized the community.
Also, people pointed to the Ferguson Police Department having less than a handful of black officers in the majority-black city. But the same could be said of the news media covering the story.
The ranks of black journalists in newsrooms across the country have diminished greatly since the Great Recession with little hope of recovery. That adds to the lack of trust from people in the community that the story will be reported accurately. People openly expressed such concerns in Ferguson.
The Michael Brown story is far from over. The panelists said they hoped the dialogue it is generating, which they plan to report, will reduce racial profiling, increase opportunities for everyone and make the St. Louis area better.