Lauryn Hill made waves on the Internet this week when she released “Black Rage (Sketch),” a track written in the style of “My Favorite Things” that recounts various acts of violence and injustice against the Black…
I had been on the ground helping Al Jazeera America cover the protests and unrest in Ferguson, Mo., since this all started last week. After what I saw last night, I will not be returning. The behavior and number of journalists there is so appalling, that I cannot in good conscience continue to be a part of the spectacle.
Things I’ve seen:
-Cameramen yelling at residents in public meetings for standing in way of their cameras
-Cameramen yelling at community leaders for stepping away from podium microphones to better talk to residents
-TV crews making small talk and laughing at the spot where Mike Brown was killed, as residents prayed, mourned
-A TV crew of a to-be-left-unnamed major cable network taking pieces out of a Ferguson business retaining wall to weigh down their tent
-Another major TV network renting out a gated parking lot for their one camera, not letting people in. Safely reporting the news on the other side of a tall fence.
-Journalists making the story about them
-National news correspondents glossing over the context and depth of this story, focusing instead on the sexy images of tear gas, rubber bullets, etc.
-One reporter who, last night, said he came to Ferguson as a “networking opportunity.” He later asked me to take a picture of him with Anderson Cooper.
One anecdote that stands out: as the TV cameras were doing their live shots in front of the one burnt-out building in the three-block stretch of “Ground Zero,” around the corner was a community food/goods drive. I heard one resident say: “Where are the cameras? I’m going to go see if I can find some people to film this.”
Last night a frustrated resident confronted me when he saw my camera: “Yall are down here photographing US, but who gets paid?!”
There are now hundreds of journalists from all over the world coming to Ferguson to film what has become a spectacle. I get the sense that many feel this is their career-maker. In the early days of all this, I was warmly greeted and approached by Ferguson residents. They were glad that journalists were there. The past two days, they do not even look at me and blatantly ignore me. I recognize that I am now just another journalist to them, and their frustration with us is clear. In the beginning there was a recognizable need for media presence, but this is the other extreme. They need time to work through this as a community, without the cameras.
We should all be ashamed, and I cannot do it anymore. I am thankful for my gracious editors who understand that.
And here we have the ugly face of the 24 hour news cycle, the very 21st century kind of reporting that demands we not only have fifty million outlets (print, broadcast but overwhelmingly online) and therefore the material to fill them. There’s a distinct difference between covering the news, acting as the 4th estate, and searching for the truth - ie, what real journalism is - and finding content to fill your outlet. Journalism isn’t about making stories, it’s about finding them, giving people a chance to tell them, sharing them. True journalism is the noblest of pursuits but this kind of behaviour (from the journalists or from their networks, I don’t know or care really) is reprehensible and drags the entire profession down with it. Journalists search for the truth and then tell it. That’s all. If you want to be the story yourself, you had better stop reporting and go do something so spectacular and unusual it demands attention, because reporting ain’t it.
Lucy Flores, candidate for Nevada Lt. Governor, joins Joy Reid to discuss her decision to speak about issues that women typically are discouraged from engaging in while running for a position in the government.