Race and the Media in Ferguson

I, like many others, heard about the shooting of Mike Brown via social media.  I read about it on Tumblr soon (hours?) after it happened, and I don’t think I heard about it in any other sort of news source until days later.  In fact, I’m fairly certain the first words in real life that I heard about the shooting were in the kitchen of my living group.  Someone read off their phone, incredulously: “It has been 4 days since the police shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri?”

Now it’s been 5 weeks, and I think a lot of people have sort of put the shooting out of their mind– there has been a lot less media coverage, for example, and whereas three weeks ago I was unable to go a day without reading something new on the internet about how the Ferguson police had pushed out Amnesty Internation, now most of the Ferguson-related topics seem to be “DON’T FORGET.”

That’s totally understandable in some ways– definitely it would be hard to live in constant outrage for five straight weeks unless this is a thing that directly affects you.  For a lot of people it does directly affect them– the people of Ferguson, certainly, and most black americans as well.  I remember seeing a post on Tumblr that collected information about all of the white police officer-on-innocent black person shootings.  There were at least five recently– that is, within the past 6 months, and this post ended with the assertion: America is not for Black people. And while I think that’s a pretty sensationalized title, it does stick in the mind and it is memorable, which means all of the shootings associated with the posts are also memorable, and that can’t be a bad idea.

Another interesting facet of the coverage of Ferguson is the prevalence of tweets.  Tweeting is really common when things are happening– news breaks first on twitter, after all– but now I’m seeing a lot of tweets of outrage, even after most of the conflict has died down.

Two of the most common threads seem to be: arrest Darren Wilson, and the fact that conflict is still happening.  These could reasonably be misrepresentations, but if true, they draw to light an unpleasant fact of the media– if the news is old, no one will care.  People know about Ferguson now, but since it’s been happening for five weeks, no one wants to hear about the conflict, since it’s old news.  People know that Darren Wilson shot Mike Brown, but it’s old news.

Knowing this, how do we bring more attention to ongoing problems? How can there be justice?


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