How the Media Has Affected the Portrayal of Ferguson
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Politics and Activism

How the Media Has Affected the Portrayal of Ferguson

How the Media Has Affected the Portrayal of Ferguson

Today’s media holds a remarkable power over society – a power that is frequently overlooked. Viewers are often too engaged in the news being covered to recognize the massive influence that the media has on our opinions of the world. However, in the recent Michael Brown and Darren Wilson case, the impact of the media has appeared indisputable. 

Days prior to the announcement of whether or not Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson would be indicted over the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, the U.S. media seemed to have no other concern than covering the case and unveiling every detail accountable thus far. Networks like CNN and Fox News spent countless hours broadcasting the facts of the case, including their own personal predictions of the grand jury’s decision, before St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch announced the decision. 

News reporters also took this time to voice their predictions regarding how the community would respond based on the announcement of the grand jury’s decision. Some reporters anticipated peaceful protesting regardless of the jury’s decision, while others expected a chaotic riot to take place in result of a jury decision that protesters would not support. 

As if tensions were not already high enough within the community, the media did not hesitate to advertise this uneasiness and its negative effect on society. News stations highlighted the anxiousness preceding the grand jury announcement and created a sense of unrest in viewers while counting down the minutes until the decision was announced. 

Finally, Bob McCulloch made the announcement on Nov. 24 that officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted for the shooting of Michael Brown. 

The announcement culminated a wave of mixed emotions within community members – anger, confusion, and dissatisfaction. This led to the continuation of protests, peaceful and violent, and only the latter of which were covered by the media. 

The Michael Brown case and its aftermath does deserve immense coverage. Protesters do deserve attention and do deserve to have their voices heard. Reports should be covering a case that has caused so much controversy. However, although I believe today’s reporters are well-educated on their facts and the background of the case, I do not believe that they have delivered justified, unbiased news coverage. 

It has now been one week since the grand jury announcement was made. These passing days have shed light on the true power of the media. 

Think about it: what have you seen on the TV, heard on the radio, read online within the past seven days? Have you seen the mass amount of positive efforts community members are making to improve the division at hand? Or have you only seen coverage of violence? 

This is what I, myself, have seen thus far in the media: coverage of Ferguson businesses being burned, malls being loitered, and police being ambushed. Videos of people screaming, crying, and cursing. Statistics of how many shots have been fired and how many arrests have been made. These are some of the things I have seen. 

And then, somewhere in between the lines, I manage to find those few headlines reflecting the peaceful protesting that has occurred and the constructive endeavors that have been made by citizens to try and achieve a sense of hope. 

It is fair and necessary that the violent protests and negative repercussions are being covered by the media. My point, however, is that there has not been enough coverage of the positive

It really puts things in perspective – when did media become targeted toward events that people want to hear, rather than what people need to hear? When did tragedy become an opportunity for media to increase ratings rather than increase the variety of voices that are heard? What ever happened to unbiased, transparent news coverage? 

It is time for the media to, not move on from the Michael Brown case, but rather begin to highlight all aspects of its aftermath. It is time to include coverage of citizens volunteering to clean up the Ferguson community, citizens donating to the police stations who have worked unending hours to protect the community, and citizens protesting peacefully. It is time to uphold fair, unbiased coverage. 

Here, I am a journalist criticizing journalism. And in doing so, I hope to see a change toward fairness in the field I aim to pursue.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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