This just in: Lessons from Ferguson

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Join us for a special session at EIJ14

A new session has been added to Excellence in Journalism 2014:


Friday, 9:30- 10:30 a.m.

Despite calls from the President of the United States, the U.S. Attorney General and the Governor of Missouri to allow journalists to do their jobs, despite a signed agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri not to interfere with legitimate newsgathering, and despite repeated promises to allow reporters and their cameras access, law enforcement agencies in Missouri still harassed, threatened and arrested journalists in Ferguson, Missouri. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press sent a letter on behalf of 48 journalism organizations on August 15 emphasizing that gathering news and recording police activities, whether by members of the press or the general public, are not crimes. The groups call for training of law enforcement officers on the protections of the First Amendment and respect for the role of newsgatherers. However, there are also complaints the media went overboard in Ferguson. Editorials, including one in the Kansas City Star on August 22, said there has been “some productive, analytical coverage” but “much has been superficial, sensational and lacking context while feeding well-worn stereotypes and narratives.” And a freelancer working for Al Jazeera America wrote a blog describing a spectacle of bad media behavior. This session covers advice for newsrooms covering such a situation, including journalists’ rights, responsibilities and the needs law enforcement has to keep order.

Moderator: Bob Priddy, News Director, MissouriNet

Bob Priddy has been the news director of the since its founding in 1974. He’s the author of five books and is working on two others. He has led efforts to bring live debate from the legislature to the internet, and to bring live broadcasts of the Missouri Supreme Court arguments to the web. He is a frequently called-upon public speaker and is widely recognized for his knowledge of Missouri history. Bob is the only two-time Chairman of the Board of RTDNA.

Robert Brooks, online editor, Radio-One

Robert J. Brooks is the Online Editor for Radio One, Inc. / Interactive One's St. Louis, MO and Dallas-Fort Worth, TX markets. One of the first journalists to recognize the gravity of the Michael Brown story, Robert has been at the forefront of the local coverage from day one, leveraging his close connections in the St. Louis area's African American community to explain and clarify events — including strained police/media relations — in a way few others have. He has worked in the media industry for more than 10 years, serving in video production, broadcast, and digital media. His career includes both freelance and corporate experience with NBC, CBS, FOX, ABC, MTV, Microsoft, Echostar, Mozell Entertainment Group, Bad Robot, and others.

Elise Hu, NPR reporter covering Ferguson

Elise is an NPR reporter who covers the intersection of technology and culture and was on special assignment in Ferguson during the week of August 18th. She was covering the clashes between protestors, journalists and police as well as stories including the search for justice, teachers who helped to clean up the streets after nights of civil unrest, Michael Brown’s autopsy results, and faith leaders calling for a different dialogue. She wrote on her Twitter feed, “A few firsts 4 me in #Ferguson this wk. 1st tear gassing.1st stare down w/a SWAT team & its guns. Hoping for evryone's sake the calm holds.

Gregg Leslie, Legal Defense Director, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Gregg is the Legal Defense Director for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. The RCFP led a coalition of 48 national Media organizations that sent a protest letter objecting to the treatment of reporters during the recent events in Ferguson, MO that followed the police shooting of Michael Brown. The letter went to the heads of the city and county police as well as the state highway patrol. The RCFP has also put together a collection of resources for journalists including a hotline for legal assistance if they’re arrested or detained. The guide to "Police, Protesters and the Press," includes basic tips for journalists who experience or witness police attempts to impede press coverage.



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