Roses left behind on the street where Michael Brown was shot. That was the story that was never told about the aftermath of Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri. People went to the scene and left single roses or scattered rose petals in the street where the 18-year old was shot. The street was covered with roses and rose petals, Robert Brooks, Radio One reporter, said at the Excellence in Journalism (EIJ) conference in Nashville, September 4 – 6. EIJ is jointly organized by the Radio-Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) and the Society for Professional Journalists (SPJ). Dr. Kathy Bradshaw, Chair of the Department of Journalism and Public Relations, talked to journalists from across the country at EIJ.
The EIJ conference included sessions about running a digital news business, reporting for financial literacy, learning coding, and assessing the coverage the Ferguson story in which a police officer, Darren Wilson, shot and killed Michael Brown. Law enforcement officers turned down an opportunity to speak at the conference. The local law enforcement was unprepared to handle the onslaught of reporters, according to reporters who were in Ferguson. Some said that there was confusion about how to define a reporter. The reporters working for news organizations noticed that there were people who were not reporters and wanted access to the police. Other reporters were concerned about what citizens thought was an escalation by the police because police were wearing military gear. Many reporters were aware that some of the actions by some of the protesters were performed only for the TV cameras.
In the discussion of police and reporters, Bradshaw learned that Ohio is one of two states (along with California) in which police may not keep reporters away from a scene for the reporter’s safety. The officer cannot say to a reporter, “You can’t go there because it is not safe.”