Life in the Box: Ferguson Local Coverage


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One of the most explosive recent reminders that racism is rampant in the Midwest, is the August, 2014 incident in Ferguson, Missouri, where a white cop killed a black youth. Coverage of incidents and protests related to that event have been in the national news in the days and months since. What has the local coverage been like?

St. Louis has eight television broadcast stations, three of which have nightly news programs. All have at some time run stories about the Ferguson events, but to look at their websites, none have compiled their stories and done community work around racism. There’s one exception: public television.

Local station “Nine Network of Public Media,” otherwise known as KETC-TV, has done some work that makes me proud.

With television programs like “Ferguson Forward,” Nine Net has taken their job of channeling the voices of the community seriously. They’ve given voices a place to discuss, publicly, the many aspects of racism and safety.

If their online collection of in-depth reports is any indication, their television organization has taken thoughtful steps in reporting, and beyond. By that I don’t mean “overstepping.” They’ve looked for ways to bring people together and create opportunities for listening and speaking that are meaningful.

They’ve held a forum, led by PBS news anchor Gwen Ifil. They’ve looked for local leaders with something in-depth to say, and they’ve opened their microphones for those who need to be heard. Even if this forum isn’t broadcast, it provides a neutral, safe space for people with strong opinions to gather. In my experience, the off-camera socializing at these events can create as much good as the program, itself. 

Nine-Net’s weekly news program “Stay Tuned,” which is “a social media-enabled” discussion show, has continued talking about racism, too. This is the type of communication that takes events past “he said, she said,” and into the realm of context and the larger picture. I hope the work they’ve done will create community connections that didn’t exist before… because only this has a chance of making their world a better place.

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 Nancy Heather Brown is an Emmy Award-winning television producer whose career has included interviewing, writing, and editing for a span of four decades. Today, she uses gems from this treasure trove of life stories to add sparkle to her reflections on the creative process both inside and outside the box. 

PBS Forum—Comments from the crowd

KETC Nine Network–Collection of  Ferguson-related Coverage

“Storyified” Ferguson Discussion