After several nights of community outrage in Ferguson, Mo., over the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, it wasn't until Washington-based reporters from The Huffington Post and The Washington Post were arrested by heavily armed local police that the political class in D.C. and Jefferson City started paying attention, Politico reports. Days of Twitter dispatches and Instagram videos from the protesters themselves had done little to change police behavior. Wednesday night, tweets and stories about the arrests of reporters Wesley Lowery and Ryan Reilly, along with harassment of other journalists, got the mainstream media machine moving.
An important story — involving the shooting of an unarmed African-American man by a police officer, public anger over the lack of details from the police and a heavily armed response to protests — had become something that hit home to journalists. It got results. The next morning, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon had state officials take over policing of the community, to amazing effect: The police playbook toward the town's security was rewritten overnight and the mood in Ferguson changed appreciably. Friday night, however, saw a chaos again with looting and riot police once again called onto West Florissant Street.