Whatever happens in Ferguson, Mo., this week will be televised, and until then, every part of the lead-up will be, too, says the Washington Post. Shop owners boarding up stores have found themselves giving impromptu news conferences. Media galleries form to listen in on church sermons. Television trucks hum in the parking lot of a tire shop, a front-row seat across from police headquarters. The national media has assembled with a grand jury deliberating whether to indict a white police officer who fatally shot a black teen. The any-day-now anticipation, coming with ever-revised cable news speculation, has returned this city of 21,000 to a spotlight it understands and sometimes bristles at.
Many residents, business owners and elected officials welcome the scrutiny, saying that a media presence helps expose systemic, race-related problems in the police force and the justice system. Others, particularly those who haven't taken part in the protests, say news organizations have produced a warped portrait of Ferguson, a small city with middle-class homes and a historic shopping district. They're worried that reporters are here to document the next round of violence, if there is one, not the underlying problems. “Riot porn” is what Democratic committee member Patricia Bynes called it, referring to images of young black men with their shirts off, using them to guard their faces from tear gas. CNN anchors Don Lemon and Anderson Cooper said on Twitter that they had met secretly with police officer Darren Wilson to solicit an exclusive interview. It’s “a media circus,” said David Carson, a St. Louis Post-Dispatch photographer.