Inside The Washington Post’s makeshift Ferguson newsroom
Guests with cocktails and coffee sit in the dim lobby of the Marriott St. Louis Airport Hotel late on Thursday afternoon. A man tunes his guitar near the check-in desk. Men in khakis and polos roll their carry-on luggage out to the waiting shuttle.
There's also a newsroom here, on the third floor, even though it's really a conference room with a long table lined with chairs. On that long table sits an open chocolate bar, empty water bottles, a pack of notebooks, open laptops, tangled cords and a gas mask.
Around the table today sit Krissah Thompson, Chico Harlan, Kimberly Kindy, Lee Powell and Wesley Lowery. The paper has a rotation of about 10 people on the story, Thompson says. Many will head back onto West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Missouri, tonight.
Thompson started as an intern at the Post in 2001, and she's seen her newsroom mobilize to cover major stories since - the Virginia Tech shooting, the shooting at Fort Hood, and Ferguson.
"You see the force of the place when it's an all-hands-on-deck kind of thing."
That's true here in St. Louis, too. Covering the shooting, riots, protests and the community as events unfolded in Ferguson almost two weeks ago isn't something you can do with just one or two people, Thompson says, and it isn't something you can do from a distance.
That means deploying journalists from all over the newsroom, like Thompson, who writes for Style, or Harlan, who was the paper's East Asia bureau chief. Kindy writes about government accountability. Lowery covers Capital Hill. Powell is a video reporter. Many of them have never worked together.
"I've met more colleagues in the last three days than in six years at the Post," Harlan says. "It's nice not to be on my own island anymore."
And by bringing people from different departments, the stories those people find and tell reflect that, he says.
Harlan wrote about a former Ferguson resident who started feeding people on West Florissant Avenue at night.
Thompson found local hip-hop artists channeling the story through music.
Here's Powell's video with Thompson's story:
The staff here will stay through Monday, at least, to cover Michael Brown's funeral, Thompson says.
"It doesn't feel like a story that we're abandoning any time soon."