Why are no local outlets represented in ONA’s Ferguson keynote?

September 4, 2014
Category: Uncategorized


The Online News Association announced its keynote address on Thursday for ONA14, which begins in Chicago on Sept. 25. “Ferguson Revisited” will feature journalists who reported from Ferguson, including St. Louis reporter Mariah Stewart, whose Huffington Post/Beacon Reader fellowship came from her coverage of Ferguson.

But there’s no one on the panel from any St. Louis media shops.

Along with Stewart, the panel includes The Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery, Trymaine Lee from MSNBC, and Claire Ward from VICE News. NPR’s Michel Martin is moderating.

From ONA:

At ONA14, with these events fresh in our minds, we’ll begin the process of analyzing the ongoing coverage with a diverse panel of national and local reporters, from news outlets both established and emerging. Participants will engage in a candid discussion of what it’s like to report on a tragedy with so many competing symbolic angles, how events in Ferguson relate to ongoing national discussions about race relations in cities across the country and how media might responsibly report on them.

Jane McDonnell, executive director of ONA, wrote in an email that there’s a reason ONA selected the people on the panel.

“Much of this session will intentionally focus on what it was like for media — legacy, new and non-affiliated — outside of the area to come into a community during a time of terrific stress, which is happening more and more,” McDonnell wrote. “What were reactions, misconceptions? What would you have done differently? We think there a lot of lessons to be learned on all sides.”

And Stewart is local, McDonnell points out.

“But the real reason we thought Mariah invaluable to the conversation is that HuffPo offered her a year-long fellowship to ensure local coverage of the town would continue long after the national media left.”

I’ve maintained a Twitter list of journalists covering Ferguson and St. Louis from Ferguson since the day after Michael Brown’s death. Many national journalists have left town, and while they’re still reporting on Ferguson, the list itself has transformed into one focusing on St. Louis-based journalists. Many of them are also still reporting on Ferguson.