On Tuesday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch launched “Ferguson,” a project that brings together nearly six months of coverage since police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown on Aug. 9. The project gathers content from the Post-Dispatch into several categories, including “The Shooting,” “Protests,” “Policing,” “Civil Rights” and “Solutions.” From the introduction:
The killing of an 18-year-old black teen by a white police officer on a street in Ferguson was the spark that ignited years of frustration, distrust and anger. Protests of the killing of Michael Brown, fueled by social media, continued for weeks. Days were filled with marches and meetings, nights devolved into confrontations with police. New issues emerged to be explored, debated. Fervor ebbed, then exploded anew when a second, and third police shooting occurred. Protests moved into Clayton, the Shaw neighborhood, St. Louis University, downtown. A night of arson and looting followed the announcement that a grand jury would not indict the police officer. Protests spread across the nation. Here, from the epicenter, is the story of Ferguson.
“We wrote hundreds of stories and took hundreds of photos on the shooting of Michael Brown and the protests that followed,” said Jean Buchanan, assistant managing editor/projects, in an email. “Concurrent with the events, we organized our coverage by the day it happened, but as the weeks and months went by, we knew that was not ideal. We wanted to provide a map for people who were coming fresh to our coverage and for those who wanted to dig deeper into the story. Also, we wanted a place where the story could continue to live as events unfold.”
The sections include an overview, links to essential reading, more stories, videos and photos. The categories are also broad enough to acknowledge that the story isn’t just about something that happened one day in Ferguson. They include “Other Shootings,” “Muni Courts” and “Outreach.”
I asked Buchanan if anything surprised her about collecting everything in one place. The number of stories? The number of subjects?
“I wasn’t surprised by the volume; it was more being overwhelmed by it,” she said. “How do you begin to organize so much material?”
Looking back, she did see areas that needed more coverage, she said.
“But I don’t want to second-guess what we did. Everyone was working full throttle for weeks. It was rare to have time to think about things.”