Local, national and world attention has been riveted on the St. Louis area after the Aug. 9 fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old man who was killed midday on a Saturday in Ferguson.
National and international media descended on our doorstep after a local story erupted, becoming the epicenter of a huge story. The frightening images distorted how local residents perceive their community.
Ferguson has not been portrayed in a way most people in this region would feel rings familiar. Heavily armored police equipped with paramilitary-style vehicles, armaments and body protection engaged in several nights of chaos, spraying tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper pellets among protesters on a busy thoroughfare in the historic suburb.
Local media across the board have stepped up to cover the quickly evolving developments over the last week.
News coverage of the Ferguson shooting aftermath provides a compelling case for journalists in our democratic, open society. And it serves as a powerful illustration of the indispensable role that newspapers and their digital editions serve in communities nationwide.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch distinguished itself with the most comprehensive coverage, offering depth, context and continuous timeliness in digital editions and social media.
Compelling photos from the volatile protest area were transmitted across the nation and world. Post-Dispatch videos, capturing the many angles of the story, were viewed in record numbers. The print editions were compendiums of well-designed and extensive coverage that will serve as a permanent archive of this historic event.
The editorial page took bold stances in editorials advocating immediate action. It presented a broad array of community voices with op-ed columns, letters to the editor and social media posts from Facebook and Twitter. Our community’s diverse voices were shared daily over multiple platforms in a way unique for local media.
The Post-Dispatch operates the largest local newsroom, with expertise and skills that exist year-round. When this huge news story broke, the entire newsroom engaged and performed extraordinarily for days.
There are too many Post-Dispatch journalists to name, all of whom made this exceptional coverage possible. Suffice to say, everyone flexed to work the extra hours or indirectly by changing shifts or filling different roles to enable the extensive coverage. It truly has been a newsroom-wide, team effort across the 24-hour news cycle.
Many local media moved full force to cover the Ferguson story. Twitter and Facebook were vibrating with a steady stream of posts of developments, photos, videos and story links to online sites, including many from Post-Dispatch reporters, photographers and editors.
Social media also were rife with rumors, speculation and outright misinformation. Post-Dispatch journalists have exercised sound news judgment on sources and photo usage, and vetted all information to ensure that we published verified content on all platforms.
I commend the Post-Dispatch reporters and photographers in the field along with the many editors, online editors, copy editors, page designers and graphic artists.
I would like to single out reporters Steve Giegerich and Jesse Bogan and photographers David Carson, Robert Cohen and J.B. Forbes for their valiant work when Ferguson was in chaos amid looting and vandalized buildings last Sunday night.
Carson and Giegerich were both physically attacked by the crowd during the dangerous looting on West Florissant Avenue, a typical suburban street usually occupied with shoppers at area businesses.
Another example of the extraordinary effort occurred last Wednesday morning when police critically wounded an armed man near the Ferguson protest site.
Night reporter Valerie Schremp Hahn was already home in bed when she was called about a police-involved shooting near the Ferguson protest site. She then reported on the shooting while working with editors Fred Ehrlich and Ron Wade to post the first story online early Wednesday.
The interest in Post-Dispatch coverage has spanned far beyond our local borders.
The 6.4 million page views on STLtoday.com on Monday, following the night of looting, eclipsed the previous record for daily online traffic by more than 2 million page views, according to Omniture tracking data.
The 4.3 million page views on Wednesday was the second-highest daily traffic for our website. The number of unique visitors on Monday and Wednesday each reached 1 million.
Views of online videos also set a record of more than 1 million for the week. About a quarter of those video views were seen through other news sites linking to STLtoday.com.
The Associated Press, the largest news wire service in the country, continues to include a direct link to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch website on its mobile news apps.
Media interview requests for our staff came from throughout the country and as far away as Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada.
We will be here when the outside satellite TV trucks and cable news anchors move on to the next story.
We live here, too. Post-Dispatch journalists will be here serving our community for a long time.