Last night I was in Ferguson, MO.
I was dryly joking the other day that last week I had never heard of Ferguson, MO and Robin Williams was getting ready to film Mrs. Doubfire 2. I miss last week.
But this week things have changed and when I checked Twitter in the evening I was getting all kinds of stuff about a crazily militarized police force in Ferguson. So I went to CNN and they were talking about Lauren Bacall. I went to many major news sites. Only MSNBC had current reporting going on. So I watched some of that while continuing to check Twitter and follow reporters on the scene. Then I hit a link to a live streaming feed from the front line of the protest and felt like I was a witness to the whole thing. I saw the people holding hands and raising hands and shouting. I saw a police force that had better armor than the 2003 Iraq invasion forces pointing high caliber rifles into the crowd. I heard the painful sirens they set off to disburse the crowd before the started in with the shock bombs, tear gas, rubber bullets. There had been not looting this night. There was a claim that someone had thrown glass bottles at the police. I didn’t see that but even if they had they had enough protection. The response was disproportionate.
But all that aside, it was the way I was finding out about this that was the most interesting. I’m not saying getting your information from Twitter is the best solution. There was quite a bit of speculation and random, unchecked retweeting. But it became pretty clear who were the reputable news gatherers. Those journalist tweeters along with the amateur (but relatively well-done, under the circumstances) livestreamer took me places I couldn’t get from any other source at the time. Heck, they were rounding up the journalists with everyone else, so that was one reason for the lack of official news feeds, I’m sure.
This isn’t the first time I’ve gotten my news this way. The last one I recall was during Wendy Davis’ filibuster of the Texas Senate that went late into the night last year and didn’t seem important enough for the so-called 24-hour news networks to follow.
I feel bad, though. If these reporters are working for these papers and other outlets and I’m just following them on Twitter, how is that sustainable? I want to help out but I don’t want to buy a paper. I guess I’ll just go to their websites and look at ads for awhile. Maybe that will help?