Two journalists and a St. Louis alderman will host a free public forum in Tucker Theater on Feb. 10 to discuss the reporting process behind the death of Michael Brown and the riots following.
David Carson, a photographer and videographer will join USA Today reporter Yamiche Alcindor and St. Louis alderman Antonio French in addressing the way the events were covered on the frontlines. The discussion is expected to revolve around the issue of First Amendment rights in regard to covering riots in the area.
The discussion is presented by the John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment studies, housed in the John Bragg Mass Communication building. This is the first event the program has hosted this semester.
The three also will provide firsthand insights into the media coverage and criminal justice aspects of such a volatile, high-profile news story.
Carson, a Boston native and veteran international photographer, has worked at the Post-Dispatch since 2000. Carson was knocked to the ground by a blow to the head from Ferguson protestors during one of their confrontations with police. His photos of Ferguson have been seen in the Post-Dispatch and in national and international media outlets.
French, a community activist who is serving his second term as city alderman, has been part of Ferguson’s peacekeeping force as well as one of the most active social media reporters through updates and short videos via Twitter. He was arrested for unlawful assembly in the early days of the Ferguson protests and opened a community outreach center after Brown’s death, only to see it catch fire from an adjacent building following the grand jury decision.
Alcindor is a staff reporter for USA Today as a part of a breaking news team nationally. She has covered the Boston Marathon bombing, Sandy Hook shooting and George Zimmerman’s trial in Florida.
In Ferguson, Alcindor was embedded with the St. Louis County Police Department’s Tactical Operations unit. From there, she covered the protests in the streets outside St. Louis and worked with the Brown family for comment after the grand jury’s “no indictment” ruling.
“The Ferguson story, in many ways, parallels the Freedom Rides during the civil rights movement of the early 1960s, something John Seigenthaler was intimately involved with as a Justice Department aide in the Kennedy administration,” Pat Embry, director of the Seigenthaler Chair, said.
The Seigenthaler Chair is named for iconic journalist John Seigenthaler and his commitment to free expression and First Amendment rights. The program was created in 1986 and hosts activities such as lectures, research and seminars on the subject across campus.
The program is also host to the Seigenthaler News Service which provides hands-on experience for aspiring journalists.
“First Amendment rights of freedom of speech, of the press, of the rights to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances all have come into play in Ferguson and elsewhere in the country,” Embry said. “Police, protestors and the press have an ongoing stake in protecting our civil rights while at the same time preserving the peace.”
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