MTSU’s Ferguson Discussion Gives Students Inside Look

St. Louis Post photographer David Carson, St. Louis Alderman Antonio French and USA Today breaking news reporter Yamiche Alcindor speak at MTSU on Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 about their experience covering the Ferguson protests last year. They were moderated by former Nashville Banner editor and MTSU Seigenthaler Chair Pat Embry. (MTSU Sidelines/Samantha Hearn)

by Savanna Hazlewood // Contributing Writer

The John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies presented an examination of the role of the First Amendment and the challenges of reporting in last summer’s Ferguson, Missouri shooting in MTSU’s Tucker Theatre on Tuesday night.

The lecture featured St. Louis Post-Dispatch photographer and videographer David Carson, St. Louis 21st Ward Alderman Antonio French and USA Today reporter Yamiche Alcindor, who have been covering the story since its beginning. Each panelist provided his or her first-hand account of the events that occurred in the weeks after Michael Brown’s death, the media coverage and the criminal justice system in relation to this case.

Some professors offered extra credit to their students for attending; however, a multitude of students attended the lecture without prompting – interested in hearing about the incident from another perspective.

“I actually found out about the incident on Twitter, and I have been watching the Ferguson trials since the beginning,” Kelly Richardson, a freshman political science major, said of the event. “I remember following Antonio French two days after [the incident] and watching the live-stream, so it was really great seeing and hearing him talk about his experiences there.”

Freshman Dania Fant, 18, noted that attending the lecture really helped solidify her decision to major in Public Relations.

“It made me appreciate Public Relations even more,” Fant said. “I saw how the journalists, reporters, and photographers got out there – they weren’t afraid to actually go to the scenes and be seen in Ferguson. Not a lot of people do that, they like to stay safe behind their desks.”

John Seigenthaler’s brother Bob even attended the lecture.

“I was really impressed with the three panelists,” Seigenthaler said. “David Carson is almost old-school in his approach to photojournalism. His comments about how he handled the threats from the man with the hood who asked what he was doing at the store being looted showed just how gutsy he really is.”

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