It's been 101 days since Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson fatally shot unarmed black teen Michael Brown, but the media covering the story still have a lot to learn about St. Louis.
Back in the early days of unrest and protest, outsider news outlets struggled to explain the complicated sociopolitical and geographic oddities that St. Louisans are used to: divided city and county governments, a bevy of teensy-tiny county municipalities, Provel cheese. But months later, few seem to have learned their lesson.
CNN has been one of the most egregious offenders in bending St. Louis' truths to fit its national scope. Last week, when Governor Jay Nixon held a press conference in Weldon Spring, CNN's dateline said its crew was reporting from "near Ferguson, Missouri." That's stretching the truth a little far for St. Louisans, who know that Weldon Spring and Ferguson are about 25 miles apart, separated by the Missouri River and the St. Louis-St. Charles County line.
Later, the anchor hosting CNN's coverage asked a clueless talking head why Ferguson voters hadn't turned out in larger numbers to vote out polarizing prosecuting attorney Bob McCulloch, who is handling the grand jury investigation into Wilson. (The reason? McCulloch ran unopposed.)
But things got confusing Sunday when the wire service Reuters published a story about nonviolent protests in the Delmar Loop. At the protest, demonstrators marched from the MetroLink to Delmar and Skinker boulevards, eventually stopping in front of the Tivoli Theatre where mock police "killed" protesters and outlined their bodies in chalk in the street. Later, protesters moved down to Skinker Boulevard and Forest Park Parkway, stopping traffic and holding a four-and-a-half-minute silent vigil in honor of Michael Brown, whose body stayed in the streets for more than four hours after his death.
Like most other media outlets, Reuters was on hand to cover the demonstrations. Here's Reuters' headline: Protesters stage peaceful 'die-in' in downtown St. Louis.
And from the story:
Dozens of people lay down in the street outside of a downtown theater hosting a film festival, pretending to have been shot by other protests playing the role of police officers in an action intended to evoke the memory of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who died 100 days ago in front of his home in the suburb of Ferguson, Missouri.
But no, the protests didn't happen at all in "downtown St. Louis." The "die-in" in front of the Tivoli Theatre didn't even really happen in St. Louis. The protest happened in the Delmar Loop, the main drag of nearby municipality University City named for the trolley cars that used to turn around there.
It's easy to mistake U. City for another St. Louis city neighborhood, but that's where Daily RFT draws the line.
Confusing U. City for downtown St. Louis just seems lazy. Downtown St. Louis is where the Gateway Arch and Busch Stadium are. It's filled with sky-scraping towers. There's a river there. In fact, it's probably where your hotel is tonight, Mr. Reporter on Assignment.
C'mon, Reuters, this isn't that hard.
@sarahkendzior not to be a jerk, but it's Day 100. You should know the difference between St. Louis and St. Louis County by now.— Jason Rosenbaum (@jrosenbaum) November 16, 2014
Maybe it's time for Daily RFT to make a map of St. Louis according to the national and international media. See another glaring error from out-of-state reporters? Send it my way: [email protected]
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