Monday, January 26, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Tell the story, don’t be it

navarrette column sig

By
From page A7 | August 21, 2014 |

SAN DIEGO — Here are four tips for young reporters willing to learn from the mistakes of those caught up in the events of Ferguson, Missouri.

  • Learn how to cover a story without becoming the story.
  • If you want to express opinions, become an opinion writer. But as long as you’re a reporter, keep your opinions to yourself.
  • If you slip up and give your opinion, expect people to attack you. So develop a thick skin.
  • When there’s a riot and a police officer tells you to move, just move. Don’t debate, disobey and taunt the officer and get it on tape so you can tweet it or put it on your website. Do as he says. Because at that moment, although you may not want to admit it, his job is more important than yours. It has life-and-death consequences.

The last item comes from the fact that, aside from being a journalist, I am the son of a cop. That brings common sense.

With reporters being threatened, arrested, manhandled, berated, shot with rubber bullets and pelted with tear gas projectiles, it is tempting to declare that law enforcement officers in Ferguson are waging a war against the media.

Yet, even thinking this way shows that many reporters have lost their way in covering this story. They seem to think it’s all about them. Some protesters have figured that out, which is why many of them are now harassing and cursing at reporters – demanding, for instance, that journalists distinguish between residents concerned with police violence and outsiders intent on causing mayhem.

If there were a war by police against members of the media, it would certainly make for a good story – one that reporters would love to tell. This won’t come as news to most readers, but there is nothing that journalists like better than talking about themselves, their work or their industry.

The story is also believable given that the law enforcement contingent doing riot control – Ferguson police officers, St. Louis County sheriff’s deputies, Missouri Highway Patrol officers – has acted with reckless disregard for public safety. The fact that the officers are outfitted with military-style equipment, and that they’re being so heavy-handed with protesters, has only created more chaos. So has the fact that, until recently, there didn’t seem to be any strategy for dealing with the protests; the cops appeared to be making it up as they went along. As to where people could stand – the street, a sidewalk, a parking lot – to peacefully protest, the rules changed on a whim.

No wonder Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon called in the National Guard.

Yet, the trouble is – judging from much of what has been written, said, photographed and tweeted by journalists, along with protesters and onlookers on the scene – there doesn’t appear to be any evidence to back up the claim that officers are targeting journalists. The police in Ferguson seem to be treating journalists just as badly as they’re treating everyone else. No better, no worse.

This brings us to the heart of the issue. Some reporters are furious that they’re not getting special treatment as members of the media. Because they’re being accompanied by a cameraman, or have press credentials hanging around their necks, they expect deference from police officers.

No such luck.

Consider a recent episode involving CNN reporter and anchor Don Lemon. While doing a live shot for the network, Lemon and a crowd of maybe a dozen protesters were told by a police officer to move off the street and onto the sidewalk. The journalist complied but also objected, insisting that he and the crowd had been standing in the street for hours and no one had said anything to them.

“Now you see why people are so upset here,” Lemon said into the camera. “Because we have been here all day. . . . We’re on national television. So imagine what they are doing to people [who] you don’t see on national television, the people who don’t have a voice like we do.”

Those who “have a voice” should be careful not to say the wrong thing. Americans already have contempt for the media. Let’s not give them more reasons to feel that way.

Ruben Navarrette is a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Reach him at ruben@rubennavarrette.com.

Ruben Navarrette

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Teen finds entrepreneurial path at young age

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Time for Relay for Life kickoff event

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

 
Fairfield schedules workshop on downtown plan

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Suisun Senior Center offers monthly dance

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
 
Wedding Faire offers one-stop browsing for couples

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Crab feed tradition continues this week

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Local government agencies post meeting times

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
.

US / World

 
Millions of GMO insects could be released in Florida Keys

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Boy shot by Los Angeles deputies treated for graze wound

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
US gas prices fell 13 cents per gallon, but expected to rise

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

2 Marines identified in deadly California helicopter crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Santa Ana winds knock out power to thousands in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Obama to seek wilderness designation for Alaska refuge

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Navy wants to increase use of sonar-emitting buoys

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Boko Haram attacks northeastern Nigerian city, scores killed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Ukraine: Phone calls prove rebels attacked city, killed 30

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Zambia: Edgar Lungu sworn in as new president

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Greek radical left wins election, threatening market turmoil

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

‘Potentially historic’ storm headed for Northeast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Balloon crew launches in bid to break 2 major records

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Obama: Counterterrorism operations in Yemen not affected

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Zoo offers creepy way for lovelorn to get even with exes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
.

Opinion

Democracy or republic?

By Earl Heal | From Page: A8, 7 Comments

 
Editorial Cartoon: Jan. 26, 2015

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Do elected officials get it?

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 5 Comments

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: Jan. 26, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: Jan. 26, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Horoscope Jan. 27, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

 
My sister is jobless and homeless and I’m not sure how to help

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

 
Horoscope Jan. 26, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

.

Entertainment

TVGrid Jan 26

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
TVGrid Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Miss Colombia crowned Miss Universe in Miami

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

‘Birdman’ tops SAG Awards, Redmayne upsets Keaton

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Complete list of winners at 21st annual SAG Awards

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

.

Sports

Curry leads Warriors to 19th straight home win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
The Week Ahead: Plenty of action close to home

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1

Serena Williams to meet Cibulkova in Aussie Open quarters

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Watt gets 2 turnovers, dances in friendly Pro Bowl

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Tavares scores 4, Team Toews outscores Team Foligno, 17-12

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Coach K gets 1,000th win as No. 5 Duke tops St. John’s 77-68

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Quinn has led Seattle to record-setting defense

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Chip Ganassi Racing’s ‘star car’ wins Rolex 24 at Daytona

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

AP Explains: What makes the Super Bowl such a big deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Patriots’ Browner gets a 2nd chance at a Super Bowl ring

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Family attorney: Cubs great Ernie Banks died of heart attack

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Bill Haas pulls away to win Humana Challenge

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Jeff Gordon to be Fox guest analyst during XFINITY season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Sherman doubts any punishment ahead for Patriots

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
AP Source: Browns WR Josh Gordon fails another drug test

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

AP Interview: Selig says MLB could expand internationally

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Don Johnson

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 4 Comments

 
Thomas Clark

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Pickles Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Sally Forth Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Wizard of Id Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Rose is Rose Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Beetle Bailey Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Get Fuzzy Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Zits Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

B.C. Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

For Better or Worse Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Dilbert Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baby Blues Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Word Sleuth Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sudoku Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Cryptoquote Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Bridge Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Crossword Jan 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Baldo Jan 26

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Baby Blues Jan 26

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Rose is Rose Jan 26

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Sally Forth Jan 26

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Dilbert Jan 26

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Zits Jan 26

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Wizard of Id Jan 26

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Get Fuzzy Jan 26

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Beetle Bailey Jan 26

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Pickles Jan 26

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Garfield Jan 26

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

B.C. Jan 26

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
For Better or Worse Jan 26

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Peanuts Jan 26

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Frank and Ernest Jan 26

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Blondie Jan 26

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Cryptoquote Jan 26

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Bridge Jan 26

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Word Sleuth Jan 26

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Crossword Jan 26

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Sudoku Jan 26

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7