On August 9, 2014, Mike Brown was fatally shot by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MO.
Racial tensions erupted and people from the heavily black community poured into the streets to protest the Ferguson police.
The Ferguson population is over 67 percent black, according to data collected in 2010 by the U.S. Census Bureau.
After the riots started, larger media outlets flocked so they could catch wind of the story of the day.
Others traveled to Ferguson to protest police brutality against minorities, including four Ohio University students.
Ryant Taylor, a senior English major and student activist, was in that group.
Taylor and the other OU students participated in the “Weekend of Resistance,” which was a weekend-long protest in Ferguson put on by an organization called Hands Up United.
This group calls for the end of “state sponsored violence, including the excessive use of force by law enforcement,” according to the Hands Up United website.
After experiencing Ferguson in person, Taylor realized that the national media portrayed the issues “unfairly.”
“I think mainstream media, like CNN, and Fox News, etc., just painted a very distant picture,” Taylor said.
The larger news outlets seemed to only let very educated intellectuals put in their “two cents,” said Taylor.
“I think the mainstream media definitely failed. They concentrated on the looting, they concentrated on the violence there… that was not the larger narrative that was there,” said Taylor. “I think it reduced figures, like Mike Brown, to being thugs,”
Taylor felt he was being lied too by mainstream media because he wasn’t seeing the whole story.
However, when mainstream media networks travel to get the biggest story in the nation, things become “problematic,” according to Winsome Chunnu, the Ohio University Multicultural Center associate director.
Part of the reason why mainstream media outlets only cover large events, like the riots in Ferguson, are because of economic reasons, said Chunnu.
“If it’s a big story, and everyone is following it, they want to be there so they can get the viewers,” Chunnu said, explaining that viewers equal money from advertising, which employees of the media outlets are then paid with.
The mainstream media has moved on from the aftermath of the events in Ferguson, but this isn’t the first time stories haven’t been followed up, according to Cara Owsley.
Owsley, a photojournalist for the Cincinnati Enquirer, was a victim of Hurricane Katrina.
She was working as photojournalist for The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, LA, when the hurricane hit almost ten years ago. Owsley evacuated the city because she had a small child at the time, she said.
“Not only was I telling a story about the aftermath of Katrina, but I lost everything myself,” said Owsley, who returned weeks later.
The local journalists “watched mainstream media journalists come in, do a story, and leave,” which Owsley said irritated them because they were telling the story while living it.
Over 67 percent of the New Orleans population was black according to census data from 2000. With such a large black population, minority issues were everyday life and local media covered them fairly.
Local newspapers are important because they follow up on big events like Ferguson and Hurricane Katrina, Owsley said.
Owsley, Chunnu, and Taylor, all agreed that having a diverse staff helps news outlets when covering issues that affect minorities.
Local publications staffed by Ohio University students struggle to diversify the newsroom because Athens is a very white town, said Jaelynn Grisso, the editor-in-chief of The New Political.
She would like to see more diversity at her publication, but said it would not reflect Athens.