Politico’s media reporter Dylan Byers is calling for some perspective in the press coverage of the events in Ferguson, Mo. following the Wednesday arrests of the Huffington Post’s Ryan Reilly and the Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery.
In a blog post published Thursday, Byers lamented the growing comparisons between Ferguson — which has resembled a war zone this week following the fatal police shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown — and hot spots such as Baghdad.
Byers also noted the differing reactions to the arrest of Reilly and Lowery and that of a rank-and-file protestor.
The arrests of Lowery and Reilly gave way to a different kind of overreaction among members of the media. First, the outpouring of indignation among the press over their colleagues’ arrest was radically disproportional. Average citizens had been arrested with little-to-no outcry from the folks back in New York and Washington. That’s not surprising: reporters have bigger microphones, and journalists are especially sensitive to attacks on their own. Arresting a law-abiding reporter is seen as an attack on the First Amendment, and an affront akin to firing on the Red Cross. (At the Post, Brian Fund argues that social media resulted in the reporters’ quick release.) But you can rest assured that the average protester’s arrest wouldn’t draw such an outcry.
Byers wrote that “Lowery and Reilly did Ferguson a great service,” but also insisted that the two journalists “aren’t heroes.”
“Lowery and Reilly deserve recognition for their reporting efforts,” he wrote, “but getting arrested at a McDonald’s does not a great reporter make.”
Reilly and Lowery have both made the media rounds following their temporary detainment. Their arrest even spawned a public feud after MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough accused them of trying to “get on TV.”
“Well, I would invite Joe Scarborough to come down to Ferguson and get out of 30 Rock where he’s sitting and sipping his Starbucks smugly,” he said during a Thursday morning appearance on CNN.