Understanding how (and why) news travels in the modern age through the lens of an American tragedy.
On Aug. 13 Twitter exploded with activity.
As Kriston Capps of The Atlantic hypothesizes, it happened around the time when news of two journalists – Ryan J. Reilly of The Huffington Post and Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post – who were arrested at a local McDonalds for “noncooperation”, started spreading.
The police force that arrested them was from Ferguson, Missouri. The reporters were there covering the story of Michael Brown who was gunned down after resisting arrest for jaywalking. He was 18-years-old, Africans-American, and unarmed.
Shades of the 2012 Trayvon Martin case were present within the Michael Brown story. Sensing the next big story, the American news media descended upon the working-class town in droves. While Ferguson hadn’t become “The Story” quite yet, many cable news outlets and newspapers started to report from Ferguson hoping they weren’t left behind when the Michael Brown story became part of the American consciousness.
Then August 13 happened.
The above map was created by Twitter in which they geotagged the tweets that had the #Ferguson attached to them over a 24-hour period. Within these tweets other hashtags started to trend.
Then came the pictures.
Images of Ferguson Police wearing bullet-proof vests with assault rifles and armored vehicles that looked like they belonged in Iraq rather than on US soil started to make the rounds. Older photos of vigils being held for Brown while the police showing up with dogs and tear gas being thrown in what seemed to be peaceful protests started to surface as well.
This all happened because what’s happening Ferguson is an important story. It’s not just about another African-American male suspect being on the wrong end of suspected police brutality (although it’s also about that). It’s a story about race, the policing in America, the socio-economic disparity of working-class communities, and so much more.
#Ferguson is a story worth spreading.
It’s also important to remind you that this all started to happen on August 13.
What the map above represents is a visualization of how news flows in the modern age of Twitter and Facebook. The map, to many in the media, shows how fast information can disseminate to the masses in a blink of an eye when an important story like Ferguson comes along.
For us it’s a thing of beauty.
The tragedy here. It came at the cost of something much, much uglier in our American society.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images, Twitter)