While events in Ferguson, MO unfolded, many journalists highlighted what they saw as the militarization of the police force, predominately with regards to the equipment at their disposal. One could make the argument that the environment which cultivated subsequent events began to resemble a militarized zone as well, especially with regards to how the acting authority controlled where reporters could or could not go.
When journalists were deployed alongside armed forces when the USA invaded Iraq in 1990, “military personnel established what has become an increasingly extensive and rigid set of rules concerning where war reporters can go and what they can report, to ultimately control the flow of information and hence public opinion about war. By the time the USA invaded Iraq again in 2003, the military had perfected their control of the media (Luther & Miller, 2005).” Have these same policies trickled into civil government?
Ferguson doesn’t carry the same weight as a zone of crisis including armed deployment oversea’s, though there are parallels between the treatment of journalists in said areas of conflict. In Ferguson, reporters were physically removed from public and private businesses while others were arrested and held, only to be released with no charges filed, all in an attempt to control the flow of information and hence public opinion. In some instances, the police even fired gas canisters at journalists as they were reporting in the field.
When public opinion is already against one’s efforts in maintaining order, shouldn’t the acting authority encourage unhindered access for journalists?