You may have seen our story of two photojournalists being arrested during Strip protests of George Floyd’s killing.
This is not a story we would ordinarily cover, so let me explain why we did.
Generally, we leave demonstrations and protests to media organizations with the staff and resources to do them right. The Review-Journal has some superb reporters and photographers to handle these stories, and TV stations obviously can capture what print or online publications often miss.
It is not what we do. We sent an intern to the Strip on Friday for the work experience; that was the end of it.
Or it was until we learned from social media that two journalists had been arrested. Considering the arrest on live TV of a CNN crew, police firing rubber bullets at a crew in Louisville and a Fox News reporter being pummeled and chased from a demonstration in D.C., I saw it as a moral imperative to find out what had happened to our colleagues in Las Vegas.
We were careful. We did not take all the nonsense and speculation on social media and simply regurgitate it. We were not there when the arrests occurred, and these types of stories are often covered -- and commented on -- without nuance. We took our time, and Daniel Rothberg did a lot of question-asking and reporting before we published.
I think journalists sometimes forget how difficult it is for the police to do their critical jobs, especially with a horde of angry protesters who could and sometimes do turn violent in the blink of an eye. Metro officers were injured last night. But I also know that cops often have no regard for journalists who are doing a critical job, too, including covering these kinds of protests.
I’m not sure what happened on the Strip on Friday evening, but I am certain that no journalists should have been arrested. There are almost no circumstances under which arrests would be acceptable -- although, of course, I acknowledge that journalists could behave badly on very rare occasions in such situations.
Though we will always try to cover important issues and the larger stories at play, especially one about deeper societal issues, I am not interested in writing about the predictable left vs. right reaction, the reflexive taking of sides. But I am very interested in what is happening in Nevada, once known as “The Mississippi of the West” and where racism remains imbued despite some high-profile African-American elected officials with remarkable stories to tell.
We realize, especially as we inch toward the eve of the most important boulevard in Nevada reopening, that we have to be vigilant and cannot ignore the potential consequences of these protests. The country is a tinderbox this weekend, so we are sending people to protests today in Reno (Tabitha Mueller, @tabitha_mueller on Twitter) and Las Vegas (Daniel Clark, @DanJClarkPhoto.) But we simply cannot cover every one. We will be judicious, and we will continue to do what we do best:
Present deeply reported stories about issues that matter to Nevadans. Thanks, as always, for reading, and feel free to email me at [email protected] with any questions or comments.