When The Washington Post wanted local perspective on the publication of leaked reports from the autopsy of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., they turned to community newspaper editor Chris King.
King is managing editor of The St. Louis American, the largest weekly newspaper in Missouri and one of the best African-American newspapers in the U.S. Over the last two weeks, he has been an outspoken critic of the Post and The New York Times, both of which published the autopsy leaks in late October. The leaks seem to suggest that Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Brown in August, will not face criminal charges. The protests and riots touched off by Brown’s shooting have received international media attention.
King told the Los Angeles Times a law enforcement source had offered him the autopsy reports, but he decided not to run them. In the Post article, King was quoted as saying he suspected the publication of the leaks could touch off more violence on the streets of Ferguson, an idea that was echoed in an American editorial the same week. That editorial read, in part:
The Times and Post ran with this anonymous third-party hearsay regarding a high-stakes case that has our entire region on edge. Tensions are so high that preparations for riots, if Wilson walks free, are discussed in sober terms in local and national media and on street corners. The editors of these powerful publications have shown a lapse in judgment and ethics that is not only shameful, but actually dangerous.
This week the American covered protesters upset with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s publication of the leaked autopsy details.
Aggressive reporting and public commentary on matters such as the leaked autopsy reports are nothing new for the American. The newspaper has provided pointed, comprehensive coverage of the social unrest in Ferguson, Mo., since Brown’s shooting.