Editor's Weekly

Rotary Club of Overland mug
Margaret Wolf Freivogel

It was still dark when the Rotary Club of Overland gathered Wednesday morning at Russo’s restaurant on Page. At a time when north St. Louis County is in the international spotlight for what’s wrong, the meeting cast a sliver of light on what’s right.

In the months since Michael Brown’s death at the hands of then-Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, North County has been at the center of a debate of cosmic proportions. It concerns long-simmering, wide-ranging issues of race, fairness and opportunity.

(St. Louis Public Radio file photo)

Think what you will of the proposal to spend at least $860 million on a new football stadium, the announcement last week revealed a few telling things about St. Louis:

Rams media

Discussion of Ferguson-related issues continued to simmer this week. Meanwhile, questions about the Rams’ future boiled into prominence.

Oddly, the two conversations are happening mostly in isolation from each other, even though both revolve around the same fundamental concern: How to create a future for our region that will make St. Louisans want to stay and newcomers want to come?

Demonstrators calling for justice for Eric Garner and Michael Brown held a moment of silence outside the Fox Theatre on Sunday, December 7, 2014.
Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

The grand jury has made its decision. Thanksgiving is over. Christmas is approaching. And still, Ferguson-related protests continue.

This week, they materialized outside “Annie” at the Fox, in Jennings and in several other cities. Many St. Louisans are wondering when the unrest will end.

You can’t answer that question without asking others. What do protesters want? Who speaks for them? Who holds the power to solve the problems they raise? None of these perfectly logical questions has an easy answer.

News producer and weekend newscaster Camille Phillips, health reporter Durrie Bouscaren, race and culture reporting fellow Emanuele Berry, and arts and culture reporter Willis Arnold.
Photos provided by the journalists

Next week marks the one-year anniversary of a big change at St. Louis Public Radio. It transformed our work, but you may not know how.

So let’s celebrate the merger of St. Louis Public Radio and the St. Louis Beacon by considering why it matters. It’s simple. At a time when news media are undergoing historic upheaval and when news coverage of St. Louis has never mattered more, the merger has enabled us to serve you better.

Shells of used cars are all that remain after they were destroyed by fire during a night of turmoil in Ferguson Nov. 25.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

The bleak reality of St. Louis this Thanksgiving casts the holiday in shadows deeper than any I can recall – save one other year.

Those shadows harbor our region’s flaws – recent and longstanding, absurd and epic, unwitting and unforgivable. Since Aug. 9, these shortcomings have been on display in stark silhouette against the unrelenting spotlight of international media attention.

Ferguson public safety press conference, 11-11-14. Belmar, Dotson, Ron Johnson, Isom, Bret Johnson, Replogle
(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

St. Louisans may disagree on many things related to Michael Brown’s death, but we’ve been united in anxiety during the long wait for a St. Louis County grand jury’s decision on whether to charge Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

When? What then? How will that affect each of us immediately and all of us long term? These questions have been hanging over everyone — from those directly involved in the protest or law enforcement to those who live far from Ferguson and see no direct connection to the issues raised there.

Protest at Steve Stenger's election party
Chris McDaniel | St. Louis Public Radio

Tuesday’s election would be boring. Vote anyway. That’s what I said last week. But election night turned out to be anything but boring. And so many voters turned out in St. Louis County that a fifth of the polling places ran out of paper ballots.

Vote here sign
File photo | Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

Imagine a split screen view of St. Louis. In one image, events in Ferguson are driving intense interest in a daunting array of community issues. They can’t be resolved without leadership from elected officials. In the other image, candidates are running for office in an election Tuesday that has attracted almost no interest.

What’s wrong with this picture? In a democracy, voters hold the ultimate power. Yet many citizens are having a hard time seeing what difference their votes will make.

At the Michael Brown memorial in mid-August
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

How much news coverage of Ferguson is too much?

Judging from the unscientific sampling of opinion I’ve heard over the last two months, St. Louisans have starkly different answers to that question. Some are fed up. Others think news organizations are only beginning to pay appropriate attention to police-community tensions, African American experiences and issues of racial disparity.

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