Missouri’s Teacher of the Year has had some painful learning experiences of his own in recent weeks.
Hazelwood West High school teacher Chris Holmes helped develop a program that has helped at-risk students find the hope and confidence they need to graduate. He sponsors a poetry club whose members engage in contests where they perform their own works.
But his main job is teaching journalism. Last month he went to Ferguson to gather ideas for his class. What he gathered on the first night of demonstrations and violence was a brick to the side of the head causing a wound that took six stitches to close.
He says a lot of people have asked how he thinks journalists have covered the Ferguson riots. He says the coverage shows the difference between journalism theory and the reality of the business, which sometimes is ugly. “At the time they are reporting on the truth that they see, however skewed it may seem once other facts come out…It may not look pretty as it comes out but we need people to do that,” he says.
Holmes says it’s necessary to ask if some things in Ferguson coverage were necessary, excessive, or even journalism. But he says his experience has given him a lot of material to discuss ethics, responsibility, and compassion in covering the news.