Forget real-time, on-the-ground reporting–if you really want Twitter success, get yourself arrested.
The two reporters who were detained by riot police Wednesday while covering the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri racked up tens of thousands of followers in the aftermath.
Washington Post wunderkind Wesley Lowery went from 25,598 followers on Tuesday to 73,907 on Wednesday, and as of Friday afternoon he was just shy of 100K. Huffington Post reporter Ryan Reilly had slightly less success, only growing from 24,926 to 33,312 by Friday afternoon.
The two had been working from a local McDonald’s when police in combat gear ordered the restaurant emptied. According to the Washington Post, the police assaulted and cuffed the two upon finding their exit somewhat sluggish.
“Ryan, tweet that they’re arresting me, tweet that they’re arresting me,” Lowery reportedly told Reilly–but his hands, too, were already cuffed.
— Matt Pearce (@mattdpearce) August 14, 2014
After his release a few hours later, Lowery tweeted this video of the interaction with a police officer leading up to the detainment:
Video of my arrest: http://t.co/baiYPQGfc7/s/ZHkX
— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) August 14, 2014
“I’m fine. But if this is the way these officers treat a white reporter working on a laptop who moved a little too slowly for their liking, I can’t imagine how horribly they treat others,” said Reilly after his release. “And if anyone thinks that the militarization of our police force isn’t a huge issue in this country, I’ve got a story to tell you.”
At least 75 people have been arrested in Ferguson since Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, on August 9.
“I get it, but everybody overdid the jailed journalist story,” said St. Louis American editorial director Chris King on Friday, explaining what he thought was the worst coverage of the shooting and subsequent riots and protests. The American is St. Louis’s historically black newspaper.
By contrast, former Daily Caller Deputy Editor Will Rahn gained twenty-four followers over the same period.