The video documenting the killing of George Floyd by police officers could not be more disturbing. He is handcuffed and pinned down by a Minneapolis police officer while three others look on. The officer’s knee digs deep into Floyd’s neck as he cries that he can’t breathe. He calls out for his mother, and then, he dies.
The event may prove a watershed moment in US history.
But for Black journalists covering this story it’s nothing new. It’s the latest in a long line of such videos that grab headlines for a time and are then largely forgotten as the news cycle moves on and nothing changes.
Journalists are trained to shed light on stories and to report the experiences of people. But when Black journalists are watching videos of Black people being killed at the hands of white police officers, when they are telling stories of people being accosted for driving while Black, walking while Black and jogging while Black, they are telling their own stories.
Black journalists have said that doing their jobs at this time is “exhausting,” that they are “carrying a unique burden”, living in a “special kind of hell” and “covering a storm that never passes. Ultimately, one said, what they are doing every day amounts to “screaming into the void”
In this episode of The Stream, we discuss the emotional toll of being a Black journalist in the US and the impact of covering viral videos of Black death.