The news can sometimes be a weird business, especially in the age of viral distribution. The internet allows stories published by a small outlet like the Independent to be seen around the world, but our coverage usually sticks to intensely local topics of little interest to someone in, say, Brazil. We may win regional and statewide awards for investigative reporting and long-form journalism, but if a story does get national or international attention, it's typically because it involves some silly bear video or a snarky post about John Mayer.
That changed last Friday, when we published a first-person blog post by Migizi Pensoneau, a member of the 1491s comedy troupe and a regular Indy contributor. Migizi wrote about his experience working on a segment for "The Daily Show" about the offensiveness of the Washington Redskins' nickname. Prior to broadcast, the segment came under fire from Redskins fans who felt duped and wronged by producers. "The Daily Show" responded by airing an edited version. Migizi wrote about what ended up on the cutting room floor, including some appallingly racist and menacing behavior directed at him as he walked among the team's tailgaters.
"There were points during that hour-long experience where I actually was afraid for my life," Migizi wrote. "I have never been so blatantly threatened, mocked or jeered. It was so intense, so full of vitriol that none of the footage ended up being used in the segment."
Within an hour, the Indy's web traffic spiked. National outlets carried the piece through stories of their own or links on social media, including the Washington Post, CBS Sports, Sports Business Journal, Salon, Mediaite and others. MSNBC and HuffPost Live inquired about interview segments with Migizi. We received emails of support from Ireland, Chile and, yes, Brazil.
The global audience speaks to mounting interest in Washington's insulting nickname"South Park" aired its own episode last week skewering the team—and rising tension on both sides of the debate. It also answers a general curiosity surrounding what really happened during that edited "Daily Show" segment. But it starts with Migizi writing a brutally honest and revealing piece, one that leapt over Washington's stubborn owner and the embattled NFL suits who continue to block for him. The essay tackled the "wronged" fans themselves, and how hateful their blind allegiance looks beyond the guise of a football game. The only surprise is that it took a writer from Missoula to help finally get that point across.