South Salem student journalist becomes daily chronicler of protests

Eddy Binford-Ross, a junior at South Salem High School, photographs the March for Floyd on Saturday, June 6. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

As editor in chief of South Salem High School’s news operation, Eddy Binford-Ross believes that it’s her calling and her responsibility to report on every anti-racism protest held in Salem.

“At this moment our world is changing at the grass roots level because it’s seeing the outrage against blatant police brutality and the systemic racism throughout our society,” the 17-year-old junior said.

“It’s super important to provide an historical account of what’s happening in Salem because cable news stations and newspapers like the New York Times have no boots on the ground here so the community has to rely on local journalism.”

She has become a fixture at Salem protests ­– and for her online accounts as the events unfolded day by day, night by night.

Binford-Ross, who is the only student reporter from her school covering the protests, posts her stories and photos on the school’s newspaper website, clypian.com. She also sends out tweets, has a Podcast and puts information up on Facebook and Instagram.

She primarily blames the lack of community coverage on the deep staffing cuts the Statesman Journal that have made it “hard for the paper to cover these types of events.”

Her desire to keep the public informed often forces her to remain on the scene of rallies until their conclusion, sometimes working into the early morning hours.

Because her stories and photos draw so much readership, “I will cover the protests or other types of activism as long as I can until we see a change in the system,” she said.

Binford-Ross is heartened that changes are on the way here because Salem police appear at the protests in their regular uniforms rather than in riot gear. She noted that Salem Police Chief Jerry Moore publicly addressed an issue seen in a video that showed an officer telling a group of armed civilians guarding a downtown business how to avoid being caught up in a curfew.

Binford-Ross made a choice to cover the protests and not march in them for an important reason.

“My job is to support and not lead,” she said. “I’m not a voice on the front lines because I recognize that I benefit from white privilege so I am an ally in supporting people of color so I do what’s asked of me.”

Binford-Ross comes by her passion for activism partly because her parents are politically involved.

At home the family, which includes 10-year-old sister Frances, enjoys following current events and discussing politics.

Her mother, Warren Binford, runs the clinical law program at Willamette University, and her father, Chris Ross, operated a preschool at the A.C. Gilbert House and now teaches at Heritage School, a private elementary and middle school.

Binford-Ross, who attended that school through the eighth grade, said she arranged for her mother to teach a civics class because the school didn’t offer one.

Once in high school, Binford-Ross wanted to make a difference so she joined a group looking to find ways to prevent teen suicide. She’s also demanding action on climate change, saying that she was inspired by Greta Thunberg, the then 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist.

Binford-Ross also likes to read, backpack, travel, and ride her horse, Duke.

After graduating from South Salem, Binford-Ross isn’t sure where she will go to school. She can attend Willamette University at no cost because her mother works there but she’s considering school on the East Coast.

She’s also undecided about a career.

She had been leaning toward studying public policy and working in government, “but covering these protests may make me reconsider and choose a career in journalism. I go back and forth.”

Whatever she does, she will be a success, said Brian Eriksen, her broadcast and journalism teacher at South.

“She’s a true leader in the classroom, and she does a great job as a junior in news production. She leads by quiet example,” he said.

As a testimony to her enthusiasm and capability, Eriksen said tongue in cheek that “she will rule the world one of these days.”

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