In the next four days or so, more than likely, a Grand Jury in Ferguson, Missouri will probably decide not to indict a white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man back in August.
The TV networks have already sent correspondents back to the scene in anticipation of the upheaval that is expected to take place in Ferguson the night of the announcement.
The networks, cable outlets, radio networks, internet news outlets are already staked outside the courthouse waiting for the inevitable. They won't directly say it but they expect violence and mayhem in the streets. Rioting. The police and National Guard are already in position and waiting too. A virtual media village is readily seen as evidenced on the Sunday talk shows.
Here in the Bay Area, there's already TV presence in Oakland even though there's been no indication that trouble might be brewing anytime soon. This is a recipe for disaster. This is where common sense and responsibility is trumped by a thirst for sensationalism and visuals.
Come announcement day, protesters, the legitimate passionate, loud, but peaceful throng will make speeches and express their anger and resentment toward the decision of the Grand Jury. You'll probably see little of them because they don't present good TV pictures. As nightfall nears, news choppers will buzz overhead and a bunch of black-bandanna-wearing anarchists with masks and armed with spray-paint cans and bars will emerge from BART trains--90% of these fools don't even live in Oakland --but will come out and start breaking windows and making trouble. That's when the TV news choppers will do their thing and breathless reporters begin their "reporting."
I'm assuming this scenario plays out--I hope I'm wrong. I'm hoping for a lot of things. I'm hoping that, as expected, the Grand Jury no-indictment decision will not spark any violence in Ferguson or cities across the nation like NY, Boston, Los Angeles, SF and most especially, Oakland. But like many, I'm not entirely optimistic.
I'm hoping too, that the TV people here, show some responsibility in their coverage. They don't have a very good track record. That they cover 50 or so odd hooligans bent on using the Ferguson decision to inflict violence and mayhem in Oakland is not right. It's one thing to cover the rioting and mayhem when there's significant numbers; like if there are hundreds or few thousands of protesters starting fires and confronting police; uncivil disobedience. That's news, albeit unpleasant, but it's news. A rat pack of anarchists, few in number, should be shunned by mainstream news outlets but that's hardly been the case in Oakland.
I would hope that the people who make these calls of just how they cover the impending week in Oakland would show some degree of caution and restraint. Most of the anarchists don't even know Mike Brown from Buster Brown and are using this tragedy to make trouble. Furthermore, the fact they know they will get coverage from media here, no matter how trivial they are, speaks volumes about news judgment, or lack of it.
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