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Big TV inflamed the situation in Ferguson
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Like many of us, I feel changed by the events in Ferguson, Missouri leading up to and on Nov. 23 and afterward.

Yes, it’s embarrassing to us as a country; but also shameful for us who watched it live, and over and over again throughout the evening. All the broadcast pundits were there. (Well, most of them. If all the talking heads were in one place there would be no room for the story.)

The venerable Anderson Cooper in the snow (yes, his head does actually swivel around 360 degrees); Bill O’Reilly on his stool, Greta Van Sustren and Rachel Maddow; giant talking heads on our 65-inch video screens, slicing, dicing and filleting the events in Ferguson.

And all the intrepid, as I call them, the fresh young on-the -scene reporters who braved tear gas, rocks, bottles and epitaphs to earn their chops, reporting the action from inside the Thunderdome that was the Ferguson, Missouri they helped create. During the rioting one reporter clad in a net logoed jacket, narrated as he walked toward a flaming trashcan to confirm that it was, in fact, a flaming trash can. Earlier in the night, this same reporter delivered this gem to the audience at home: "Obviously, there is the smell of marijuana in the air as well. " Mom, Dad, I want to be a TV news reporter."

I remember where I was when I heard the Missouri Grand Jury announcement, as I remember well where I was on the passing of Lady Diana,  9/11, when John and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated, the Rodney King verdict, the news alert about John Lennon’s death and even the O.J. Simpson verdict. Each of these events are galvanizing lightning rods of American reflection, as is the Ferguson announcement.

I am a native Missourian, and at this point not too proud of my hometown. I grew up in Florissant, Missouri, about 5 miles from Ferguson, and could identify from the TV coverage the actual blocks I remember as a kid. The name Ferguson comes from Bill Ferguson who deeded 10 acres for a Wabash train station called, Ferguson Station. To see it on put on the world stage, I can’t help but think these recent past events will define the name Ferguson.

I don’t mean this as a history lesson but rather an indictment of the TV news media. “Experts have said” that at each advancement in electronic communication will make for “better news,” more “accurate news.” To me there’s just seems to be more of it, more networks, more channels, more portals to fill, and with that evening’s intense news coverage, a strong indication that the news media self-generated this story, so as to report on what they started. Hundreds of journalists flocked to this small Missouri suburb, and interviewed everything that moved before the announcement. This effectively stirred the pot to the boiling point when St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch read the finding of “no true bill,” all in St. Louis prime time. 

I wouldn't be surprised if Big TV isn't behind putting body cameras on police officers. More access that Big TV can pay police departments for and make money too.

The media circus took a wrong turn at that point and the show tent went up in flames. And the news was there to report it in hi definition — rioting, looting, but miraculously no loss of life during that first evening of community anarchy.

As the ultimate segment topper, bloated talking head Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska, confused the city of Ferguson, Missouri with police officer Darren Wilson...on national television. The former Alaska governor said she was happy that “Mr. Ferguson” was not indicted in the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

I blame it all on Ted Turner and the 30 minute news cycle  “We’ll bring you the news in 30 minutes or less” (22 with commercials and bumpers).

I just wanted to reflect on how this event has changed me.

I am changed from the events of the past week, hopefully in a good way. What can I do? How can I help? That’s what we all should be saying. Be good to your family, and do right by others. That’s what we all should be thinking.

— Alan W. Seaton