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Ferguson: Black and White and Read All Over

Yesterday, a WAPO journalist filed this piece, documenting his personal abuse by the Ferguson PD. It’s far from the only such account.

Today, the same journalist filed this one, a glowing review of the Missouri Highway Patrol.

It’s interesting to see just how much the press will editorialize, select, and de-/re-contextualize to shape issues. The highway patrol coverage is so positive it comes off as blindly faithful—but they’ve only been on the job for one day, and this article focuses on but a single person. The FPD sucked, as did their militarization culture, but I’m sure there were decent folks in it. Likewise, I’m sure there are power-hungry, inept, thugs in the highway patrol. But the press wants to craft their story about trends in the militarization of Main Street, police brutality, and racial profiling, so they keep the issues black and white.

It’s nothing new. They do this with gun control and the failures of the war on drugs and the backwardness of Russia and China, with varying degrees of success. Worse are entertainment outlets that dress up like the press (e.g. FNC), whose singular purpose is to editorialize to shape issues.

I think these trending law enforcement issues need all the pushing they can get, so I’m behind some editorialization. But in the end, all sides must be understood so that society’s reaction isn’t an overreaction.

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