August 30, 2005
11:15 PM EST
At the time of the Los Angeles riots, I wrote a piece for the May 3, 1992 Los Angeles Times titled "When Television Throws a Riot." It isn't available in the online archives, but the thrust of it was that televsion coverage can and does communicate invitations to lawlessness which are acted on by people who realize that there is no threat of police arriving and arrest.
This same dynamic seems to be taking over in New Orleans right now, and even though very few folks are watching television with the power out, news still travels instantly, and television producers have got to discipline themselves to refuse to broadcast pictures of and locations of looting, especially in the areas outside of New Orleans. The government cannot enforce such a ban, but it is very much in the interest of the people in the devastated region these media outlets purport to serve to downplay civil unrest. The national shows also need to avoid throwing fuel on the fire. If you want more civil unrest, broadcast pictures of civil unrest and the cell phones and blackberries will do the rest.the rest @ Hugh Hewitt