But police departments have changed dramatically in recent decades. Virtually all departments make special efforts to hire African-American officers and work with local black leaders to improve community relations.
Moreover, shootings of blacks by police — indeed, all shootings by police — have declined dramatically since 1995. In New York City, for instance, shots fired by NYPD officers from 1995 to 2010 dropped 80 percent.
Had they been more responsible, reporters and editors would have treated the Missouri shooting incident as an event to be explained, especially since everyone knew that young Ferguson blacks were seething and ready to riot.
But fanning the flames turned a local incident into a national scandal — and gave the media a blazing hot news item. Creating a frenzy in order to sell newspapers is another old story in America.