During the sixties, “riots” were common in many of the larger cities in the USA. For example in 1965, perhaps the most infamous was the burning of the Watts’ neighborhood in Los Angeles. As the miltants and the advocates of non-violence contended for control of the civil rights movement, opportunists and looters took advantage. At the same time, we were having discussions among reporters in the WSB-Television newsroom about how to cover disturbances without making them worse. I expect there were similar conversations going on with television journalists in other cities. A print-journalist and a radio reporter can be at an event much like a fly on a wall. But television with its cameras could be seen and we feared could cause a disturbance to become a riot. We also tried to be careful of our terminology when we descibed events. To what degree did a disturbance increase in violence before it should be described as a riot?
On close calls, our then WSB-TV News Director Ray Moore made the final decisions. With hindsight there were mistakes, but in contrast with other large cities, Atlanta fared relatively well.