In history, the relationship shared by the news media and law enforcement has been filled with clash and controversy. News media, may it be electronic or print, has a love-hate relationship with law enforcement agencies. Historically speaking, these two professions had short-lived appreciation cycle together. Law enforcement agencies have often prohibited or exclude the news media when investigating and prosecuting violations of criminal law, as the media tend to interfere in their undertakings. Media nonetheless continue performing their job by providing people news, regardless whether the law enforcement agencies are in favor or not. Mass media certainly has a huge impact in the society today, including all other professions such as law enforcement.
Is the news media coverage of law enforcement too soft or too hard? Law enforcement officers often disapprove of news media for concentrating on the negative features of their enforcement work. On the other hand, law enforcement critics argue that media ignores and overlooks a lot of police shortcomings and bad habits that they should be giving to the public (Goodman, 2009). In general, it can be said that the media’s attitude towards law enforcement agencies is an undecided one. News media often show stories of police heroic acts who unselfishly serve the people. Then again, the works of police and other law enforcement agencies are usually glamorized by different forms of media, making it look more exciting and moving that it in reality is.
Conversely, news media still sees law enforcement agencies as suspicious mainly because of the police’s legal consent to make use of force, terminate citizen acts, and place individuals under custody or arrest. The deviant or unusual acts carried out by police are certainly news worthy. Both the law enforcement and news media tend to misunderstand and misinterpret one another.
It is essential to understand that the law enforcement exists in such world & culture that is greatly influenced by a very multifaceted, frequently distressing, yet powerful and significant mass media industry. News media has a huge impact on law enforcement. What the law enforcement agencies do tremendously benefit those in the news media industry since their actions become a major source of news on print and television. Often the actions of the law enforcement agencies are being exaggerated in order to fit in the entertainment industry (Fuhrman, 2009). This is the negative side of the news media, as it glorifies too much the work of law enforcement. But not taking anything against the news media industry, it has also provided positive and factual news and reports about law enforcement agencies.
There are just instances when the news media causes trouble for law enforcement agencies in the course of doing their jobs. Instances when the news media cover too much law enforcement activities and broadcast them to the public, tend to cause the police serious problems especially concerning criminal laws. The police on the other hand, have had occasions where they were forced to use their power and authority in order to shut the media out.
It is important for people to understand and realize that crime news is in a lot of circumstances, joint efforts between law enforcement and news media. Though having a complex relationship, in many levels the connection between media and law enforcement is a symbiotic one. Media who regularly publish or showcase stories about law enforcement and crime, often share a long term and mutual relationship with significant police informants (Fox, 2007). At present, law enforcement agencies have departments and staff which are in charge of crime reporters and media relations. News media nowadays need not go through extreme measures just to get valuable information.
Police have also developed into a much further media savvy in the past years and has now seem the news media to be a public relation connection rather than their antagonist (Leishman, 2003). Some police officers have also received training on how to deal and interact with individuals from media, in order to make their relationship healthy.
A sensible and practical relationship with the numerous forms of mass media and law enforcement agencies is not as easy as it seems. Mutual suspicion between the two will always be around and trust will not simply come handy. The two may have negative and positive effects on each other but in the long run these two aims to only serve the people. Trainings for both groups should be given in order to better understand one another. The best relationship that law enforcement groups and news media can have is when one understands the nature of the other’s job and all other issues concerning it.
Adjustments on both sides should also be given noticed. Police and other law enforcement agencies should be more careful with their actions and make sure not to overuse their power. They are the government’s tool in keeping peace within the country. It is important for their actions to be always lawful and not use their authority for personal or private reasons. On the other hand, news media should become more sensitive with the news and other stories that they print or show on television. It is important for members of mass media to be accurate and show facts rather than make-up stories just to gain ratings and viewers. In order for a country to truly have peace and harmony, the mass media and law enforcement agencies must work hand-in-hand in giving the people the service that they deserve.
Fox, Richard. (2007). Tabloid Justice: Criminal Justice in an Age of Media Frenzy. Lynne Rienner Publishers. Fuhrman, Mark. (2009). he Murder Business: How the Media Turns Crime Into Entertainment and Subverts Justice. Regenery Press.
Goodman, Michael. (2009). Spinning Intelligence: Why Intelligence Needs the Media, Why the Media Needs Intelligence. Columbia University Press.
Leishman, Frank. (2003). Policing and the Media: Facts, Fictions and Factions (Policing and Society Series). Willan Publishing.