Friday, March 23, 2012

The Media: Creating Hatred and Distrust in the Police

            The old saying goes, “if it bleeds, it leads.” Which means only violence and bad instances will be the leading stories, not a story on something good someone did. We are fed so much bad news in the media that we currently have a “culture of fear” when dealing with crime and a distrust of anyone in power. I believe the media is partly to blame for the general negative attitudes towards police and law enforcement officials.
            It is extremely rare that you will hear a story about an officer risking his life to save a child, woman, or family; but if an officer decides to act violently in a given situation you can bet your bottom dollar it will be on the evening news. This phenomena is not limited only to police, this includes the military, government officials, teachers, etc. Articles such as “Why Blacks Don’t Trust the Police,” on, is another way the media is perpetrating both distrust in the police and an “us versus them” attitude in the police and citizens alike. The article stems from the recent killing of Trayvon Martin, and how the black community is blaming the police for not taking George Zimmerman into custody. The black community and media refuses to put any blame on law makers who made the Florida’s version of our “castle doctrine,” and the prosecutor who still refuses to charge Zimmerman of any wrongdoing. I guess it is easier to blame the people who enforce the law, not those that enact or prosecute it.

            We are constantly confronted with headlines that scream “Police Brutality!” However, most people are ignorant to the powers of the police and the use of force continuum; thus, they do not know usually the officer was not acting in an illegal way. A great example would be the ISU officer who punched and pepper sprayed a student in the dorms because the student first, ran away from the officer, and second, was combatant with the officer when he tried to take him into custody. Yet, if you read the comments on the YouTube video that was loaded of this incident you will see a lot of hate towards the police and very little support. I would also like to point out according to the use of force continuum the officer was guilty of no wrongdoing.
            In no way is this article designed to condone police misconduct when committed, it is to let the reader look through the façade the media will put conveys. The media creates illusions all over society, not just the police, and we need to be cognizant of the agenda most media outlets have. Analyze the facts next time you are reading an article that has a strong opinion and try to come up with your own opinion of who was right or wrong, do not let the media spoon feed opinions and feelings to you, especially when it comes to those that protect the public.


  1. I believe many news stories on television cannot be taken at face value. The media tend to either only show one point of view, which is usually related to the networks biases, or they themselves have not gotten the whole story before it has already been reported.

    The media tend to only show negative and depressing stories. As you stated, many stories related to law enforcement agencies tend to be about their mistakes or corrupted employees. There are, however, officers that risk their lives every day to protect and serve their communities. These types of stories are rarely shown. The media is inclined to focus on the negative side of all aspects of news because it seems to drawl more viewers. I think it would be nice for there to be more positive and uplifting stories shown in the media, but it is unlikely that the media will ever change their stance on which scoops they go after and what storylines they will show each night.

  2. Sex & violence sell. I can't buy into the idea that "the media" created this culture. Perhaps the media is guilty of sensationalizing things but if people wanted positive, uplifting media they would speak with their dollars. They would speak by turning the channel. What's more exciting, a story about a cop who exercised poor judgment or a story about a cop who did what he or she is expected to do?

    Sometimes positive police stories do make it to the media though. A few months ago the story about how a police officer paid for a little boys lunch just moments before he (the officer) was murdered was all over the morning news shows.

    I agree that many people have an irrational hatred of police. I find that most of the time they're just upset because at some point they got busted for something they think they should have just gotten a warning for.

    However, I fail to see how that CNN article you cited is problematic. If you ask me the article is not very good and doesn't seem to have a point but I don't think that the author is saying anything that hasn't been said before. I'm black & I'm afraid of the police. I didn't get this fear from the media.

    Another statement I take issue with is "The black community and media refuses to put any blame on law makers who made the Florida’s version of our “castle doctrine,” and the prosecutor who still refuses to charge." First, there isn't really a "black community" but that's a topic for another day. My main point is that the average citizen isn't thinking about who makes legislature or how the criminal justice system actually works. I'd argue that for the most part people are completely ignorant to those things. People just operate under the belief that if you shoot someone and everyone knows it then you will be arrested. Since that didn't happen in this case people are left confused. I'm a criminal justice major & I'd never even heard of the castle doctrine (or stand your ground) types of laws until just a few weeks ago in my law class. I doubt most people with no vested interest in the cj system knew about them either.