I have been pretty hard on local news media in past posts — especially when it comes to their coverage of cops. This post will go easy on local news — at least at where I am from. Let’s, then, spread the love!
Media scholarship and experience tells us that reporters and police have an incestuous relationship. So do reporters and public officials, business owners, etc.
In part, this reliance on the same old sources has deep cultural meanings: The story or perspective of a cop is easier to believe and understand in society than, say, a person from off the street, an “eye witness,” or anyone else who may challenge the believable story that comes from “legitimate” and recognizable sources, such as police.
These close connections between newsworker and law enforcement then turns into what I call “lapdance” stories, ones that do nothing more than celebrate local police — a dangerous task, especially when police need the watchdog press (a job news media say they perform).
A friend, then, sent me a good story of a celebrated cop story from somewhere else (Michigan) — not just my own town.
Again, it’s further evidence of the cultural resonance that police as the “good guy” has not just with press — but with people.
But, the question is: What do we do about it?