Relationship between police and the news media

by Tom Reinert, June 2014

1500 words

5 pages



This paper analyses police and mass media interrelation while executing the police functions, during law enforcement and in situations of emergency from one side, and in covering the police stories and making them available to the public from the other side.

These issues became very urgent during growing the democracy and civil society movements, when police and media relations became to be a concern for both, as well as for public. The research shows how important is for all sides (police and media) to build professional relationship to respect the missions of each other, which totally differ but have high goal, and to respect the public’s right on access to information by police and media.

Key words: police, public, media, information.

Relationship between police and the news media

The relationship between police and media are controversial. Ultimately, the purpose of both entities is to serve the public. Police strive to protect the safety, liberty, and freedom that all citizens are entitled. The media serves to demonstrate the freedom of speech that is the cornerstone of the American way (Jones, Lary, 1). The media is a link between the policy and the society in this relationship and importance of their role cannot be overestimated.

Police and media relations have been a concern for both the police and media for many years. And if these relations are not constructive, the public suffers from shortage of information, shortage of truthful, professional information of a high quality. As the result publics right on access to information of social importance and interests cannot be satisfied.

How to bridge that gap has puzzled minds in both professions and far beyond only these two professions. For law enforcement, the policy has always been to give as little information as possible. The media is believed to be the enemy who is always looking to destroy the credibility of officers. The media feels that law enforcement is always hiding information. Media feel that they are the ears of the public and it is their duty to “tell it like it is” (Jones, Lary, 1).

As the police remain the lead operative agency in most forms of emergency, in consequence, it is inevitable that their contacts with the media will grow rather than diminish (Walker, 16), which means, that the issue of building healthy relationships between the police and media will never be less important than it is today.

One of the main problems in building police-media relations is that originally police policies are, by nature, secretive. Police are taught not to divulge information. Confidentiality and trust are instilled in every officer that wears the law enforcement uniform (Jones, Lary, 1). When we speak about confidentiality and secrecy it is very important to realize, that closure of any information of public interest is possible and well grounded when its disclosure may lead to the violations of others rights, may create damage to national security interests, etc. This means that not any information, connected …

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