Police in Society Lecture Notes Post Midterm.docx

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Published on 13 Apr 2013
School
University of Guelph
Department
Sociology
Course
SOC 3750
Police in Society Lecture Notes Post Midterm
Tuesday February 12, 2013
Paper:
- (language) discipline vs. everyday
o Avoid: society, individual (use person or people), culture
- Avoid” I think/believe
- Plural words: media, data
- 80% of sources later than 1995
Lecture:
- Public Arenas Model
o Competition: carrying capacity
o Principles
o 1. Drama: vivid and dramatic= mass shootings
o 2. Novelty: new= exploit current events in new ways, create attention, new
spin/evidence
o 3. Culture: rooted mythic themes= loss of life, certain victims are more worthy (ex.
Children)
o 4. Politics: ‘powerful’ sponsors=
- Frame analysis
o Goffman (definition): the way in which stories are framed. Schematic of interpretation.
All news stories are framed before they are told to us
o Entman (1993): four functions
1. Problem definition
2. Causal interpretation: story will identify sources that create problem (violent
movies/ video games)
3. Moral evaluation: causal agents are evaluated, are they a victim of
circumstances
4. Treatment recommendation: remedies suggested, ways to justify treatments,
- Moral panics
o S. Cohen (1972): kids were targeted in media and being morally bad/corrupt,
overexposure led to panic among public, possibility that they were going to mug people
o Definition: a person/group emerges as a possible threat, to societies values. It seems
greater than the actual threat
o Media role: spreading panic. So public demanded that things happened to control young
people
o Characteristics
Exaggerating in reporting: facts are overblown because they give story a bigger
edge. Things used out of context, only focus on one thing
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Repetition of fallacies: repeat info as much as possible in new and different
ways. Info seems believable even though incorrect or out of context
Misleading pictures and snappy titles: provocative headlines and pictures
o Key elements (stages)
1. Define threat
2. Recognizable
3. Public Concern
4. Response
5. Results
- Policing the Crisis
o Hall et al. (1978)
o Defined
o How it happens
o Example
o “mugging”
Newspaper
Police
- Criticism (Moral Panic)
o Agency
o Publicity and public
Thursday, February 14, 2013
- Newsworthiness (Jewkes, 2004)
o Crime stories will be at the top of the hour, about 20-25% of news
o Predictability: when stories are rare, unique, unexpected, it is challenging rules of
predictability, more likely to be newsworthy.
o Simplification: events must be reviewed to a minimum amount of parts or themes, if too
complicated you may lose audience.
o Individualism: individual definitions of crime/individuals; Includes: rationalization as to
why people did what they did. Want people to identify with victim and have sympathy.
o Risk: more risk= more newsworthy. Even though murder, sexual assault, rape occur with
those that people know, the y focus on stranger crimes to focus on scare tactics. Can
help highlight geographical locations where it is risky.
o Sex: sells crime stories, is over reporting of crimes of a sexual nature which distorts the
picture of crime. Exaggerates women as victims because they don’t typically talk about
males as victims of sexual assault. Don’t usually talk about children about sexual crimes.
A lot of things not reported: women (prostitutes) not being covered.
o Celebrity/high-status: obsession with celebrities which are often going to be in the
news, whether victim or offender; Even if crime is not serious, because of celebrity high
status it is newsworthy.
o Proximity: geographic nearness- More likely to hear things that are local.
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o Violence: one of the most newsworthy items. It fulfills media’s desire to show dramatic
events.
o Children: as victims, more likely to be covered when murders rather than sexual assault.
Definitely going to be covered if children are offenders (especially violent) young, white,
females are the most newsworthy victims.
o Conservative ideology : to reinforce ideology. Use as examples to have tougher
penalties, etc.
- Chermark (1995)
o Police organization and news presentation benefits organizations. Important that police
officers don’t talk to media.
o Asymmetrical relations: if they cannot get info from police then they could be
potentially out of a job. It is under police power whether or not they release it.
o Objectives
o Methodology: news station, and police.
o Findings
Police (as sources): considered experts that can comment on a n event
immediately after it is discovered. People are willing to accept them as a
credible source. The police decide which parts will be emphasized or
downplayed.
Newspaper beats: specific people at a newspaper who are involved with the
police. Some are located in police headquarters to make it easy for them to
establish relationships with the police
Beat reporters: for courts
1. Documents: arrest logs and reports
2. Telephone: call division for information (“have you had a murder
today?”)
3. Scanner: monitor police scanners. they do so to discover breaking
stories to arrive on scene as it’s taking place
4. Spokesperson: talking to press officers who are trained to give
positive images of the department, can give info on crime, usually will
not know who spokesperson is.
o Sources: piece story together from different quotes
Police: most credible, people assume they are experts
Hierarchy (Chiefs, Captain, Lieutenant): chiefs produce about 10-15% of
quotes in crime stories, captains and lieutenants (up to 30% of quotes)
Generic attribution: “police said”, usually no name given. That way
more than one officer can provide info on the story.
Framing: police frame thing so that the organization looks good as a crime
fighting institution.
Stage: 1. Initial crime, 2. Arrest, 3. Court, 4. Sentence. Usually don’t end up
talking about sentencing unless something was weird.
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Document Summary

Paper: (language) discipline vs. everyday: avoid: society, individual (use person or people), culture. Public arenas model: competition: carrying capacity, principles, 1. Drama: vivid and dramatic= mass shootings: 2. Novelty: new= exploit current events in new ways, create attention, new spin/evidence: 3. Culture: rooted mythic themes= loss of life, certain victims are more worthy (ex. Frame analysis: goffman (definition): the way in which stories are framed. All news stories are framed before they are told to us: entman (1993): four functions. Causal interpretation: story will identify sources that create problem (violent movies/ video games) Moral evaluation: causal agents are evaluated, are they a victim of circumstances. Treatment recommendation: remedies suggested, ways to justify treatments, It seems greater than the actual threat: media role: spreading panic. So public demanded that things happened to control young people: characteristics. Exaggerating in reporting: facts are overblown because they give story a bigger edge. Things used out of context, only focus on one thing.

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