On the crime beat 2.0: Citizen journalism, crowd-sourced policing and the police narrative in Canadian news

Veronica S.E Fox

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

In Western society, the professions of policing and journalism are closely entwined within a nexus of social control. While one of the key roles of policing organisations is to enforce the norms and legal values of society, journalists can be seen as a mechanism of police or government overwatch, ensuring that society’s agents of control do not overstep their bounds. Historically, the relationship between the police and the mass media has been characterised by an ongoing negotiation for dominance, and over time, this struggle and the balance of power has been impacted by the rise of technology.

Traditionally, journalists were reliant on a police narrative for news production, but advances over time in technology such as the television news camera facilitated the ability of journalists to obtain a counternarrative to crime, justice and policing stories. More recently, new internet platforms such as Facebook and Twitter (Web 2.0), along with associated technologies such as camera phones, have enhanced the public narrative in news discourse.

According to the theory of social constructionism, knowledge is created by individuals, groups or organisations in society and is impacted by social, economic and political influences. The mass media play a unique role in the production of meaning and values as they become forums for narratives where competing constructions are framed and compete for dominance. Within this theoretical framework, this dissertation explores the police–media relationship in light of the rise of Web 2.0 technologies by considering who holds narrative dominance within crime, justice and policing stories.
The four-month study included daily quantitative analyses of three evening television newscasts, one online news publication, and four police-operated Web 2.0 platforms. A total of 1,537 broadcasted television news stories, 155 text-based online news stories, and 1,694 police-generated social media posts were considered in order to determine who holds narrative dominance and how Web 2.0 technologies employed by the police and public might influence such narratives.

The study findings suggest that police and media roles vis-à-vis social control, and accordingly their professional association, have been impacted by civilian use of Web 2.0 technologies. As members of the public use new technology to engage in citizen journalism to produce first-hand news stories and crowd-sourced policing to define and enforce social norms within the media forum, police and media organisations will need to adapt their operations in both theory and practice in order to maintain relevance and a balance of power.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Policing and Security
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
Award date14 Nov 2017
Publisher
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

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