The impact of a changing media landscape on police practice and legitimacy

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This article examines the influence of the media, old and new, on public perceptions of police legitimacy. The results of two studies, one focused on the mainstream media and the other on social media, provide a basis for examining the increasingly challenging media environment faced by police organisations. The first study examined media reporting of fraud crime in New South Wales (NSW) and its broader impact on public policy and police decision making; the second examined the NSW Police Force’s use of Facebook to engage with citizens for community policing purposes. Both studies placed significant emphasis on the idea that police must be accepted by the public as legitimate if they are to function effectively, ethically and legally. This article compares the findings of the two studies, contextualising the relative discussions about police engagement with old and new media in a conceptual examination of whether old or new media is of most use to modern police organisations when seeking to enhance legitimacy. It considers whether the way police promote institutional legitimacy has been affected by changes to the media environment, and if policing organisations should be giving more or less attention to old or new media when attempting to maintain and promote legitimacy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalGlobal Media Journal: Australian Edition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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