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Police and Law Enforcement Home  >  Editorials    >    Is it the Press or is it Us?
 

NJLawman.com

EDITORIAL

Police and
Law Enforcement News


IS IT THE PRESS,
OR IS IT US?

NJLawman.com Editorial
March, 2002

As a whole, we are very critical of the media for their coverage of law enforcement. This is especially true for the print media. Why shouldn’t we be? After all, just about every other time we pick up a paper, there is some negative article about law enforcement. We cry foul and wonder why there’s not more positive coverage.

Two years of running this website has given me a different perspective. The negative coverage of law enforcement is not just the fault of the press.

 

As most of you know, this website only covers positive news pertaining to law enforcement or issues and events that require awareness or action. So, we are not contacting agencies regarding some scandal or accusation made against an officer. Between being on the job myself and only trying to get information on positive stories, it should be easy, right?

During the past two years, we have contacted many agencies regarding accomplishments of their officers. It is like pulling teeth. Here’s how it goes:

1. Number Dialed The wall of suspicion begins with the dispatcher’s interrogation
2. “Hold on!” (A minute passes) Dispatcher returns. “I’ll put you through. Hang on.”
3. Two minutes of happy music
4. Unknown deep voice answers. “Who are you holding for?” “Well, I, ahh, Hi, ’m calling about yesterday’s incident where your officer single-handedly rescued 39 passengers from the plane crash.” “Who is this?” "Well, I run a website called NJLawman.com, and..." "Hold on!”
5. This time no happy music. 30 seconds of silence and then clicks followed by that familiar and very loud EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH.
6. Hang up, dial again, dispatcher answers, I begin explaining what happened. “Didn’t you just call?” “Well, yes, I ah…” “Hold onnnnn!”
7. “Chief’s office, can I help you.” “Yeah, hi, I was looking to get press release on the plane crash from yesterday.” “You need to speak to Lt. Dipshit. He’s at lunch. Can I have him call you back?” “Sure.”
8. Name and number given, call ends.
9. Two days later, no return call, I call again. “Hi, is Lt. Dipshit there?” “Who is this? What’s this in reference to?”
10. Steps 1 through 9 then repeat

The bottom line is that there is no reason for the press and law enforcement to have an adversarial relationship. We have what they need, and they have what we need.

The press needs words to fill in columns every day. There are times where they are scrambling to find something on which to report.

We, well, we need public exposure of our work and accomplishments.

A proactive approach to the press bring with it a massive benefit to your department, your officers, and the people you serve. Have you ever tried typing a press release and sending to the media? Most of the time, if done right, it will end up in the newspaper, on the radio or even television if warranted.

This month we prepared a special report on creating an effective media relations program.  We have also created the first-of-its-kind New Jersey Law Enforcement Media Center. This page contains the contact information for every major newspaper, radio station, television station and cable news network. It will be your source for issuing press releases.  

In closing, we are not justifying every action of the press or saying that they are perfect. There are some reporters who cross the line of decency, some who don't get our side of the story, and some who have an agenda. Most, however, are just trying to do their jobs like us.  

Creating a successful media program benefits your agency and law enforcement as a whole. If your agency only receives negative media coverage, chances are that it's not just them. 

We have assembled two resources to help agencies improve their media coverage.

First, read our article, How to Launch a Successful Media Relations Program.  After reading this article, we offer a second resource for New Jersey officers called the New Jersey Law Enforcement Media Center.

Good luck.

NJLawman.com

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