How the news media sensationalize the actions of bad cops and create a negative perception about all police

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Media text of police images is on all the television drama, reality shows, news and entertainment media, news broadcast film and other media formats. In most cases, the representations of policing in all these avenues are frequently inaccurate. This inaccurate representation provides the public with misinformation regarding police officers and the nature of their work. The opinion that public has regarding police is partly based on what they see in the media. These views are primarily based on images which don’t reflect the reality. How the media portrays police officers is likely to impact on how the public sees the officers.

When people are exposed to reality shows, police dramas or other stories in the news, they are likely to be exposed to policing images that are inaccurate. Media tend to report on adverse acts committed by police than the positive. In turn, it ends up tarnishing the image of all the officers. Over-representation of sensation crimes and violence in the media has an impact on the public assessment of the offense. The images portrayed in the news media regarding the conduct of police are not the accurate picture of all officers. Incomplete information relating to the action of a single law enforcement officer as represented by media provides an opportunity for the public to form negative opinions of all the officers

Literature Review

Over many years the relationship between the media and police has progressively resulted in public creating a general perception regarding the officers. Media could include various sources which distribute information to the public as a whole with an understanding of change within the communities and society as a whole. Different outputs such as television whether fact or fictional, newspapers, radio and worldwide web are channels used to distribute media texts. According to Pollack & Allern (2014), the primary purpose of media is to inform the public and influence them in a way they perceive and accept changes within the society. The society today is absorbed by how deviant and crime is portrayed. However, the attraction to the news leaves the people with an undesired effect on how media influence their lives. This alters the perception of law enforcement officers, thus increasing fear of crime. Misrepresentation of policing by the press would create moral panic in the society because people interpret information differently.

Media has created moral panic within the society by labeling individual which could intensify some specific issues in the community. Media convey information in a dramatic and exaggerated manner via decorating of crimes. Thus media stereotypes public perception regarding who is a criminal (Hohl, 2011). The media should adopt best practices in the representation to provide the public with information that regards their wellbeing and safety in the society. It is the role of media in assisting the individuals in making informed and conscious decisions on the issues that affect their daily life as well as how they interact with police officers. Media should be responsible for providing the general public with critical information concerning criminal justice system and government legislation. Police in today society has taken the role of keeping peace via acts of discretion and being engaged in the negotiation process as noted by Wadds (2015).

Through the continuous building of community policing in specific areas, police are helping in educating and managing crimes which portray them in the definite form as opposed to how most media represent them. The influence that comes from the media could be positive or negative in the today’s society. Some individuals are influenced and thus take what is said by the press to be facts. Lack of understanding and knowledge and misinterpretation of reports have a negative impact on how people perceive crimes and policing of criminals. The police and media have always been seen to have a complicated and uneasy relationship (Davies, Stone, & Buttle, 2015).

Analysis of the Media Text

The media text, ‘NotEverything You Read about the Police Is True’ by Karen (2014) depicts that there are police officers who are reasonable and compassionate like Officer Kevin Dorian Jordan. In this media text, some people walked in restaurant causing a scene in Waffle House. Officer Kevin Dorian Jordan removed them from the restaurant and escorted them to the parking lot. This text is an indication that police don’t like violence. Additionally, cases of violence among the police officers are lower than those of the average citizen. But on the contrary, media would lead people to believe otherwise.

Officer Kevin Dorian Jordan was shot in the back while in the line of duty. This illustrates that police are not enemies of the public but the media want people to believe otherwise. There are many people killed by civilians than by police each year. Ideally, there would be more casualties if indeed police were abusing their power. These good actions of police officers are left out by the media when reporting stories. These are people who risk their lives to protect people they don’t know.

This action illustrates that police treats people equally when they are not criminals. Medias needs to show positive stories regarding police officer and assure public that good law enforcement officer still exists. A story on a bad cop makes the top story while there are much other good police such as Officer Kevin Dorian Jordan protecting society, doing a good thing that remains untold (Chermak, McGarrell, & Gruenewald, 2006).


Gonzalez (2016) says that the newspaper all over the world covers daily criminal stories which make criminals and crime an important part of media since they make money due to such reports. The way police are depicted in television shows is the opposite of reality. They are seen to solve crimes, but in fact, every crime doesn’t get a solution. The public wants police to behave like what they see in these dramas and when they fail they are portrayed as criminals. Many people fear police when driving since the media has taught people that being pulled by a police officer has serious consequences or even abuse as observed by Chan (2015). There are instances where media portrays cops as racists which put law enforcement on the downside. Contrary, police image is represented when the television program is fictional.

Through how they are described, police are made to look like incompetent, ineffective or crime-fighting heroes. For the public to have the positive attitude towards police, they should key kept free from effectiveness strategies of fighting crime (Wadds, 2015). Media should embark on showing positive stories regarding police. The positive factual stories regarding the good work of police officers should be shown more often than the negative ones. Every day the police officers perform the noble task that saves the life, but they are never told to the public. Media is one side when telling stories of civilians versus police officers. They never give officers a chance to explain their action .misconception regarding police has always been there. An action of one police officer brings down the whole force (Karen, 2014).


In conclusion, the media misrepresents the law enforcement officers differently in many parts of the world. Stories which regard the police are highlighted in negative reports than the positive. The media is one-sided when reporting about police officers and make people assume that officers are to blame while criminals are victims. The Media have to get both sides of stories before posting to avoid misinforming the public. The media, film, and television have influenced public perception on criminals and law enforcement officers. Images from movies and television have some different representation of law enforcement exists. People ought to be aware and understand how this media molds public perception regarding criminals and law enforcement officers.

A considerable gap exists between how media portrays policing and the real life of the officers as well as films and television glorifying criminals. This has resulted in complex relationships between public attitude towards police and media consumption. Media portrays police in various ways, and thus people should realize that police are there to protect and serve the community. Additionally, they are also human being which deserves respect. Thus media has to be fair to both officers and the people they serve.

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  1. Chan, W. W. (2015). The Media Representations of Police Image: Research Notes on the Hong Kong’s Occupy Movement. SAGE Open, 5(3), 2158244015607935.
  2. Chermak, S., McGarrell, E., Gruenewald, J. (2006). Media coverage of police misconduct and attitudes toward police. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 29 (2), 261-281.
  3. Davies, S. G., Stone, L. M., & Buttle, J. W. (2015). A Disinterested Press: Reporting police in a provincial Indonesian newspaper. Media Asia, 42 (1-2), 47-60.
  4. Gonzalez, A. (2016). Exposure to Video Media and its Effects on Attitudes Towards Law Enforcement. Retrieved from
  5. Hohl, K. (2011). The role of mass media and police communication in trust in the police: new approaches to the analysis of survey and media data (Doctoral dissertation, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)). Retrieved from
  6. Karen. (2014). Not Everything You Read About the Police Is True. Retrieved from
  7. Pollack, E., & Allern, S. (2014). Criticism of the Police in the News. Nordicom Review, 35(1), 33-50.
  8. Wadds, P. (2015). Crime, policing and (in) security: press depictions of Sydney’s night-time economy. Current Issues in Criminal Justice27 (1), 95-112. Retrieved from;dn=367204095001078;res=IELHSS
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