Local News Journalism Conference: On the Beat: Police and Local News -- J-Source.ca -- The Canadian Journalism Project

Sun, 08/20/2017 - 18:53

Posted by fcadweb on November 10, 2015

Local News Journalism Conference: On the Beat: Police and Local News

Moderator: Chris Waddell, Carleton UniversityGavin Adamson, Ryerson University"Putting 'if it bleeds it ledes' to the test"Everyone in the news industry (and most readers) know the phrase, “if it bleeds it ledes,” but this paper puts it to the test in the social and digital contexts of news. This paper describes the statistical link between crime stories and reading and sharing habits. The correlation study shows that stories that contain terms such as “knife”, “crime”, “gun”, “law” and “violence” are read more frequently, but that readers spend no more time on the page than they do average articles and do not tend to share these stories via social networks more than average. The study uses web analytics data from several local newsrooms and includes a literature review about crime as a news topic and its implications. The analysis is considered in the context of the sociology of news, as well as uses and gratifications theory.Romayne Smith Fullerton, University of Western Ontario and Maggie Jones Patterson, Duquesne University"How reporters in Dublin, Ireland resist ‘The Assimilation Shadow” of British press practices"Local or community-based journalism practices are under siege globally. Dublin in the early 2000s was no different. Pressured by the internet and the arrival of British tabloids, Irish media moved away from their long-standing tradition of rarely naming a suspect until trial and not circulating photographs of an accused in shackles or coming to or from jail. Working from data collected in interviews with journalists in 2012, this paper considers how the Irish pushed back against the British tabloid invasion and instituted their own code of acceptable journalistic behaviours. What is at stake and what could be lost? What are the values of upholding community standards in the face of globalizing sameness? Could the Irish approach work elsewhere?Lisa Taylor, Ryerson University"Policing the police: The role of local journalism in keeping law enforcement accountable to the communities they serve"Until very recently, releasing identifying information in fatalities investigations was, traditionally, a matter of course for Canadian police; that information was often the logical starting point for journalists seeking to answer basic questions of legitimate public interest. This practice is changing, however – a change that strikes at the heart of our constitutional guarantee of press freedom, negating the news media’s role in society and virtually ignoring the fact that a crime is a wrong committed against not just an individual, but society as a whole. Taylor is currently working with an industry partner that has shared data documenting its efforts to elicit this type of identifying information from police, as well as the denials its journalists face and the reasons these denials are given. There is no scholarly literature that explores this precise issue, despite the fact that it is of fundamental importance to journalists and their publics.Bailey Gerrits, Queen’s University"Local news arm of the law?"Local news coverage of crime relies on police information, and this source-media relationship influences the discursive construction of gender-based crimes such as domestic violence. Previous research suggests that police-media relations often asymmetrically favour the police, while retaining a degree of healthy tension. The relationship, and domestic violence news, is shifting, however, as many Canadian local newspapers are shrinking, while police communications professionalize and increase their capacity. Comparing two medium-sized city media landscapes, this paper explores how police influence local newspaper reporting on domestic violence, shifting police-media relations and its influence on crime reporting practices. The paper interweaves content and discourse analysis of news reports in daily newspapers from 2014 to 2016 with semi-structured interviews with police communications officials, local news reporters and editors. The evidence suggests that not only do police communications officials influence how domestic violence is covered, but also whether or not it’s covered at all.

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