U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Presentation of Police Activities in the Mass Media

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice and Security Volume: 8 Issue: 3,4 Dated: December 2006 Pages: 223-234
Date Published
December 2006
12 pages

After a literature review that focuses on the construction of a theoretical framework for understanding the importance of media reporting on police activities, this paper examines media reporting on a bank robbery in Ljubljana, Slovenia.


The literature review concludes that the media do more than merely transmit messages from sources to those who access the media. The presentation of information and data on police activities in the mass media influence peoples' perception of their own level of risk for victimization, which in turn impacts the level of fear of crime and trust in the ability of the police to provide protection and arrest dangerous criminals. Media reports on police activities thus mold public perceptions of police effectiveness. The news that is finally delivered to the public has undergone processing by reporters and editors that involve deciding which parts of statements or information are presented, how they will be presented, which comments will follow the statement, which photo or video components will be used, and on which page or at what time the edited news will be presented. The main criterion for these decisions is the newsworthiness of the information; however, this judgment is determined by the social ideology, organizational culture, societal values, and personal experiences that compose the context for the media decisionmakers. An example of this can be found in the media coverage of the bank robbery in Ljubljana. Almost all the media covering it reported the robbery the same way, with the exception of a tabloid newspaper. Its report reflected the tabloid nature of the newspaper, which gave priority to specific elements of the robbery reflective of the organizational culture and reporting priorities of the tabloid media. 1 table and 16 references

Date Published: December 1, 2006