The Politics of Force: Media and the Construction of Police Brutality

The Politics of Force: Media and the Construction of Police Brutality

The Politics of Force: Media and the Construction of Police Brutality

The Politics of Force: Media and the Construction of Police Brutality

Synopsis

""The Politics of Force" is one of the best books in the media and politics field that I have read in some time. The book explains how the majority of cases involving police use of force never become reported as 'brutality.' Perhaps more importantly, it also explains why some cases are reported as brutality, and how such reporting affects public policy debates. This book makes a big contribution and it is a good read in the bargain."--W. Lance Bennett, author of "News: The Politics of Illusion

Excerpt

This book is an attempt to better understand how dramatic news events shape the problems we pay attention to as a society and the way we think about those problems. Through close analysis of news coverage of one event-ridden topic—police use of force—I develop a framework for understanding why some events become major news stories and how those events shape public discourse about policing. I argue that event-driven problem definition is an important political phenomenon in today's media environment. By zooming in on certain news events they see as particularly newsworthy, journalists become key mediators in ongoing struggles of various social groups to designate problems and shape how we define those problems.

This study reflects my fascination, as a political scientist and as a news-consuming citizen, with the question of who is allowed to speak in the news and what perspectives on reality can be found there. These questions have intrigued me since I first read the work of Lance Bennett, Herbert Gans, Gaye Tuchman, and other pioneering critical scholars of the news. The rich intellectual legacy of these scholars' work has revealed how the news, by inviting some groups to center stage and relegating others to the wings, confers legitimacy and authority on certain perspectives on reality—usually the perspectives of officials or other societal elites. My small contribution to this legacy, I hope, is to shed some light on dramatic news events as centerpieces of struggles among competing perspectives on reality. I suggest that we analyze unexpected . . .

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