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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 200746 Find in a Library
Title: From Killers to Cuddlers: News Media Coverage of Law Enforcement Canines
Journal: Police Forum  Volume:12  Issue:4  Dated:October 2002  Pages:1-14
Author(s): Charlie Mesloh; Ray Surette
Date Published: October 2002
Page Count: 14
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article explores changes in the print news media coverage of police dogs from 1994 to 2000, utilizing a social construction of reality perspective.
Abstract: From a social constructionist perspective, accounts of events as portrayed by the news media have a vital impact on how the public views those events. As such, the authors hypothesized that the social image of police dogs shifted in news media stories, effectively changing the relatively negative image of police canines in the early 1990’s to a positive view of police dogs in 2000. The authors conducted a content analysis of print news media articles that were identified with a Boolean search on the Web site NewsLibrary, for articles with the words “police dogs.” Articles selected for the study included articles from the years 1994 through 2000, and articles where the primary focus was the police dog. The results of the analysis of 2,022 articles revealed that the police dog coverage during the 8-year period was constructed using a 5 category typology of “harm, canine, interest, capture, force, and vest.” Furthermore, the changing status of the police canine in print news media was paralleled with the changing status of the human police officer during the same time period. The coverage shifted from a negative image of police officers during the early 1990’s to a more friendly, community-oriented image of police officers in 2000. The authors contend that this reconstruction of police canines and police officers began during the 1960’s, when coverage of the criminal justice in general was more critical. In closing, the authors remark that the current, positive focus on police canines in the news media fails to examine crucial issues such as the effectiveness of police dogs and the effectiveness of vests at protecting the dogs. Tables, figures, appendix, and references
Main Term(s): Document analysis; Police dogs
Index Term(s): Media coverage; Police-media relations; Trend analysis
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