Recent Police Killings in the United States: A Three-City Comparison
Police Quarterly, 2018
Posted: 28 Dec 2017 Last revised: 28 Aug 2018
Date Written: January 27, 2018
Recent police killings of citizens in the United States have attracted massive coverage in the media, large-scale public protests, and demands for reform of police departments throughout the country. This study is based on a content analysis of news-paper coverage of recent high-profile incidents that resulted in a citizen’s death in Ferguson, North Charleston, and Baltimore. We identify both incident-specific con-tent as well as more general patterns that transcend the three cases. News media coverage of similar incidents in past decades tended to be episodic and favored the police perspective. Our findings point to some important departures from this paradigm. Reporting in our three cases was more likely to draw connections between discrete incidents, to attach blame to the police, and to raise questions about the systemic causes of police misconduct. These findings may be corroborated in future studies of news media representations of high-profile policing incidents elsewhere.
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