|Reporters, Corrections And Cops Blasted For Inappropriate Social Media|
|By Leonard A. Sipes, Jr.|
I’ve been in the justice system for close to fifty years, thirty-five of those years holding senior-level or director positions for media relations for state and national law enforcement and criminal justice agencies. I’m an ex-cop. I have a foot in both professions.
Reporters are now taking heat for inappropriate social media posts. This comes on the heels of journalistic criticism of posts in police centered social media pages.
Cops, Reporters And Inappropriate Humor
It’s no secret that I like the majority of cops and reporters. I see similarities in both professions as to their inappropriate and caustic sense of humor.
Both professions see the larger world as woefully unknowledgeable and naive. We see the world as it is. We experience its harshness daily. Both groups are cynical, profane, hard drinkers and live in a world that few acknowledge. Gallows humor is a necessary survival tactic.
Neither group takes kindly to criticism. As keepers of the world as it really exists, we do not take comments from the unknowledgeable seriously.
I never laughed so hard as when I attended social gatherings of cops or reporters. Their dark humor was devastating. It was directed at everyone and everything, including me.
When stories came out about cops posting supposedly inappropriate messages on social media, it didn’t surprise me. Given the caustic nature of cops and others in the justice system, and as one who reads social media posts daily from officers, correctional personnel and reporters, I understand that others outside of the profession may take offense.
But Facebook and others suspend or shuts down sites daily for egregious offenses and I’m unaware of any police-related group being punished.
I want to be clear that inappropriate comments do not come from all cops and all reporters. Most understand that social media is caustic to the point where anything can and is misconstrued. Because of this, most are careful with their missives.
Posts that are discriminatory or are racist, homophobic, sexist or similar in nature are flat out wrong. We in the justice system live public and accountable lives. We are held to a higher standard. But I have never seen a social media post from cops that fits that description.
But I also understand that if one looked at posts from journalists, they would find very similar messages. I did this for an article in Crime in America (below) and found that reporters are guilty of the same issues.
Now, others are joining the scrutiny of journalism’s social media pages.
The Hill (direct quotes)
The great ocean liner of The New York Times is having an awful lot of difficulty steering itself through our current choppy waters,” said Mitchell Stephens, a professor of journalism and mass communications at New York University. “That is not atypical of an institution from one era trying to maintain its position into another.”
Tobe Berkovitz, a Boston University professor who specializes in political communications, agreed, saying that “all media outlets are facing this problem of ‘How do we position ourselves in this increasingly partisan era where partisanship frequently determines who our subscribers are, who our readers are, who our viewers are?” The Hill.
(My edit)…..a political editor at the Times, Tom Wright-Piersanti, was outed by the right-wing news outlet Breitbart for having tweeted anti-Semitic material a decade ago.
In a now-deleted tweet from January 2010, Wright-Piersanti had written that one of his New Year’s resolutions was “to be less anti-Semitic. So…HAPPY Jew Year. You Jews.”
The Times has not fired Wright-Piersanti, though the paper has said it is looking into the matter and will “respond appropriately.”
Wright-Piersanti wrote that he was “deeply sorry” for the “offensive” tweets.
Politico (rearranged quotes)
And of all the thin-skinned beasts prowling the journalistic forest, few have a thinner epidermis than the boys and girls who work at the New York Times. On Monday, the Times’ immune system was activated to produce a Page One story to retaliate against pro-Trump activist Arthur Schwartz, an intimate of Donald Trump Jr. Schwartz, the Times reports, is part of a network of pro-Trumpies who have been digging for embarrassing dirt on journalists who work for Trump-critical media—CNN, the Washington Post, and, of course, the New York Times.
According to the Times, the network shares its embarrassing discoveries—call them oppo research, if you’d like—with conservative political operations and then stands by to enjoy the drama.
As much as I would like to sympathize with my fellow journalists, it doesn’t strike me as unreasonable to ask them to own or repudiate vile or impolitic things they might have stated in the past. Nor is it remotely unfair for the president’s supporters to demand that journalists, who are forever denouncing him as a racist (because he is), be held accountable for their bigoted speech, on Twitter or anywhere else. Journalists don’t deserve a get-out-of-bigotry-jail free card just because they’re journalists. If their past tweets, however ancient, undercut their current journalistic work or make them sound hypocritical, they can’t blame their diminished prestige on Trump’s allies. It’s like blaming a cop for writing you a ticket for speeding in a school zone.
Times Publisher A.G. Sulzberger did himself, his paper and his staff no favor by issuing a public memo to his staff decrying what he called an unprecedented “coordinated campaign … to attack hundreds of journalists in retaliation for coverage of the administration.” Sulzberger wrote: “This represents an escalation of an ongoing campaign against the free press.”He can’t have read his own paper’s story about the network very closely. “The liberal group Media Matters for America helped pioneer close scrutiny of public statements by conservative media personalities,” Times reporters Kenneth P. Vogel and Jeremy W. Peters report, Politico.
If you want to see the original story, its available at New York Times.
It’s Happening Now
My only criticism of the reports above is the focus on “past” statements of reporters. That’s disingenuous. It’s happening now. How could it not? It’s the nature of journalists to be outspoken.
It also concerns me that cops and reporters are the focus. Social media encourages the inapropriate. My guess is that if you look at others in high-pressure jobs, you would find similar content. I would bet that nurses, teachers, social workers, and many additional professions would find themselves criticized for their posts.
The PR Battle
The results from national polls indicate widespread support for law enforcement. They are not nearly as supportive of journalists with respondents ranking them close to the bottom of professions. If cops were as inappropriate or racist or sexist as reporters make them out to be, the results would be different.
There is a price to pay for being a cop or walking a prison tier or being a reporter; we experience first hand the harshness of life. We have experiences that the overwhelming majority of citizens and critics will never understand.
After my first fatal accident (a decapitation), friends are family were clueless (silly) in their responses. It was cops that came to my rescue; they knew. They understood. Dark humor (and a few beers) helped immensely.
PTSD, suicides, depression and drug and alcohol use are common in law enforcement and other aspects of the justice system. From my daily readings of journalism news, the same applies to them.
We both cope through caustic humor. If you took the same approach to the social media posts of journalists (that reporters use against cops), you will find disturbing stuff posted daily. And I “think” it’s fair to suggest that journalists are the worst offenders.
Both journalists and cops are told by management that they must be neutral, unbiased and fair-minded as to their public persona.
But we all know that reporters are politically biased (per numerous studies of party affiliation and monetary donations to liberal causes and politicians), and that undoubtably affects their coverage. How could it not?
I know that some reporters are sexist and given the coverage of CBS and other news organizations, that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.
African-Americans, Hispanics, Jews, gays, and lesbians are woefully underrepresented in newsrooms and have been for decades.
All of this doesn’t excuse cops from discriminatory behavior. If you’re racist or sexist or prejudiced in any way, you don’t belong in law enforcement or the justice system.
But from the beginning of the harsh coverage of cops and social media, I understood that there was glaring hypocrisy; that journalists were guilty of the same sins, (see below).
But short of an outright ethics or discrimination violation, I believe that cops and reporters should be given a break.
Both suffer the consequences of the real world and both need to blow off a little steam. Caustic humor serves a purpose. Gallows humor is probably necessary to survive.
In our world, there are endless buttholes who misinform, lie or are b.s.ing the public, which includes most politicians, editorial writers and advocates.
Cops are never going to like reporters and reporters are never going to like cops, but they are far more alike than either side is willing to admit.
……Buzzfeed documents similar observations but goes on to say that some of these comments were saying “bigoted and racist things online.”BuzzFeed.
But Let’s Turn The Tables–Facebook Comments From Journalists
I did my own thirty-minute review of Facebook quotes from journalism websites. I found many violations of journalism ethics as to impartiality and fairness, attacks on religion, outlandishly inappropriate and vulgar language, sexist comments and many other postings that would make one cringe.
But one was of special interest after people criticized a television network of commentators espousing a progressive point of view, “ABC giving preference to progressive voices–This is “media content analysis” which would get a well-taught media studies student failed in a late first year first semester media analysis subject, after they’ve studied the basics of credible media analysis methodologies, and ignored them to produce this kind of ideologically loaded rubbish.”
Isn’t that what Buzzfeed and others are doing when criticizing cops?
Comments from journalists on Facebook (direct quotes):
Rape-Thru history men like to rape women in foreign lands
Jews-In today’s world you cannot be a Jew and proud of it. Just say goodbye to the “Jewish State” and start calling yourself “a human” only. And act like one
London mayor–Khan is a little man at heart, a traitor to all, a shariah law lover because he is a little man at heart
Bill Gates–I hope he pays for his crimes against humanity
Kushner–Beyond belief that even a hopeless idiot like Trump would appoint this gormless twat to run a chook raffle, let alone run the Middle East peace process
Kushner–This smarmy, wet behind the ears twerp has no business sticking his racist nose into this difficult and delicate negotiation. Yet again the arrogance of US foreign policy is on full display
China–The f*****g bullies. I think we’ll be at war with them in our lifetimes
United States–The world should boycott the f*****g country
Catholic Church-Anyway in a general sense, based upon my reading of reports from all over, the Catholic Church is deeply corrupted
Republicans-No surprise there. Not even to Republicans. They didn’t do it for ordinary people, they did it for their rich donors
Mitch McConnell–Be a shame if he got cancer before going to hell
Trump–What a d**k. Tiny d**k. Minuscule d**k. In fact, d*****ss
Truth in Journalism? I don’t think so, that’s why I don’t post here anymore, it’s been taken over by globalist morons, pink pussy hatted marching morons, the zombie foot soldiers for the powers that be. Reprinted with permission from https://www.crimeinamerica.net.
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Leonard A. Sipes, Jr has thirty-five years of experience supervising public affairs for national and state criminal justice agencies. He is the Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse and the Former Director of Information Management for the National Crime Prevention Council. He has a Post Master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and is the author of the book "Success With the Media". He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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