Constructing Crime: Understanding the Roles, Functions and Claims-Making Activities of Media Relations Officers in Ontario
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Despite a growing body of prior research, little attention has been paid to media relations officers (MROs) and how media releases are constructed for the public. This research begins to address this gap by examining the roles and claims-making capacity and activities of police MROs throughout the province of Ontario. Using a sequential qualitative-dominant mixed methods research design, survey data from 19 police services informed the semi-structured interviews conducted with MROs, corporate communication specialists, and civilians (N=26). The findings suggest risk management has a significant influence on how MROs report on crime, inform the public of risk, but also, to educate the public in their role as risk managers. Specifically, crime is constructed so that the likelihood that “something will happen” is emphasized and the public is strongly encouraged to adopt measures to manage their own safety (responsiblization strategies). Thus, I argue that claims-making activities are used by police as a tool of legitimation that is shaped by two dominant discursive frames: (1) As primary definers, constructing crime in terms of risk and promoting citizen risk management; and (2) Projecting positive images of the police to the public. Thus, as legitimation agents, MROs play a key role in justifying and attaining support for the organizational ideals and goals police services value.
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Sonya Buffone (2019). Constructing Crime: Understanding the Roles, Functions and Claims-Making Activities of Media Relations Officers in Ontario. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/14479