The media plays a very important role in the entire criminal justice system. Most people go through their life having little or none direct contact with any law enforcement personnel, but they still think they have a genuine understanding of who the police are what they are about. They get this idea from what they see and here through the media, so it is crucial for law enforcement to have good, solid relations with all media outlets. . "Media Power" represents the extent to which individuals or groups influence the content of media messages relevant to their interests. As mass media are the primary image builders in contemporary society, an ability to shape the contents of media has become central to impression management and public relations (Lovell: May 2001).
Public Information Officers, or as they are more commonly known as PIO's, are a police agencies ambassador to the media. Their job is to deal with all the media relations through the agency they work for. When questions come up about cases or how the police department is going to handle a certain situation, that question is answered by the PIO. Diane Poulton is the public information officer for the Lake County Prosecutor's Office in Indiana. Two years ago she founded the Lake County Public Information Officers Association, which she currently co-chairs. Her initial goal was to improve communications among PIO's in the 18 police jurisdictions in her area. Poulton said, "I wanted us to get to know each other, maybe find some programs to get some positive public relations, and also start a dialogue with the media to discuss our concerns and theirs." To learn more about the media and build relationships with reporters and their bosses, the association took tours of several local newsrooms. In addition, the association has invited reporters and editors of the Hammond Times and the Merrillville Post Tribune to a luncheon at its meeting this June to get acquainted and air mutual...
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