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Citations Needed

Oct 17, 2018

"The suspect fled on foot, police said. Call this number if you have any information." "The incident took place at the 1200 block of Grove." "Police say." "Police sources are telling us." "Suspect is thought to be armed and dangerous."

We’ve all heard this type of Official Copspeak before. The local press dutifully informs us about "suspects" and "gang members" and "burglars." They're infiltrating our neighborhoods, rampaging through our streets, climbing in our windows. The police, of course, are just doing their part to keep us safe. Local media and community-based message boards they pander to read like police blotters. "Dial 1-800-985-TIPS for your friendly neighborhood detective!"

But what if publishing police department press releases isn't really journalism, but rather free public relations for an already extremely powerful, routinely violent, often corrupt and deeply conflicted institution? What if the genre of so-called “crime’ reporting is inherently reactionary and the whole enterprise of how we think about “crime” needs to be deconstructed and reconsidered?

On this week’s episode, we discuss why local "crime" reporting widely suffers from racist tabloidism and what overworked and under-resourced journalists can do to gather information from sources that don't wear badges.

We are joined by Chicago-based activists Sharlyn Grace and Malcolm London.