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An Arranged Marriage: Police - Media Conflict & Collaboration


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Media and police professionals are bound together in interdependent, and often tense, working relationships. For different purposes both professions need to work effectively together while simultaneously retaining independence from each other. These complex inter-reliant relationships create unique challenges that often call for improvement. This essay examines whether relationships between interdependent professional organizations can be improved through a collaborative problem-solving intervention, based on the interactive methods of facilitated dialogue and appreciative inquiry. The article describes a case study of a large Canadian police agency working with local media outlets to improve their working relationship. It highlights the importance of conflict analysis followed by effective change management strategies in implementation of collaborative solutions that meet everyone’s needs. This case study illustrates dynamics that generalize to organizations that have strong organizational cultures and are highly independent and simultaneously required to work together. Some examples of such organizations are military, prison guards, scholars, medical professionals, social workers, teachers, lawyers and most government agenciesLes médias et les corps policiers sont à la fois interreliés et interdépendants, et leur collaboration est souvent tendue. Dans divers objectifs, ils doivent travailler efficacement ensemble tout en maintenant leur propre autonomie. Ces relations complexes donnent lieu à des difficultés auxquelles il faut remédier. Cet essai porte sur les améliorations pouvant être apportées dans les relations entre deux organisations professionnelles interdépendants par l’entremise d’une intervention visant à résoudre les problèmes fondée sur des méthodes interactives de facilitation du dialogue et d’interrogation appréciative. Cet article décrit un cas où une grande agence policière canadienne a collaboré avec des médias locaux en vue d’améliorer leur relation de travail. On y souligne l’importance de l’analyse des conflits suivie de stratégies efficaces de gestion du changement dans la mise en œuvre de solutions axées sur la collaboration et répondant aux besoins de tous. Cette étude présente les dynamiques communes aux organismes indépendants dont la culture d’entreprise est bien affirmée, et devant travailler en partenariat. Parmi ces organisations, on compte l’armée, les gardes de prison, le secteur universitaire, le corps médical, les travailleurs sociaux, les enseignants, les avocats et la plupart des organismes gouvernementaux.
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... On that count, gaining public trust and support in policing organisations hinges on how the media portray the police force and how the members of public perceive the police through the media. This "complex loop of interdependence" is depicted as a triangle and has been recognised by many research (Chrismas, 2012;Cooke & Sturges, 2009;Kešetović, 2007). According to Chandler (2008), the media relations triangle is, from the public relations spectrum, best understood as a model with three points, representing the news media, the organisation (in this case policing organisations) and the public ( Figure 1). ...
... This source-reporter relationship has further extended to police-media relations, in which both entities need each other very much to serve citizens of the nations. Nevertheless, the relationship between the police and the media is far more complex (Chibnall, 1977;Chrismas, 2012;Cooke & Sturges, 2009;Kešetović, 2007;Reiner, 2008). ...
... The interview data revealed that police culture emerges uniquely from the organisational setting. According to Crank (2015), culturally shared meanings represent how police think about their working environment and how they think about their lives. Police culture lies in the role it plays in the everyday functioning of police officers. ...
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