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Journal of Experimental Criminology

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 117–139 | Cite as

Police legitimacy under the spotlight: media coverage of police performance in the face of a high terrorism threat

  • Revital Sela-Shayovitz
Article
  • 1k Downloads

Abstract

Objectives

To examine the impact of terrorism threat on the media framing of police legitimacy.

Methods

A quasi-experimental, interrupted time-series design. The study analyzed press coverage of police legitimacy before and during the course of the Second Intifada in Israel between the years 1998 and 2007. Examination of the coverage of legitimacy was based on the framework of Tyler's process-based model, which evaluated data from 2,600 press reports culled from three major dailies in Israel.

Results

The first period of the Second Intifada was found to have a significant and positive effect on the coverage of police legitimacy. Following the outbreak of the Second Intifada, there was a significant increase in media portrayals of public trust and confidence in the police.

Conclusions

The study provides new insight into the role of the media in shaping legitimacy under conditions of high terrorism threats. The results suggest that in the face of the highest level of terrorist attacks, the media stress coverage of public trust. Moreover, by underscoring the effectiveness of the police in counterterrorism policing, and in some cases even portraying the police force as heroic, the media reinforce police legitimacy. Future research is needed in this field. Expanding the analysis to additional variables such as the government view of the police and police spokespeople's strategies will enhance existing knowledge on the media coverage of police legitimacy.

Keywords

Media coverage Terrorism threat Policing Police legitimacy Rally effect 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank the anonymous reviewers, Professor David Weisburd, and Dr. Tal Jonathan-Zamir for their insightful and helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.David Yellin Academic College and Institute of Criminology, Faculty of LawThe Hebrew University of JerusalemMevasseret ZionIsrael

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