Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Should The Media Have Access to Police Scanners?

Police in Jacksonville, Florida have removed police scanners from local newsrooms.

The police department previously rented the scanners to the news outlets (radio, TV and newspapers) but now the police are refusing access. The story above is from July, when the threat of losing the scanners became known.

News outlets have relied upon scanners for years as a why of monitoring breaking activity in their regions. Some news outlets believe the police are trying to control the information that news outlets can obtain. The police say that they are collecting the equipment because of budgetary reasons.

Many of the news outlets are asking their readers and viewers to inform them when news breaks.

Should the news outlets have access to police and fire radio signals and reports? Should that information be public?

14 comments:

Marcie's Thoughts said...

This is a blaring example of how society is not as open and democratic as perceived. Isn't information that concerns a community/society supposed to be made available to them? The question that should be asked is, "why does the law enforcement department feel that their transmissions should be private?" I personally would like to know how allowing the information to freely flow impact their operations.

Hayley Condon said...

I don't believe that the police has an obligation to allow the media access to their scanners. A police force gets no funding from the media, therefore the police doesn't "owe" the media anything.

However, if a police department is doing its job correctly, there is no reason as to why they shouldn't allow the media access to their scanners.

Alexis Wilkinson said...

The reporter stated that the radios kept the government working with fairness and integrity. I think that the police want to keep the information to themselves so people do not over react to certain events. I think it is important, however, for the news to stay in contact with the radios because it enables them to get the TRUE information that is needed in reporting.

Robert Ke said...

Though the police do not "owe" the media any type of access, it is neglectful to the public, as in many cases media is the main form of public information, unless you privatize police forces, their is no reason that they should claim restrictions.

Shauna Bannan said...

While I think there's no reason for the police to restrict the usage of the scanners in the news outlets, my question is does every news outlet have these perks? Surely, it's a big deal to keep the community safe and alert of what's going on. What are the police trying to hide anyway? If the media is spewing out information that hasn't been proven yet, then I can see why the scanners might be prohibited. Otherwise, there shouldn't be a problem.

Samantha Grinnan said...

I totally agree with Hayley above. The media, as far as I know, does not give anything to the police. If that is true, than why do the police owe anything to the media??

Also, scanners seem like an out for media...what happened to being on the look out for a story, not sitting back and waiting for a call to go across a machine.

9-30-55 said...

something needs to register...the first amendment center/the "free-flow of information" quote by the former FBI Agent/ the florida sunshine law mention/ or the excuse of a budget crunch...but nothing other than the idea that the police are protected by the very thing that gives us journalists---the bill of rights---does

Geo said...

@Shauna ... scanners are common features in nearly every newsroom, across the country. Rather than journalists waiting to get information from police of firefighters, journalists react when they hear about breaking news over the scanner (fires, shootings, etc). Sometimes the journalists arrive at the same time as the police.And sometimes the story turns out not to be newsworthy.

So, every news outlet generally has these perks.

In fact, anyone could have these perks - all it takes in most areas is a basic scanner, which could be purchased at your local Sears or Radio Shack.

In recent years, many police departments have moved to a trunking system, which is a different style of scanner system. These require more sophisticated receivers, which are often more expensive.

Thus, the situation in Jacksonville.

- George
(the teacher who listened to a scanner nearly every day for 12 years and only ever got one decent story from that)

Sean said...

It doesn't really matter if the police let them use the police scanners or not, most police scanners are public and can be listened to by anybody on the internet (radioreference.com). Not all departments put their scanners online, but anybody can go onto that website and listen to the Philadelphia Police and Fire scanners.

Shannon McLaughlin said...

Once they permit newsrooms to have police scanners, they shouldn't take them away. It would be another thing if members of the media were requesting scanners, but were denied. In order to responsibly report on what's happening in the community, journalists need to be cognizant of the dangers that are present, and police scanners help to accomplish that.

Samuel Botwinick said...

No, I do not believe that the police should have access to newpapers and other forms of media's information, because it can all lead to one big mess! In the United States today, people sue over the most rediculous things and for the most obscure reasons. I therefore think that police could sue, because they were portrayed in a way that might be detremental to their future career, because of something that the media might say about a police officer that might have been misintepreted or misunderstood by that police officer. Thus, it could lead to one big mess, because you could have a bunch of pointless lawsuits.

David Allen said...

I dont think the police should be obligated to give the media police scanners....everything shouldn't be immediately released to the public. We live in a society were we think we deserve to know everything as soon as it happens, but I think that out of respect to the parties involved in an incident we should let the police gather all the information before there are news crews all over the scene.

Liz Howard said...

As mentioned in class, I think that if journalists hear an incident reported on the scanners and immediately race over in order to get the best shot or video clip, it could be dangerous to the journalist and an obstacle for police officers who are attempting to perform an investigation. For me, that would be cause enough to have the scanners removed. Even so, why is no one acknowledging that the police officers said it was for budgetary reasons, not because they didn't want the media to have access to their scanners? Are we really so quick to assume that our officers are liars?

TravĂ­cio said...

I feel that if the police aren't hiding anything, they should allow the media some access to their scanners. I could understand them not allowing full access at times, maybe only a certain frequency, but otherwise they should be open to journalists and maybe the public at large.