Law Enforcement & The Media

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Wednesday evening, the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics & Public Service hosted a panel of four SUU faculty to discuss the relationship between law enforcement and the media.

The viewpoint of the media was represented by Professor of Communication Jon Smith and Lecturer of Communication Hayden Coombs.

Criminal Justice Lecturer Laney Smith and Lecturer of Criminal Justice Daniel Swanson represented law enforcement.

The panel was asked, “How do you think the media portrays law enforcement?”

Jon Smith responded by first giving his definition of news.

“News is something that is unique, unusual and out of the ordinary” Smith said.

He said we only see bad stories about the police because they are out of the ordinary and that makes the news, that is why it is covered by the press. Smith also stressed the fact that most of the time law enforcement officers are doing their jobs and are serving the community.  

Both the members of the panel and the crowd grew silent during a showing of an interview of four officers who were involved in the massacre in Las Vegas.   

One question regarding the perceived rise in police violence drew an emotional response from both the crowd and Laney Smith. Her response that there hasn’t been a rise in police violence, we just see more of it because of social media caused disruption with some in the audience. Following her statements, several students left the discussion.

Teija Rosenberg, an undeclared freshman from Springville, said she felt the panel covered several hard topics and emotional situations.

“Overall it was very good. (The members of the panel) all have a lot of experience and were very respectful to each other,” Rosenberg said.

The Leavitt Center holds events throughout the year in addition to “Pizza and Politics” every Wednesday at noon. For more information on upcoming events visit the Leavitt Center in room 112 of the Sharwan Smith Student Center or check the calendar section on      

Story and Photos By
Mitchell Quartz