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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Of The OPARP Report and Media Bias

Before I offer an analysis of Mayor Greg Nickels' Police Accountability Review Panel's report and the reactions to it, I wanted to stop for a bit and help everyone process how the report was reported on and maybe demonstrate why this site, and blogs in general, can help people grasp the nuances that can be missed in mainstream media reporting.

Of course, this site is intended to be more than just a storehouse for reported issues of police misconduct and detainee abuses in Seattle, it's also meant to be a place where people can report instances of misconduct and get information to help protect themselves from Seattle's aggressive police force, especially for tourists and new residents who may not know about the misconduct problems here.

Anyway, as you may know the Police Accountability Review Panel, that was formed by the mayor of Seattle to review the oversight and accountability processes in Seattle after several high-profile cases of police misconduct went unpunished last year, released it's final report yesterday. After the release city officials, panel members, and police union representatives all gave their opinions on the report and it's 29 recommendations.

However, each media outlet had a slightly different take on what the accountability and oversight foe, the police union, had to say about the report... and some outlets didn't even say anything at all.

Of Seattle's 2 major daily newspapers, 3 major television outlets, two major independent weekly papers, and numerous blogs; the following was reported:

The Seattle Times gave a pretty balanced and well written report and did a fair job explaining that the Seattle Police Officer's Guild (SPOG) refuses to consider the oversight reforms during current contract negotiations, instead they might consider negotiating some of the reforms in 2010, it also presented the city's and the panel's positions in a detailed manner as well.

The Seattle Post Intelligencer offered a very different and somewhat pro-SPOG perspective by suggesting SPOG was eager to discuss the reforms with the city while it gave the city's and panel's concerns very short shrift in a rather one-sided piece of reporting.

King 5 News did a very in-depth piece that gave detailed interviews with all sides which revealed that SPOG's position was clearly that it felt there was no real need for these reforms and that it intended to fight the reforms unless they are negotiated in contract talks, but will only negotiate those terms several years from now. It also reported that city officials are insisting that they are going to be assertive about implementing these reforms, and that panel members have pleaded with the union to not hinder these reforms to no avail.

KOMO 4 News only briefly mentioned that SPOG will not accept any changes unless they are negotiated and was very sparce on details, giving the issue very little consideration overall.

KIRO 7 News refused to report on the story.

The Stranger Weekly and it's blog refused to report on the story.

The Seattle Weekly and it's blog refused to report on the story.

All other Seattle blogs refused to report on the story.

So, as you can tell, sifting through all these different reports is required in order to get the whole story since there are so many biases involved with issues surrounding police misconduct and accountability. Most people are very biased towards having absolute trust in police officers, it's ingrained into our psyches at a very young age and it flows through the reporting done by many Seattle reporters and media outlets. So it takes a great deal of effort and time to sift through all the information to find the truth of the matter.

That's why I see this site as filling a vital role, especially here in Seattle when one paper or station will report on a story of misconduct and the others will completely ignore it, like this case or this case or this case which were only reported at one place for example. But also to sift through the contradictory reports and find the heart of the issue and give it more analysis than general interest news outlets would.

Police misconduct, accountability, and detainee abuses are very serious erosions of constitutionally protected rights in the US, it slowly corrupts the entire premise upon which the American government and society were based and can utterly destroy lives and families without just cause and without recourse when allowed to continue unabated. These are very serious issues that must be reported on and thouroughly analyzed or else it will cause the foundations of our society to slowly rot away.

I wish I didn't have to write about this stuff, I'm not the best person to do it because of my condition... but nobody else in Seattle does it consistently... so I do.

Let me know if there's a way I can do it better... not for my sake, but for your's.

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