The recent high-profile case of the sleeping Detroit police officer this past week, for better or worse, was yet another stark reminder of the speed and power of the media today. It was also a wake up call to those in the public eye that now, more than ever, they need to be ever mindful of public behavior.
And the rules don’t apply only to superstar athletes or politicians; they hold true for virtually any company, entity or individual that serves the public—be it the postal service, phone company or police department. All have scores of representatives out on the street everyday where bad behavior can easily be captured by a hidden news camera or “everyman” cell phone.
In the case of the Detroit policeman, the embarrassing photo made its way almost immediately onto the world wide web and to sites such as mediastakeout.com, where it quickly gained nearly half a million views.
Was it fair? Did the officer get what he deserved? After all, the “story” was not broken by a legitimate source for “hard news” nor has the photographer been identified. As such, where is the context? Was it a hoax? Therein lies the added complication of media today: Anyone can ‘break’ a story but who, exactly, can we trust to fact check and help us understand what we are really seeing and hearing?
At the same time, some might argue, thank goodness we have more mediums and tools than ever to root out and shed light on those who are not doing what they are supposed to be doing. For such individuals, the neighborhood watch is as powerful as ever.