‘Trial by media’: Policing, the 24–7 news mediasphere and the ‘politics of outrage’
This article examines the ‘trial by media’ that preceded Sir Ian Blair’s dramatic decision to resign as London Metropolitan Police Commissioner on 2 October 2008. It aims to construct a theoretical framework for researching how the interconnected spheres of news media politics, party politics and police politics coalesced to create a mediatization process in which Britain’s most senior police officer could be publicly ridiculed, baited, cajoled and relentlessly hounded by an increasingly antagonistic press. This research indicates that this situation laid down a clear symbolic marker about what ‘type’ of Commissioner and policing philosophy is acceptable in contemporary Britain, and demonstrated the power of the rising news media ‘politics of outrage’. Blair’s ‘politically correct’ policing was at odds with the conservative wave of public opinion demanding a tougher ‘law and order’ response to ‘Broken Britain’.