The New York Police Department’s Facebook page has taken on a role that was once largely limited to the city’s press corps: publishing news articles, says the Wall Street Journal. It is part of a push to bolster the department’s social media presence and to find ways to get its message directly to nearly 250,000 followers on the social media site. The department has more than 106,000 Twitter followers. In the past month, police officers who were once journalists wrote articles about all types of police work, such as graffiti busts, fireworks confiscations and officers aiding a colleague suffering from a heart attack.
Though the tactic is new for NYPD, other law-enforcement agencies, such as in Boston and Seattle, have been writing their own articles for years. “It’s certainly part of a wave and it will certainly grow,” said Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute. Tompkins said police departments have two main motivations for crafting their own copy: to tell the story how they want it told and to control their “unique access, including images from the scenes that no one else has.” Jay Rosen, a media critic and journalism professor at New York University, said, “The sources can go direct. It’s something that institutions are getting used to and something media companies are getting used to.”