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How ‘Cops’ shaped public opinion about police and people of color over the last 30 years

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COPS reality TV show has been cancelled.

Courtesy Paramount Network

When a writers’ strike paralyzed the television industry in the late 1980s, networks were forced to find new, alternative programs to fill its air. 

That’s how “Cops” found a home on Fox Television. The low budget program, which had no union writers, was a welcome solution — and it ran for 32 seasons. That is until earlier this week. 

Now owned by ViacomCBS, “Cops” was canceled in the wake of of protests against police brutality and the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer.

The show has long been criticized for its depiction of police interactions with criminal suspects, but high ratings kept the show running and even inspired other networks to create reality TV shows featuring cops. A&E’s “Live P.D.,” one of the highest-rated shows on cable, has also been canceled. 

“As an early reality program, it came across to people as raw documentary,” said Jack Bratich, associate professor of journalism and media studies at Rutgers University. “Nowadays audiences are more savvy about how reality programming is produced, edited and staged. Viewers are aware of how programs present perspectives and invite audiences to identify with those perspectives.”

The appeal of “Cops,” and other shows like it, was the idea that it was an unfiltered look at what police face everyday while on the job. However, this lens was more filtered than most audiences were aware of at the time of its inception and, as the program gained popularity, it began to reinforce racial stereotypes about the Black community.

The reality of ‘Cops’

“One of the first reality TV shows, ‘Cops’ observational style seemed to show the police as the thin blue line holding back the violence and chaos of American inner cities,” said Zoe Druick, a professor at Simon Fraser University, who teaches media studies and cultural theory. 

The show didn’t have a script or a narrator. Audiences were thrust into the action, watching as patrol cars sped toward violent incidents that were already in progress. 

At the time of “Cops” inception, the U.S. was in the middle of its “War on Drugs,” which led to the militarization of police and higher incarceration rates. 

“Their violent policing style was justified by the extreme situations they found themselves in,” Druick said. “In reality, the show was highly edited, with the majority of police work dealing with the outcomes of poverty, addiction and mental illness being left on the proverbial cutting room floor.”

“Cops” filmed in more than 140 cities over the course of its 30 years on television. Police departments granted permission to the program to film in their areas and had approval rights over the footage.

In many cases, police departments asked “Cops” to come and film in their town or city in order to assist with rebranding their reputation and as a means to recruit new officers.

“‘Cops’ was terrific PR for police departments,” said Dan Simon, professor of law and psychology at The University of Southern California Gould School of Law. 

Simon noted that there is a sense of accountability that most people feel when they are being observed. The police officers knew they were going to be filmed for the series, were aware of the norms and expectations people have for officers of the law and were working to uphold that image.

“Some reality shows are games — participants are also contestants, creating personas for the audience as well as for other contestants,” Bratich said. “In the case of ‘Cops,’ this meant creating personas of amused, beleaguered and effective police officers. They constructed images of themselves as ordinary heroes just doing their jobs on the front lines. This peek into the backstage of patrol cops eclipsed the institutional and systemic problems of policing.”

Reinforcing stereotypes

While police officers were glorified, suspects, regardless of their eventual guilt, were criminalized.

“The show drew a line between police and criminals, using the observational format to suggest that we could simply see who was good and who was bad in the situation,” Druick said. “‘Cops’ therefore also implicitly suggested that courts were irrelevant. You could see with your own eyes who was guilty — the very ones police came for.”

Simon noted that studies have shown that over the course of the show’s run it statistically skewed toward Black and Brown suspects, more so than the actual rate of crime in the U.S. Often, he said, these suspects were shown intoxicated, in poor neighborhoods and in poor physical condition. 

“You catch people at the worst moments in their lives and that reinforces the stereotypes,” Simon said.

The structure of “Cops,” which didn’t provide background or context for incidences, pushed audiences to identify with the police, Druick said. Even the “Bad Boys” theme song assisted in criminalizing the suspects even before they were on camera.

“Over the years, [‘Cops’] most likely contributed to the dehumanization of poor, desperate, drug-addicted African Americans and the justification of harsh, militarized policing,” she said.

ViacomCBS and A&E, which is owned by Hearst Communications and Disney Media Networks, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The representation of suspects on reality police shows is part of the reason that protesters have called for their cancellation over the years. Those calls were ultimately answered in the wake of nationwide rallies against police brutality and the bias against people of color.

“By focusing on ordinary situations, reality TV often normalizes certain behaviors,”  Bratich said. “The call to cancel ‘Cops’ was a refusal of police normalization.”

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/13/how-cops-shaped-public-opinion-about-police-and-people-of-color.html

Publications

Security and Sustainability Forum-With Hazel Henderson and Claudine Schneider. 10/22/2020

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Steering Societies Beyond GDP to the SDGs

With Hazel Henderson and Claudine Schneider

October 22, 2020

1:15 pm to 2:15 pm EDT

The next webinar in the SSF series, with ecological economist and futurist Hazel Henderson, will address how the UN SDGs can and should replace GDP as the basis for valuing society leading to an economy based on planet protection and human wellbeing. Claudine Schneider is Hazel’s guest.

GDP accounts for all the public expenditures as “debt” while ignoring the value of the assets they created. If GDP were to be corrected by including the missing asset account, these debt-to-GDP ratios would be cut by up to 50% — with a few keystrokes! Learn why money isn’t what you think it is and why that matters to life on Earth in the next two webinars with Hazel and guests.

Register

Claudine Schneider is a former Republican U.S. representative from Rhode Island. She was the first, and to date only, woman elected to Congress from Rhode Island. She is founder of Republicans for Integrity, which describes itself as a network of “Republican former Members of Congress who feel compelled to remind Republican voters about the fundamentals of our party and to provide the facts about incumbents’ voting records.”

October 22nd webinar with Claudine Schneider and Hazel

Sincerely,

Ed.

Edward Saltzberg, PhD

Executive Director

Security and Sustainability Forum

www.ssfonline.org

[email protected]

Sincerely,

Ed.

Edward Saltzberg, PhD

Executive Director

Security and Sustainability Forum

www.ssfonline.org

Source: https://www.ethicalmarkets.com/63564-2/

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The Briefing: RVShare raises over $100M, Google disputes charges, and more

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Here’s what you need to know today in startup and venture news, updated by the Crunchbase News staff throughout the day to keep you in the know.

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RVShare raises over $100M for RV rentals

RVShare, an online marketplace for RV rentals, reportedly raised over $100 million in a financing led by private equity firms KKR and Tritium Partners.

Akron, Ohio-based RVShare has seen sharp growth in demand amid the pandemic, as more would-be travelers seek socially distanced options for hitting the road. Founded in 2013, the company matches RV owners with prospective renters, filtering by location, price and vehicle types.

Previously, RVShare had raised $50 million in known funding, per Crunchbase data, from Tritium Partners. The company is one of several players in the RV rental space, and competes alongside Outdoorsy, a peer-to-peer RV marketplace that has raised $75 million in venture funding.

Funding news

  • BrightFarms closes on $100M: Indoor farming company BrightFarms said it secured more than $100 million in debt and new equity capital to support expansion plans. The Series E round of funding was led by Cox Enterprises, which now owns a majority stake in the company, and includes a follow-on investment from growth equity firm Catalyst Investors.
  • Anyscale inks $40MAnyscale, the Berkeley-based company behind the Ray open source project for building applications, announced $40 million in an oversubscribed Series B funding round. Existing investor NEA led the round and was joined by Andreessen Horowitz, Intel Capital and Foundation Capital. The new funding brings Anyscale’s total funding to more than $60 million.
  • Klar deposits $15M: Mexican fintech Klar closed on $15 million in Series A funding, led by Prosus Ventures, with participation from new investor International Finance Corporation and existing investors Quona Capital, Mouro Capital and Acrew. The round brings total funding raised to approximately $72 million since the company was founded in 2019. The funds are intended to grow Klar’s engineering capabilities in both its Berlin and Mexico hubs.
  • O(1) Labs rakes in $10.9M: O(1) Labs, the team behind the cryptocurrency Mina, announced $10.9 million in a strategic investment round. Co-leading the round are Bixin Ventures and Three Arrows Capital with participation from SNZ, HashKey Capital, Signum Capital, NGC Ventures, Fenbushi Capital and IOSG Ventures.
  • Blustream bags $3M: After-sale customer engagement company Blustream said it raised $3 million in seed funding for product usage data and digital transformation efforts for physical goods companies via the Blustream Product Experience Platform. York IE led the round of funding for the Worcester, Massachusetts-based company with additional support from existing investors.Pillar secures another $1.5M: Pillar, a startup that helps families protect and care for their loved ones, raised $1.5 million in a seed extension to close at $7 million, The round was led by Kleiner Perkins.

Other news

  • Google rejects DOJ antitrust arguments: In the wake of a widely anticipated U.S. Justice Department antitrust suit against Google, the search giant disputed the charges in a statement, maintaining that: “People use Google because they choose to, not because they’re forced to, or because they can’t find alternatives.”
  • Facebook said to test Nextdoor rival: Facebook is reportedly testing a service similar to popular neighborhood-focused social Nextdoor. Called Neighborhoods, the feature reportedly suggests local neighborhood groups to join on Facebook.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

Venture investors and leaders in the fintech space can visualize a future where such startups will move toward again rebundling services.

Root Inc., the parent company of Root Insurance, launched its initial public offering and is looking at a valuation of as much as $6.34 billion.

Clover Health posted rising revenues and a narrower loss in its most recent financial results, published in advance of a planned public market debut.

Crunchbase News’ top picks of the news to stay current in the VC and startup world.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/briefing-10-21-20/

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Crunchbase

Syte Sees $30M Series C For Product Discovery

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Online shopping has become the norm for most people in 2020, even coaxing traditional retail brands to up their presence to stay competitive. However, now that shoppers can’t see and touch products like they used to, e-commerce discovery has become a crucial element for customer acquisition and retention.

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Enter Syte, an Israel-based company that touts creating the world’s first product discovery platform that utilizes the senses, such as visual, text and voice, and then leverages visual artificial intelligence and next-generation personalization to create individualized and memorable customer experiences, Syte co-founder and CEO Ofer Fryman told Crunchbase News.

To execute on this, the company raised $30 million in Series C funding and an additional $10 million in debt. Viola Ventures led the round and was joined by LG Technology Ventures, La Maison, MizMaa Ventures and Kreos Capital, as well as existing investors Magma, Naver Corporation, Commerce Ventures, Storm Ventures, Axess Ventures, Remagine Media Ventures and KDS Media Fund.

This brings the company’s total fundraising to $71 million since its inception in 2015. That includes a $21.5 million Series B, also led by Viola, in 2019, according to Crunchbase data.

Fryman intends for the new funding to be put to work on product enhancements and geographic expansion. Syte already has an established customer base in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and will now focus expansion in the U.S. and Asia-Pacific.

Meanwhile, Syte has grown 22 percent quarter over quarter, as well as experienced a 38 percent expansion of its customer base since the beginning of 2020.

“Since we crossed $1 million annual recurring revenue, we have been tripling revenue while also becoming more efficient,” Fryman said. “We can accelerate growth as well as build an amazing technology and solution for a business that needs it right now. We plan to grow further, and even though our SaaS metrics are excellent right now, our goal is to improve them.”

Anshul Agarwal, managing director at LG Technology Ventures, said Syte was an attractive investment due in part to its unique technology.

“They have a deep-learning system and have created a new category, product discovery that will enable online shopping in a way we never had the ability to do before,” Agarwal said. “The product market fit was also unique. We believe in the strong execution by the team and the rapid growth in SaaS. We looked at many different companies, and the SaaS metrics that Syte showed are the strongest we’ve seen in a while.”

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Venture investors and leaders in the fintech space can visualize a future where such startups will move toward again rebundling services.

Root Inc., the parent company of Root Insurance, launched its initial public offering and is looking at a valuation of as much as $6.34 billion.

Clover Health posted rising revenues and a narrower loss in its most recent financial results, published in advance of a planned public market debut.

Crunchbase News’ top picks of the news to stay current in the VC and startup world.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/syte-sees-30m-series-c-for-product-discovery/

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