Best Attempt to Usurp Local Media

City Paper

50,000 Twitter followers is a pretty big fan base, so the Baltimore Police Department’s Public Information Section had every reason to crow a little when they crossed that threshold last spring. They crowed a lot, releasing a three-minute video featuring cops—including some under a giant “homicide” banner—holding signs and dancing to Pharrell Williams’ hit ‘Happy.’ It was a completely cute and apparently innocuous bit of self-promotion. And it was a huge success, garnering 100,000 hits by its second week on YouTube. But the ‘Happy’ video was, along with the department’s temporary freeze-out of tenacious Sun crime reporter Justin Fenton, another sign of a shift in the department’s media strategy: Get your news direct from the source; skip all that tiresome questioning and checking of the police department’s account of the matter that might clutter up or complicate the version you might see in the newspaper or on the TV news. To get that message across better they should have used Bobby McFerrin’s 1988 hit ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy.’

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