The difference between public image and first-hand inside knowledge applies to all areas of life. Nobody can have a personal experience with each and every social institution; for most of them, we rely on what we hear, read, and watch.
For example, I have never encountered police brutality, but I read about it in the media; media coverage, in turn, helps me contextualize stories that I hear from my non-white friends. Just by glancing at headlines, I immediately become aware that there is a wide range of positions on the current state of the American police.
In all major media outlets, I can see op-eds, letters, and comments written by activists of all stripes; by victims of police brutality; by victims of crime who praise police or decry its inefficiency; by police employees who defend…