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Social Movements, Protest and Mainstream Media

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Abstract

This article provides a broad, cross-disciplinary overview of scholarship which has explored the dynamics between social movements, protests and their coverage by mainstream media across sociology, social movement studies, political science and media and communications. Two general approaches are identified ‘representational’ and ‘relational’ research. ‘Representational’ scholarship is that which has concerned itself with how social movements are portrayed or ‘framed’ in the media, how the media production process facilitates this, and the consequences thereof. ‘Relational’ scholarship concentrates on the asymmetrical ‘relationship’ between social movements, the contestation of media representation and the media strategies of social movements. Within these two broad approaches different perspectives and areas of emphasis are highlighted along with their strengths and weaknesses. The conclusion reflects on current developments in this area of study and offers avenues for future research.

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... Social movements have a long history with the media stretching back over 200 years, and the relationship between mainstream media and social movements has been a topic of concern within academia since the 1960s (Caren, Andrews, and Lu 2020;McCurdy 2012). Mass media coverage allows social movements to gain legitimacy and advance agendas, but mass media can also work to silence social movements by denying activists a broader platform and by undermining activists' claims (Caren et al. 2020). ...
... Mass media coverage allows social movements to gain legitimacy and advance agendas, but mass media can also work to silence social movements by denying activists a broader platform and by undermining activists' claims (Caren et al. 2020). Social movement scholars use the concept of "framing" to conceptualize how the practices and routines of journalists lead the media to present a certain version of reality (Benford and Snow 2000;Entman 1993;Gitlin 2003;McCurdy 2012;Snow et al. 1986). According to McCurdy, "The importance of studying media frames is premised on the view that media both reflect and contribute to the creation of public discourse and understanding" (2012:246). ...
... Journalists use a template to report on protests that is referred to as the "protest paradigm" in which "the focus is primarily on the noise, performance, spectacle, and conflict of street demonstrations" (Poell 2020:613). Media coverage tends to overemphasize sensational threats of violence associated with protests in a way that detracts from or undermines the social movement's cause and has real consequences for how these protests are policed (McCurdy 2012). ...
Article
The police killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd sparked a resurgence of Black Lives Matter protests throughout the summer of 2020, reminiscent of the wave of Black Lives Matter protests that occurred after several police killings in 2014 including the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Based on qualitative analysis of mainstream media coverage of the protests, this paper examines key themes in the discourse surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement in 2014 and 2020. Our findings highlight the ways in which mainstream news sources situate the Black Lives Matter protests within a broader history of Black uprisings. We also emphasize the erasure of violence against Black women in mainstream media depictions of the BLM movement, as well as the erasure of Black women’s leadership in the movement.
... But new media alone do not a movement make. Many movements use all modes of communication at their command (McCurdy, 2012;Kavada & Dimitriou, 2017;Gerbaudo, 2012). That said, connection is not the same as a relationship of trust. ...
... From hand delivery of flyers to tweets, they used any means available to raise awareness of the threat to public spaces posed by the ordinance and its associated arrests and fines. As multimodal activists, they rejected a binary division between independent and mainstream media, instead using any mediated or nonmediated communication mode that might that advance their efforts to involve broad audiences in their campaigns (McCurdy, 2012), prioritizing the venues most accessible to prioritized audiences. ...
... But new media alone do not a movement make. Many movements use all modes of communication at their command (McCurdy, 2012;Kavada & Dimitriou, 2017;Gerbaudo, 2012). That said, connection is not the same as a relationship of trust. ...
... From hand delivery of flyers to tweets, they used any means available to raise awareness of the threat to public spaces posed by the ordinance and its associated arrests and fines. As multimodal activists, they rejected a binary division between independent and mainstream media, instead using any mediated or nonmediated communication mode that might that advance their efforts to involve broad audiences in their campaigns (McCurdy, 2012), prioritizing the venues most accessible to prioritized audiences. ...
... But new media alone do not a movement make. Many movements use all modes of communication at their command (McCurdy, 2012;Kavada & Dimitriou, 2017;Gerbaudo, 2012). That said, connection is not the same as a relationship of trust. ...
... From hand delivery of flyers to tweets, they used any means available to raise awareness of the threat to public spaces posed by the ordinance and its associated arrests and fines. As multimodal activists, they rejected a binary division between independent and mainstream media, instead using any mediated or nonmediated communication mode that might that advance their efforts to involve broad audiences in their campaigns (McCurdy, 2012), prioritizing the venues most accessible to prioritized audiences. ...
... But new media alone do not a movement make. Many movements use all modes of communication at their command (McCurdy, 2012;Kavada & Dimitriou, 2017;Gerbaudo, 2012). That said, connection is not the same as a relationship of trust. ...
... From hand delivery of flyers to tweets, they used any means available to raise awareness of the threat to public spaces posed by the ordinance and its associated arrests and fines. As multimodal activists, they rejected a binary division between independent and mainstream media, instead using any mediated or nonmediated communication mode that might that advance their efforts to involve broad audiences in their campaigns (McCurdy, 2012), prioritizing the venues most accessible to prioritized audiences. ...
... But new media alone do not a movement make. Many movements use all modes of communication at their command (McCurdy, 2012;Kavada & Dimitriou, 2017;Gerbaudo, 2012). That said, connection is not the same as a relationship of trust. ...
... From hand delivery of flyers to tweets, they used any means available to raise awareness of the threat to public spaces posed by the ordinance and its associated arrests and fines. As multimodal activists, they rejected a binary division between independent and mainstream media, instead using any mediated or nonmediated communication mode that might that advance their efforts to involve broad audiences in their campaigns (McCurdy, 2012), prioritizing the venues most accessible to prioritized audiences. ...
... Notably Gamson and Wolfsfeld (1993) distinguished between the relationship between the two on a cultural level (who controlled the narrative, the meaning of protest events), and a structural level (how much did they need each other, as news sources, to mobilise, or reach a larger audience). With the mainstreaming of the Internet and the increasing ubiquity of social media platforms attention shifted from the role of mass media, to the role of online platforms in protests (McCurdy, 2012). ...
Chapter
Full-text available
Social media allow disparate groups to spontaneously coordinate in support of a common cause. At the height of Europe’s sovereign debt crisis in 2015, as Greece was negotiating its third bailout and was about to be saddled with new austerity measures, the hashtag #ThisIsACoup emerged and quickly went viral on Twitter. How did it emerge and diffuse across Europe’s twittersphere – and with what impact on wider public discourse? This chapter uses data collected through Twitter’s streaming API and a qualitative content analysis to examine these questions. #ThisIsACoup first emerged in Spain. Within hours, people across Europe had coalesced around the hashtag, which succinctly expressed the shared sentiment that Greece was being treated unfairly. Moreover, the impact of #ThisIsACoup on public discourse reached well beyond social media, with more than700 newspaper stories worldwide mentioning the hashtag. But people did more than adopt a common hashtag. They engaged with other Twitter users across national boundaries, calling into being a transnational, pan-European communication space. Social media provided a potent means of connecting people from across Europe to voice their collective objection to controversial austerity policies. Through the hashtag, Twitter acted as a ‘stitching technology’, activating disparate, far-flung groups around a shared grievance.
... The ultimate consequence of these media template processes is the de-legitimisation of the protesters' claims and ultimately their demonization (McLeod and hertog 1999). These media 'frames' are not restricted to the news coverage of protests but also media representations of social movements and radical political voices (Gitlin 1980;McCurdy 2012). ...
... The ultimate consequence of these media template processes is the de-legitimisation of the protesters' claims and ultimately their demonization (McLeod and hertog 1999). These media 'frames' are not restricted to the news coverage of protests but also media representations of social movements and radical political voices (Gitlin 1980;McCurdy 2012). ...
... Examining Ferguson as a social movement, it is helpful to separate certain sociological factors such as grievance, identity, resources, etc., that help mobilize grievance-based social movements (LaFevre & Armstrong, 2018). Mainstream media coverage centers around violence and other sensational aspects of protests (McCurdy, 2012), whereas participants of social movements try to counter the central narrative with an alternative one based on opposing ideals (Rucht, 2004). While social media support protests and online activism, mainstream media appears to be consistently critical of such activity while still enjoying higher levels of trust from audiences (Boyle & Schmierbach, 2009;Ceron, 2015). ...
Article
This study investigates the site of intersection between legacy and social media, whereby it asks how local legacy media (St Louis Post-Dispatch and Richmond Times-Dispatch) invoked social media (Facebook and Twitter) discourse within their coverage of the Ferguson (2014) and Charlottesville (2017) events. It thus explores how gatekeeping is manifested and, consequently, how the protest paradigm emerged in a news landscape of proliferating social media. Thematic textual analysis indicates that coverage of Charlottesville and Ferguson clearly relied on indulging the social media sphere in important ways. Common themes of social media as multipurpose platforms, as interfacing with law and order, and as reconciling material and digital modes culminating in social activism were revealed. The study shows that the protest paradigm that has long characterized legacy media’s coverage of social protest is not as “pure” as it may once have been, since a social media component is helping define the contours and content of legacy media’s landscape.
... Yet, media and communication research has primarily centred around movements' use of media technologies and their media strategies, whilst social movement studies have mainly focused on the actions as expressions of contention. When social movements and activists are included in communication research, they are mainly investigated in two ways: how they are portrayed in news media (e.g., Amenta et al., 2017;Hunt & Gruszczynski, 2021;McCurdy, 2012) or how they utilise social media as a tool for strategic communication and/or networking (e.g., Cammaerts, 2015;Hwang & Kim, 2015;Leong et al., 2019;Youngman & York, 2012). ...
Research
Full-text available
The climate crisis is one of the largest global challenges that humanity has ever faced. Despite the scientific consensus on the threat, action is not occurring on the pace or level needed to stave off the consequences. As climate change is made up by complex and conjoined causes and effects, the issue is also riddled with communicative challenges which those calling for action need to tackle. Climate change communication research has, however, mainly focused on how traditional news media frame the climate change issue and overlooks climate activist and movement groups. This despite these actors being key for shifting public perceptions and public opinion. Although research on other communication actors exist, it is far from extensive and the research field overlooks the publics perceptions of the sender in relation to the construction of climate messages. Through survey data and an experiment, this doctoral thesis explores the public’s inclination towards different protest action repertoires and addresses the research gap in the climate movement message construction. Herein, the actions and words of three subgroups within the larger environmental movement are considered as one part of a larger message whole. The groups chosen action repertoires are viewed as part of the activists’ performed message and the linguistic communication styles created by lexical choices related to emotional appeals are part of the activists’ verbal/textual message. The results indicate that there is much to be gained from adhering to an alignment between lexical choices and action repertoires. Alignment may be key for understanding why some movement subgroups are successful in inspiring certain actions whilst others inspire other actions. Communication-action alignment is a way to approach the interconnectedness of actions and words for complex and abstract issues that require message recipients to construct consonant mental models to break potential cognitive dissonance.
... Research on the dynamics between social movements, protests and their coverage by mainstream media is abundant (for an extensive review, see Mccurdy, 2012). In the context of feminist movements specifically, scholars have given evidence of the various ways in which mass media tend to erase, undermine, misrepresent or depoliticise women's movements (Ashley & Olson, 1998;Bronstein, 2005;Van Zoonen, 1992). ...
Article
Full-text available
This study examines the media coverage of the #metoo movement in neighbouring countries Denmark and Sweden. A comparative content analysis shows differences in genres, sources and themes across the two samples. Further, the analysis shows that the coverage predominantly positioned #metoo within an individual action frame portraying sexual assault as a personal rather than societal problem in both countries. However, the individual action frame and a delegitimising frame focused on critique of #metoo were more prevalent in the Danish coverage. A framing analysis revealed four different news frames in the coverage: #metoo as (1) an online campaign connecting networked individuals, (2) part of a broader and long-standing social movement for gender justice, (3) an unnecessary campaign fuelled by cultures of political correctness and, finally, (4) a witch hunt and “kangaroo court”. Finally, we discuss and relate these findings to the political and cultural contexts of the two countries and their different historical trajectories for the institutionalisation of feminism and implementation of gender equality policies.
... The ultimate consequence of these media template processes is the de-legitimisation of the protesters' claims and ultimately their demonization (McLeod and hertog 1999). These media 'frames' are not restricted to the news coverage of protests but also media representations of social movements and radical political voices (Gitlin 1980;McCurdy 2012). ...
... Notably Gamson and Wolfsfeld (1993) distinguished between the relationship between the two on a cultural level (who controlled the narrative, the meaning of protest events), and a structural level (how much did they need each other, as news sources, to mobilise, or reach a larger audience). With the mainstreaming of the Internet and the increasing ubiquity of social media platforms attention shifted from the role of mass media, to the role of online platforms in protests (McCurdy, 2012). ...
Book
Full-text available
Social media allow disparate groups to spontaneously coordinate in support of a common cause. At the height of Europe’s sovereign debt crisis in 2015, as Greece was negotiating its third bailout and was about to be saddled with new austerity measures, the hashtag #ThisIsACoup emerged and quickly went viral on Twitter. How did it emerge and diffuse across Europe’s twittersphere – and with what impact on wider public discourse? This chapter uses data collected through Twitter’s streaming API and a qualitative content analysis to examine these questions. #ThisIsACoup first emerged in Spain. Within hours, people across Europe had coalesced around the hashtag, which succinctly expressed the shared sentiment that Greece was being treated unfairly. Moreover, the impact of #ThisIsACoup on public discourse reached well beyond social media, with more than 700 newspaper stories worldwide mentioning the hashtag. But people did more than adopt a common hashtag. They engaged with other Twitter users across national boundaries, calling into being a transnational, pan-European communication space. Social media provided a potent means of connecting people from across Europe to voice their collective objection to controversial austerity policies. Through the hashtag, Twitter acted as a ‘stitching technology’, activating disparate, far-flung groups around a shared grievance.
... This includes a wide range of studies researching the precise role of the In- ternet for activists and contentious politics (Van Laer and Van Aelst, 2010; Earl and Kimport, 2011). Another strand of research investigates the way mainstream media and journalists report on activism and contentious politics, but also how activists increasingly attempt to manage mainstream media attention (McCurdy, 2012). ...
Book
This book consists of the intellectual work of the 2017 European Media and Communication Doctoral Summer School organized in cooperation with the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA) at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, Italy. The chapters cover relevant research topics, structured into three sections: “Intertwining public spheres”, “Trajectories of participation”, “From traditional media to networks”. The European Media and Communication Doctoral Summer School brings together a group of highly qualified doctoral students as well as senior researchers and professors from a diversity of European and non-European countries. The main target of the fourteen-day summer school is to organize an innovative learning process at doctoral level, focusing primarily on enhancing the quality of individual dissertation projects through an intercultural and interdisciplinary exchange and networking programme. It is not merely based on traditional post-graduate teaching approaches like lectures and workshops. The summer school also integrates many group-centred and individual approaches, especially an individualized discussion of doctoral projects, peer-to-peer feedback, and a joint book production.
... Of course, the role of news media in promoting or marginalizing protest is not new (McCurdy, 2012). Examining the coverage of the Tea Party protests in the US, for example, Weaver and Scacco showed that the conservative cable news outlet Fox News employed frames that marginalize the Tea Party less often than the liberal MSNBC (Weaver & Scacco, 2013). ...
Article
Full-text available
The paper analyses the role of alternative far-right media in promoting and organizing mobilization against the Global Compact for Migration – the first intergovernmentally negotiated agreement, prepared under the auspices of the United Nations, covering all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner. Exploring four European alternative far-right media: PI-News in Germany, Il Primato Nazionale in Italy, the UK localization of Breitbart, and the transnational Voice of Europe, we show that these media have gone beyond (dis)informing and have actively mobilized and channeled indignation through petitioning and protest organization. While most research on far-right media practices so far has focused either on social media interactions or exclusively on ‘disinformation’ and ‘fake news’, we analyse web based alternative news media as part of а far-right social movement that has successfully used progressive left-wing protests repertoires and tactics. We argue that alternative far-right news media act as ‘indignation mobilization mechanisms’ that not only fuel the indignation of the public by channeling the messages of far-right politicians but also channel bottom-up indignation through online campaigns, petitions, and offline street protests. This unabashedly biased and mobilization-oriented approach is what distinguishes far-right media from mainstream media and guarantees them a loyal and dedicated supporter base.
... Media can be thought of as an interactive space (McCurdy, 2012). Representatives of distinct groups tend to communicate with each other through various media channels (Gamson, 2001;Kowalchuk, 2011). ...
Article
The prolific expansion of intergroup contact research has established that intergroup interactions are tightly linked to social integration. In this review, recent technological and statistical innovations with the potential to advance this body of research are presented. First, concerns over the validity of longitudinal models are discussed before innovative analytical techniques are introduced that explore change over time. Next, intensive repeated measure designs, such as experience sampling approaches, are introduced as opportunities to investigate the day‐to‐day lives of individuals. Virtual reality technology is then presented as another means to examine naturalistic contact experiences in the laboratory, offering researchers an unrivaled capacity to induce uncommon contact experiences. Finally, we propose that additional sources of contextual data, such as competing media messages, could extend these models in innovative ways by accounting for the time and place surrounding intergroup contact. Similarly, longitudinal social network analysis can provide additional contextual information by considering the broader network environment in which contact occurs. We describe these innovations with the intention of spurring future research that will advance our understanding of how intergroup contact can be used to improve our societies. Thus, we conclude with a discussion on how to bridge divides between researchers and practitioners.
... Violence, disruption, and other sensational aspects of protests tend to be front and center in mainstream media protest coverage (Boykoff 2006;McCurdy 2012). Oftentimes, protesters are portrayed in the news as deviant and threats to society, while the protests themselves are ultimately characterized as useless. ...
Article
The protest paradigm, which describes the unequitable reciprocity of the media-social movement relationship, creates a double-bind for social movements. Mainstream news media in the United States emphasize emotion, drama, and irrationality while excluding the grievances, agendas, and substance behind a protest, contributing to negative narratives that can hinder public support for a movement. This analysis of Facebook news posts of protests by mainstream U.S. news organizations contributes to our understanding of how social media’s engagement affordances work in cohort with journalists’ use of emotional appeals to legitimize some protests and delegitimize others. Results show posts encourage the mobilization of some protests more than others, and media frames and emotional linguistic devices might contribute to a spectrum of delegitimizing framing effects. Legitimizing features significantly decrease emotional reactions from audiences, leading to more neutral but potentially less engaging audience reception and response. Findings advance our understanding protest paradigm framing outcomes.
... No obstant, la contradicció fonamental entre capital i treball encara és vigent i les vagues en són un reflex. No obstant, així com existeix una producció teòrica i empírica àmplia al voltant del tractament mediàtic dels moviments socials i de diferents formes col·lectives de protesta ( McCurdy 2012), són escasses les investigacions sobre el cas específic de conflictes i vagues laborals. Els estudis existents coincideixen en concloure que la representació mediàtica de les vagues es caracteritza per l'èmfasi en esdeveniments concrets i en les seues conseqüències negatives ( Morley 1976;Coscia 2009;Cárdenas 2014;Bruno 2009;Wright 2001). ...
Article
Full-text available
Using a qualitative methodology, we select and analyze a sample of news about labor strikes from three major newspapers in Spain. Results indicate that the information is partially focused on the immediate causes and consequences of the strikes and does not frame the protests within a systemic perspective but through a circumstantial one. Thus, newspapers concentrate the attention on the specific negative effects of each strike for companies, consumers, the general population, and even for strikers themselves. Highlighted causes are generally conjunctural and not related with structural factors such as the contradiction between capital and labor. This media treatment builds two opposing sides: strikers versus the rest of the population. The article finishes with a discussion around the practical consequences of these conclusions for the strategies of labor and other social movement organizations. Resum: Mitjançant una metodologia qualitativa s'ha seleccionat i analitzat una mostra de notícies sobre vagues laborals procedents de tres dels principals diaris de l'Estat Espanyol. Els resultats indiquen que la informació se centra, principalment, en les causes i conseqüències immediates de les vagues, i no emmarca les protestes dins d'una perspectiva sistèmica sinó conjuntural. És així que es posa l'atenció en els efectes negatius que cada vaga té per a les empreses, consumidors, població general i fins i tot els vaguistes mateixos. Les causes destacades són generalment conjunturals i no relacionades amb factors estructurals, com és la contradicció entre capital i treball. Aquest tractament mediàtic col·labora en la formació de dos bàndols enfrontats: vaguistes front a la resta de la població. L'article acaba discutint les conseqüències pràctiques d'aquestes conclusions per a les estratègies dels representants dels treballadors i d'altres moviments socials.
... Generally this paradigm evinces by a reliance on official sources, narrative structures that highlight spectacle and favor the status quo, use of public opinion, and demonization of protesters (McLeod, 2007;McLeod & Hertog, 1999). McCurdy's (2012) literature overview found framing as one of two main approaches to studies of protests and media coverage, adding that while there is lack of consensus on the definition of framing, "assessing how political movements are represented in the media is undeniably valuable" (p. 246). ...
Article
In 2014 protests erupted around the world after 43 college students from Ayotzinapa, Mexico, were kidnapped and massacred. This bilingual, cross-national content analysis explores the relationship between multimedia features in stories about the Ayotzinapa protests and how social media users liked, shared, and commented on that coverage. This study furthers our understanding of the protest paradigm in a digital context, and sheds light on differences in mainstream, alternative, and online media outlets' coverage of protesters. Additionally, this study suggests social media users might prefer more legitimizing coverage of protesters than mainstream media typically offer.
... Thus, media coverage of social movements and protests are crucial for their success or failure (Gamson and Wolfsfeld, 1993). It is unsurprising then that the relationship between protests and the news media received ample academic attention since the social unrest of the late 1960s (McCurdy, 2012). Multiple studies have demonstrated the ability of the media to legitimize or marginalize protesters and their causes (McLeod and Detenber, 1999). ...
Article
Media framing of social protests can influence public opinion and governmental response. An extensive line of scholarly work had pointed to the existence of two alternative news frames; public order and debate. We argue that prior work may have been limited by the reliance on deductive strategies using predefined, theoretically-driven frames. Using a data-driven computational method, the Analysis of Topic Model Networks (ANTMN), we examine mainstream news’ framing of two contentious protests that took place during Donald Trump’s presidency; Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA (n = 1231 news articles), and the Black Lives Matter protests (n = 2810). In addition to the frames found in past research, we identify a prominent Politics frame, often focusing on the role of Trump in inciting and reacting to racial tensions. An in-depth analysis of the application of frames to each protest revealed a nuanced use of the Protest Paradigm. We suggest possible revisions to existing theories, and discuss the potential social and political implications of our findings.
... Media coverage remains an important form of amplification, a source of legitimacy, and a means of enlarging the scope of social movements. Frames therefore must remain dynamic and respond to challenges by actors within and outside of the movement (McCurdy, 2012). Frame generation and circulation are thus part of the wider discursive struggles over meaning-making. ...
Article
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This qualitative social media framing analysis captures the discursive engagement with COVID-19 in Fridays for Future’s (FFF) digital protest communication on Facebook. In offering comparative insights from 457 posts across 29 public pages from FFF collectives in the European Union, this study offers the first analysis of social movement frames employed by FFF during the pandemic. By coding all Corona-related messages across collectives, we chart three framing processes: adaptation (compliance, solidarity), reframing (reclaiming the crisis, nexus between climate and health), and mobilization (sustained involvement, digital protest alternatives). We discuss our findings alongside social movement framing theory, including frame bridging and scope enlargement to accommodate the pandemic topicality into FFF’s environmental master frame, and frame development by FFF movement leaders. This study thus provides key insights into discursive shifts in social movements brought on by external crises that threaten to marginalize the cause and demobilize adherents.
... However, there is also a growing body of recent studies that point out the need to refine these concepts in the light of a changed media ecology and the frequency of mass protests as a form of the articulation and expression of political demands (e.g. Cottle 2008;McCurdy 2012). The aim of the present article is precisely to respond to this call. ...
Article
This article analyses the shifting use of violence as a framing device that determines the legitimacy of political actors in mainstream media coverage of mass political protests. Building on an analysis of news reports on the largest political protests in Slovenia in the past two decades, which lasted between November 2012 and March 2013, we show how violence can be used as a ‘floating’ framing device that articulates the legitimacy or illegitimacy of protesters at large, and of specific groups of protesters, state institutions (e.g. police) and political elites. The analysis is grounded in the tradition of ‘protest paradigm’ research but is conducted according to a revised analytical framework, which better captures the nuances of mainstream media reports on mass protests and the complexities of contemporary protest action. A qualitative multimodal analysis of protest coverage in the main evening news programmes of two leading Slovene mainstream news sources – commercial TV station POP TV and national public broadcaster TV Slovenia – shows that mainstream media can resort to providing a normative social function, even in cases when protesters are framed as legitimate political subjects. It also shows that the legitimization of protesters as political subjects does not necessarily imply legitimization of their explicitly political challenges to the status quo, but can serve to shift the discourse from the sphere of politics to that of morality.
... In decentralized and digitally mediated protests where individual organizers or leaders can be difficult to identify, this can prove to be particularly useful. Yet, as shown by the protest paradigm literature, media coverage has often foregrounded the spectacular side at the expense of the political demands of protests (McCurdy, 2012). ...
Article
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This study examines the meaning-making work of transnational cultural references in protest. Whether using the image of the superhero or re-mixing a famous painting, the presence of such references in home-made protest placards was a striking feature of the 2017 anti-corruption protests in Romania. By means of a qualitative analysis of 58 such signs, this study identifies five types of transnational cultural resources co-opted in the local protest: politics, high and popular culture, brand names, computer culture, and other motivational slogans and protest symbols. Such references are appropriated in local protest for their recognizability potential, their generic interpretive frames, or their usefulness in generating surprising re-iterations of the political cause. Yet, the use of such references remains interwoven with the symbolic and political capital of professional, middle-class elites. In the Romanian case, the use of these transnational cultural references also constructs the protesters as cosmopolitan and aligned with Western cultural consumption and political practices. In turn, this frames political opponents as backwards, parochial, and unfit for democratic politics.
... Al alertar a la población de manera explícita, los medios no solo consideraron las consecuencias (enfoque que no tuvo mucha presencia), sino que especificaron que los efectos negativos serían mayores. Este llamado de alerta, en un contexto de conflicto, pudo incidir en el comportamiento de la ciudadanía frente a las acciones tomadas por los actores políticos, en muchos casos, en detrimento de las causas reales y motivaciones de los ciudadanos durante las movilizaciones (Donson, Chesters y Welsh, 2004;Gorringe y Rosie, 2008;Smith, McCarthy, McPhail y Augustyn, 2001;McCurdy, 2012). ...
Article
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América Latina vivió un conjunto de masivas manifestaciones sociales durante los últimos años con distintas repercusiones políticas. En el Perú, entre octubre y noviembre de 2020, el 13% de los peruanos se movilizó en las calles por un conflicto social ocasionado por la vacancia del presidente Martín Vizcarra y el nombramiento de un nuevo presidente. Los medios de comunicación peruanos pusieron en agenda esta situación; sin embargo, se evidenció una diferencia en la forma de enfocar este conflicto e interpretarlo hacia la ciudadanía. Desde un enfoque descriptivo, transversal, no experimental y de enfoque mixto, se analizan 53 portadas de los diarios más consumidos en Perú (El Comercio, La República, Trome y El Popular), a partir de las cuales se evidencia la presencia mayoritaria de un enfoque periodístico de amenaza y de oposición, y la nula aparición de un frame que promueva el diálogo con el fin de transformar dicho conflicto.
... When media and communication are considered, the required skills that are sought within a social movement network are expected to include knowledge and expertise in art and design, connections with journalists, internet skills, social media skills, and other related capabilities. In this regard, lay-knowledge and 'background knowledge' (Reckwitz, 2002: 249) of how media, journalism and technology operate have become more commonplace amongst political activists (McCurdy, 2012). Once activists have an awareness of how media production works and which content is likely to be catchy and visually appealing, they can play with journalists' expectations, feed the media and engage in counter-spin. ...
Book
In this book a set of theoretical and methodological resources are presented to study the way in which protest, resistance and social movement discourses circulate through society and looks at the role of media and of communication in this process. Empirically, the focus of this book is on the UK’s anti-austerity movement. ‘The Circuit of Protest’, as developed in this volume, is comprised of an analysis of the discourses of the anti-austerity movement and their corresponding movement frames, and the self-mediation practices geared at communicating these. The mainstream media representations and the reception of the movement discourses and frames by non-activist citizens are also studied. It is concluded that studying a movement through the prism of mediation provides a nuanced assessment in terms of failures and successes of the UK’s anti-austerity movement. The book is of relevance to students and researchers of politics, social movements, as well as media and communication, but also to activists.
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This article explores the symbolic construction of civic engagement mediated by social media in Canadian newspapers. The integration of social media in politics has created a discursive opening for reimagining engagement, partly as a result of enthusiastic accounts of the impact of digital technologies upon democracy. By means of a qualitative content analysis of Canadian newspaper articles between 2005 and 2014, we identify several discursive articulations of engagement: First, the articles offer the picture of a wide range of objects of engagement, suggesting a civic body actively involved in governance processes. Second, engagement appears to take place only reactively, after decisions are made. Finally, social media become the new social glue, bringing isolated individuals together and thus enabling them to pressure decision-making institutions. We argue that, collectively, these stories construct engagement as a deeply personal gesture that is nevertheless turned into a communal experience by the affordances of technology. The conclusion unpacks what we deem as the ambiguity at the heart of this discourse, considering its implications for democratic politics and suggesting avenues for the further monitoring of the technologically enabled personalization of engagement.
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The Social Justice Protest movement in 2011 was the largest social movement in Israel’s history. The movement received media coverage for almost two months and in all news outlets, despite the protest’s broad demands and its overall radical indictment against the economic system and the status quo. This study explores the causes for this extraordinary media coverage. We find that movement characteristics of the leadership’s professional background, the media strategies they employed, and the effects of mainstream channels on media tactics were important. We also find that journalists’ personal identification with the movement is a key factor leading to the wide and favorable media coverage. Personal identification led many journalists to report favorably on the movement and write supportive opinion columns, to ignore stories that could damage it, to participate and volunteer in movement activities, and to offer their professional skills to help the movement leadership. We propose a tentative model consisting of factors and mechanisms that may explain when personal identification and journalistic activism are more likely to occur.
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The paper is devoted to the analysis of collective actions in modern Russia. The author analyzes the approaches to understanding collective action in the modern socio-political process. The transformation of collective actions and the emergence of a new phenomenon - on-line collective action are analyzed in the paper. The degree of significance of on-line collective actions and the possibility of their impact on the socio-political situation is analyzed.
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Despite efforts by protesters to develop newsworthy tactics, there is ample evidence that reporters use a few well-defined scripts to construct stories on these events. The institutionalization of protest has only served to amplify the routinization of media coverage. How then do reporters address emergent forms of collective action that fail to conform to existing scripts? The current research investigates this phenomenon by comparing the language used to describe protest in major American cities and disturbances on college and university campuses. Colleges and universities have seen an upsurge of these events, such as disorderly celebrations following sporting contests. In contrast, protest has become increasingly institutionalized. As a consequence, we suspected that coverage of campus community disturbances would draw much more heavily on language that portrays them as dangerous than would coverage of protests. Our analysis of newspaper coverage reveals that even when taking into consideration important event features like the behaviors of police and civilians, protests are covered in a far more routine fashion than are campus community riots, a condition that holds even for the most contentious protest events. These findings provide important insights into the interplay of collective action and media attention, and are especially timely given the recent rise of more contentious events such as the #blacklivesmatter protests.
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This chapter presents the book’s conceptual framework. The aim is to theorize the way in which meaning and protest circulate through society. I propose the notion of a Circuit of Protest, inspired by the cultural studies model of a Circuit of Culture in order to make sense of the variety of ways in which media and communication facilitate or mediate social movements, their protest events and the social changes they aim to achieve.
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In this chapter, the moment of representation in the Circuit of Protest is addressed in more detail. Representation, unlike self-mediation, is practised by political actors outside of the movement. While undoubtedly the self-mediation practices of activists and movements play an important role, and arguably have become easier and more widespread thanks to the internet, mobile technologies and social media, it would be wrong to downplay the importance of representation by others. More than two decades ago, Gamson and Wolfsfeld (1993) described social movements and mainstream media as ‘interacting systems’, and, more recently, Rucht (2013: 262) argued that, despite the emergence and increased importance of the internet, ‘[t]o reach the public at large, the key channel was and is getting access to and coverage by the established media’. Their importance is also acknowledged, by activists themselves through their various attempts to manage journalists and influence their own media representations positively.
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This article examines the development and implications of positive news media coverage of a crisis volunteer group across a decade of disaster responses. We investigate the case of the Student Volunteer Army in Aotearoa New Zealand, a group that has been positioned as a potential blueprint for youth-led disaster response. Drawing on in-depth interviews and news media sources, we trace how a distinct framing of the group as ‘good news’ consolidated across successive disasters, initially in media reporting and then through active cultivation by the group. The findings demonstrate the potential for positive media coverage of disaster volunteerism to assist people’s recovery and provide crisis volunteer groups with important leverage to further their operational abilities and challenge exclusionary power structures in post-disaster environments. However, our analysis also warns that simplifying accounts of post-disaster collective action to create ‘good news’ can produce internal tensions within crisis volunteer groups and reinforce the hierarchies and inequities that characterize disaster response.
Research
Despite several criticisms, the #BringBackOurGirls campaign has managed to sustain the integrity of its position for over five years. This essay focuses on a critical appraisal of the #BBOG movement in answering the question: how far did the movement mediate for the release of the abducted Chibok girls, and to what extent? To answer this question, using the theoretical framework of protest logic and the mediation opportunity structure, I argue that the #BBOG movement has effectively mediated for the release of the abducted Chibok girls through solidarity activism and resource mobilization in the last five years.
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This study investigates the representation of the Fridays for Future strikes in the German online newspapers Bild.de, Zeit Online and FAZ.net. Through a qualitative and quantitative content analysis over the time period August 2018 to March 2019, eight frames have been identified. Whereas Zeit Online shows a framing towards intergenerational justice, the coverage of FAZ.net and Bild.de strongly adheres to the protest paradigm. The majority of all articles guarantees protesters a voice, but this voice is often reduced to apolitical testimonies and the protesters’ self-agency is undermined through disparagement. German media coverage thus tends to reproduce existing power structures by marginalizing and depoliticizing the political agenda of a system critical protest. Although this framing feeds into the shift of the climate change discourse towards adaptation, the study shows that the idea of climate change as an issue of intergenerational justice and children’s rights has become part of the media’s agenda.
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Protester-sympathising media reports validate activists’ claims, expose official wrongdoing, and mobilise public support, which allows scholars to highlight the importance of the media in promoting democratic participation in authoritarian China. Reaffirming media’s crucial role in sustaining communicative rationality, the article re-evaluates media coverage of four rural protests against land expropriation in China, combining framing analysis of media reports, in-depth interviews, and an extensive reading of court files, etc. It unveils that two storylines—transgressive collective action for maximising economic gains and conflicts inside villages—are tailored off, when information is woven into the dominant media frame “struggle of the weak”. Simplified, but logically coherent, the media narrative is likely to exclude the necessity for public deliberation, reduce the fleeting public activism into anger-venting, and pressures local governments into makeshift concessions at the cost of public good. The one-dimensional civic engagement urges Chinese journalists to consider innovating protest reporting frame.
Thesis
This thesis argues that social media has become an effective tool that can be mobilized by social movements to express discontent with the status quo and ultimately tochangethis status quo. As such, the main objective of this thesis is to understand the role that social media platforms such as Twitter have had in challenging hegemonic discourses within society, as well asin producing counter-hegemonic discourses. In order to explore this phenomenon, this thesis examines the case of Michael Brown and the subsequent Ferguson protests as they were presented within traditional media messages. This is done to discover whether or not users on social media were able to influence the narrative surrounding these events. A Critical Discourse Analysis conducted of traditional media articles written at the time of the incident points to a shift in the way the events were framed.
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This article draws on race relations arguments to explore the nexus between the media, race, and protest policing. The media’s coverage of Black Lives Matter (BLM) and protests opposing COVID-19 restrictions bring to light differences in police intervention at these events. How the media portrays this apparent imbalance is the focus of the current study. Using news reports from major U.S. outlets (e.g., New York Times, Washington Post), we find that protests anchored to racial justice issues are more often framed as a threat to the public interests. Our results highlight the media’s role in promoting notions of racial threat and exacerbating state repression. We discuss the implications of these findings for constitutional rights, social control, and journalism.
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El objetivo de este artículo es comparar el tratamiento mediático de dos movimientos sociales españoles: el 15-M (o Indignados) y la Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH). La cobertura periodística del 15-M ha sido objeto de muchos estudios. Sin embargo, el análisis comparativo ha sido muy poco utilizado, a pesar de sus posibilidades para ofrecer información relevante sobre las variables que pueden influir en cómo los medios retratan los movimientos sociales. Con este propósito, se ha aplicado un análisis de contenido cuantitativo a una muestra de noticias publicadas en las ediciones digitales de los medios de comunicación más relevantes de España. Los resultados cuestionan el paradigma de la protesta, dado el trato mediático mayoritariamente positivo o neutral recibido por ambos movimientos sociales. No obstante, la representación de la PAH es significativamente más favorable, lo que se deriva de la combinación de tácticas disruptivas (para atraer a los medios) e institucionales (para obtener un trato positivo). Esta combinación se refuerza mediante la estrategia comunicativa de la PAH.
Article
An often overlooked tension in liberal theory turns on its commitment to procedural accounts of legitimacy on the one hand, and to the robust protection of the right of citizens to dissent on the other. To the extent that one evaluates legitimate decision-making on the basis of the procedures that bear on it, determining how extra-procedural expressions of dissent fit into the picture becomes a complex undertaking. This is especially true if one accepts that protecting extra-procedural expressions of dissent is itself foundational to the overall legitimacy of the state. My aim in this paper is to explore some of the implications that follow from this tension. The paper proceeds in two parts. In the first part, I review the political grounds that support a protection on dissent. By drawing on its republican foundations, I argue that the functional role that the right to dissent serves in complex political communities is intimately connected to concerns over legitimacy. I claim that for the right to perform its function successfully, protections must be placed on both procedural and extra-procedural forms of dissent. The second part of the paper issues a direct challenge to procedural accounts of legitimacy. If a protection on citizen dissent is vital to legitimating government action, and if that protection necessarily extends to both procedural and extra-procedural forms of dissent, it follows that legitimacy cannot be captured by procedure alone—even procedures that secure the fair and equal participation by all affected parties.
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Based on interviews with journalists, political party leaders and civil society activists, this article examines and illustrates the strategic capacities of leadership in Nepalese efforts to bolster the movement for democracy. With the help of Bourdieu’s concepts of social, cultural and symbolic capitals, the article provides insights into the crucial role of key individuals as leaders and examines their skilful use of activist synergies to spearhead significant political change in Nepal. The study demonstrates how a seemingly resource-poor movement can nevertheless mobilise the popular masses against an autocratic ruler.
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Based on interviews with journalists, political party leaders and civil society activists, this article examines and illustrates the strategic capacities of leadership in Nepalese efforts to bolster the movement for democracy. With the help of Bourdieu's concepts of social, cultural and symbolic capitals, the article provides insights into the crucial role of key individuals as leaders and examines their skillful use of activist synergies to spearhead significant political change in Nepal. The study demonstrates how a seemingly resource-poor movement can nevertheless mobilise the popular masses against an autocratic ruler.
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Does mass media discourse influence material outcomes of contentious social movement events? The authors address this enduring puzzle by developing a discursive power resource theory of the press that centers press coverage valence of strikes within the coemergence of the labor movement and mass commercial print media. Employing unique data and probability models, the authors examine the impact of negative coverage in three forms (lagged context, contemporaneous context, event focused) from two leading New York newspapers (Sun and Times) on strike outcomes during Gilded Age class contention. They find compelling evidence that negative coverage amplifies the likelihood of strike failure by disproportionately serving as a contention resource for capital. Evidence also suggests form, press political perspective, and movement intensity contingencies in how press influences work. The authors highlight theoretical implications for the role of media in social movement outcomes, power resource theory, soft repression in class formation, the public sphere, and corporate media. When America's first nationwide general strike erupted in summer 1877, newspapers expressed shock, horror, and anger and offered a host of forceful solutions to the emerging labor problem. Bold headlines and colorful columns 1 Earlier versions of this research were presented at meetings of the Southern Sociological Society, Dartmouth College, Emory University, and Vanderbilt University. We thank participants at these venues and Judy Isaac for comments, Hannah Ingersoll, and Benja-min Dong for research assistance, Bianca Manago for methodological advice, David Paul
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Purpose The current study examines the media's depiction of demands to defund the police. Although this call to action has been a part of the public discourse for decades, the call has reached mainstream attention following the police-involved death of George Floyd in May 2020. Black Lives Matter, the American Civil Liberties Union, Color of Change, and other prominent organizations have endorsed this call. However, there is a lack of agreement on the “correct” meaning of this socio-political movement. Design/methodology/approach The authors performed an inductive content analysis of the news articles using MaxQDA, a qualitative data analysis program. The authors focus on the text and its themes and patterns in the descriptions of #DefundThePolice, both implicit (e.g. tone) and explicit (e.g. defining the movement as problematic). The codes were further refined following open coding to fully develop the existing patterns. The results are organized by the themes within the articles. The findings also include direct quotes to reinforce the themes. Findings In the authors' content analysis of news reports, the authors find that the US and UK news outlets report definitions that parallel the M4BL's description of the movement. In this respect, media coverage reflected the basic tenets of the movement accurately as opposed to using definitions that misrepresent the group's primary objective. Although these sampled news articles generally adhered to the basic description of the defund movement, the authors found that the overall substance and tone of coverage varied across outlets. This divergence yielded five overarching themes that included: the involvement of corporate America in the defunding debate, the frequent use of opinion pieces, mentions of history for informing the debate, the inclusion of the police perspective, and reporting that seemed to tie the defund movement to increases in violent crime. Originality/value This article explores how the mass media reports and defines the #DefundThePolice movement. Although much debate surrounds this issue, there is limited understanding of the mainstream news media's depiction of the movement. The current study addresses this research gap and informs the defunding debate by examining whether media descriptions of the movement coincide with the Movement for Black Lives benchmark delineation.
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Research indicates that when mainstream news media report about demonstrations, protesters often face delegitimizing coverage. This phenomenon, known as the “(journalistic) protest paradigm,” is thought to be a default mindset that leads journalists to emphasize the method of protesters over their message. However, empirical work has so far limited itself to specific protest movements or events and only covers brief periods. This study first identifies and then codes the main frames in all reports about domestic protest in the United Kingdom. Analysing data that covers eight national newspapers during a 26 year period ( N = 27,496), I provide a more systematic understanding of how the mainstream news media in liberal democracies report about protests. The analysis shows that a stable majority of articles uses frames linked to the protest paradigm throughout the time period. However, a substantial and growing number of articles employ legitimizing frames—either on their own or co-existing with delegitimizing framing.
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Within the social movement literature, it is mostly assumed that the reasons why people join a protest demonstration are in line with the collective action frames of the organizations staging the protest. Some recent studies suggest, however, that protesters’ motives are only partly aligned with the messages that are broadcasted by social movements. This study argues that activists’ motives are for an important part shaped by mass media coverage on the protest issue. It investigates the link between people's reasons to protest, the campaign messages of the protest organizers, and newspaper coverage prior to the demonstration. Data cover 14 anti-austerity demonstrations in Belgium, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Results show that social movements depend a lot on other political actors to gain media visibility for their messages. Furthermore, the relationship between social movement frames and protest participant motives is mediated by newspaper coverage. Protest organizers’ are able to reach demonstrators via their own communication channels to some extent, but for many of their messages, they also rely on journalists’ reporting about the protest issue.
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In what ways can mediated transnational protests express, however imperfectly, "global civil society" and issues and identities of "global citizenship"? How, in an increasingly fragmented and multi-layered communications environment, can they contribute to a "global public sphere"? This book explores these and other major questions, examining protests and their transactions within and through today's complex circuits of communication and media worldwide. With contributions from leading theorists and researchers, this cutting-edge collection discusses protests focusing on war and peace, economy and trade, ecology and climate change, as well as political struggles for civil and human rights, including the Arab uprisings.
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This paper analyses the relationship between social movements and the media strategies that they invoke to pursue their respective goals. Three social movement organizations (SMOs) active in Vancouver, British Columbia, are taken to exemplify three distinguishable types of social movement politics: "recognition" (Gay-Lesbian Centre), "redistribution" (End Legislated Poverty), and "salvation" (Greenpeace). We employ a qualitative comparative case analysis, based on interviews with activists and on archival documents from each SMO. In tracing the media strategies of these groups, we recount their histories, focusing on the way in which each has framed its project and on the organizational and strategic dimensions of its practice. The varying attempts of these SMOs to cope with the asymmetrical and dependent power relations between movements and mainstream mass media are interpreted with reference to Antonio Gramsci's theoretical perspective on counter-hegemony and Nancy Fraser's conceptual distinction between "affirmative" and "transformative" politics. In exploring how SMOs respond to potential media blockage, distortion, or facilitation of their ideas and actions, we clarify some of the dilemmas that confront critical social movements in a mediatized age.
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In December 2009, political attention was turned towards the 15th UN Climate Conference, COP15. For the Global Justice Movement (GJM) this provided an opportunity to promote their agenda. The use of online media conjured up memories of the success of alternative media in mobilising large-scale protests around previous WTO and G8 counter-summits. However, the COP15 saw a turn to the use of what can be termed mainstream – online sites among activists. Drawing on a case study of the activist network NTAC, we explore how YouTube served both the purpose of reaching broader publics and of mobilising for confrontational direct action within activist circles.
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The main purpose of this study was to shed light on methodological problems in the content analysis of media frames. After a review of 5 common methods, we will present an alternative procedure that aims at improving reliability and validity. Based on the definition of frames advanced by R. M. Entman (1993), we propose that previously defined frame elements systematically group together in a specific way. This pattern of frame elements can be identified across several texts by means of cluster analysis. The proposed method is demonstrated with data on the coverage of the issue of biotechnology in The New York Times. It is concluded that the proposed method yields better results in terms of reliability and validity compared to previous methods.
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The study is meant to provide a more actor-oriented approach to the construction of political news by looking at the competition over news exposure during political waves in Israel. Political waves are sudden and significant changes in the political environ- ment that are characterized by a substantial increase in the amount of public attention centered on a political issue or event. A theoretical model is presented that attempts to explain who initiates political waves, which types of waves provide the most opportuni- ties for the participation of different types of political actors, and which actors are in the best position to be included when different types of waves are covered in the news media. Four major hypotheses are developed that focus on both the nature of the wave and the individual characteristics of the political actors who are competing for expo- sure. Among the most important individual traits are charismatic communication skills, political standing, and the extent to which the individual can be thematically linked to the wave topic. The research employed two primary sets of data. The first set of data came from a content analysis of news articles that appeared in two major Israeli newspapers over one full year. Thirty-nine separate waves emerged from this analysis. The second set of data contains individual assessments of 91 legislators who were elected to 14th Knesset. All of the major hypotheses were confirmed.
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A B S T R A C T ■ The 2003 Iraq War was highly controversial in the UK, generating domestic opposition and a widely supported anti-war movement, the Stop the War Coalition. This article assesses the extent to which anti-war protesters were successful at securing positive coverage in the British press immediately before and during the invasion of Iraq. The study shows that, although anti-war protesters received more favourable than unfavourable coverage prior to the war, once the war got under way, a `support our boys' consensus led to the narrowing of what Daniel Hallin has termed the `sphere of legitimate controversy' with the anti-war movement relegated to a `sphere of deviance'. The article also demonstrates that elite-led protest was more successful at influencing newspaper debate than grassroots protest. Overall, the results highlight the problems protest movements have in securing positive media representation during war. ■
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This paper examines whether anti-capitalist political activists are (mis)constructed as 'folk devils', through an examination of media coverage in the UK and Czech Republic. The construction, of such protestors, as violent criminals and dangerous 'anarchists' has, it is argued, influenced their treatment at protests by public authorities in London and Prague. The paper also offers, in juxtaposition to this representation of the current anti-capitalism movement, a discussion of the accounts of activists themselves. In particular it examines the activists' own perceptions of their engagement in the global social movement against capitalism. The paper is based on evidence drawn from the preliminary findings of interdisciplinary research into global social movements, and in particular the protests against the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in
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We track the strategic choices of Rhode Island Coalition against Domestic Violence (RICADV), a statewide collective actor working in one media market to expand opportunities to promote its mission. We reconstruct an organizational life history describing how RICADV built its communications capacity and deepened internal and external relations, thereby increasing media standing with Rhode Island journalists. To measure growth in media stand- ing quantitatively, we analyze print coverage of three comparable clusters of domestic vio- lence murders occurring in Rhode Island between 1996 and 2002. Over this interval, RICADV rose from invisibility to become Rhode Island reporters' foremost source for background information on domestic-violence murders. Also, the use of language identifying these mur- ders as domestic violence increased sixteen-fold. Stressing dialogic and relational approach- es, we conclude that despite restricted access to corporatized media markets, intentional collective actors can negotiate and expand media opportunities by strategically selecting mission-relevant media projects that match their existing resources and networks. Between 1996 and 2002, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) moved from media obscurity to become the primary information source about domestic vio- lence for Rhode Island reporters. This change was not part of a general trend. During the same seven-year period, most state domestic violence coalitions did not improve their media stan- ding appreciably.1 RICADV's success, therefore, merits analysis.
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In this article, some organizing principles and hypotheses are offered concerning the ways in which social movements interact with the news media and the outcomes for both parties. The structural part of the analysis focuses attention on the power and dependency aspects of the relationship and the consequences of the asymmetries. The cultural part focuses attention on the more subtle contest over meaning. Hypotheses on how social movement characteristics affect media coverage focus on movement standing, preferred framing, and sympathy. The authors argue for the importance of organization, professionalism, and strategic planning and for the benefits of a division of labor among movement actors. Hypotheses on how media characteristics affect movement outcomes focus on leadership, action strategy, and framing strategy. The authors argue for audience size, emphasis on the visual, and emphasis on entertainment values as influencing movements.
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The WTO protests in Seattle witnessed the emergence of an international citizens' movement for democratic globalization. With the tactical exploitation of television, the internet, and other technologies, Seattle also witnessed the enactment of forms of activism adapted to a wired society. In the wake of Seattle, this essay introduces the “public screen” as a necessary supplement to the metaphor of the public sphere for understanding today's political scene. While a public sphere orientation inevitably finds contemporary discourse wanting, viewing such discourse through the prism of the public screen provokes a consideration of new forms of participatory democracy. In comparison to the public sphere's privileging of rationality, embodied conversations, consensus, and civility, the public screen highlights dissemination, images, hypermediacy, publicity, distraction, and dissent. Using the Seattle WTO protests as a case study and focusing on the dynamic of violence and the media, we argue that the public screen accounts for technological and cultural changes while enabling a charting of the new conditions for rhetoric, politics, and activism.
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Social movements often seek to draw attention to issues they deem important by organizing public demonstrations with the aim of attracting mass media coverage. But only a small proportion of all public demonstrations receives any media attention. This article asks whether even the minimal coverage that demonstrations receive reveal any influence of social movements in shaping how issues are framed by the mass media. Analyzing newspaper and television news stories on Washington, D.C. protests held during 1982 and 1991, we ask whether news reports on protests are framed in ways consistent with the aims of protesters. Do demonstrators receive media coverage that highlights the issues about which they are concerned, or does coverage focus on the protest event itself, to the exclusion of the social issues that movements target? Our results support much of the surmising among media scholars, that even when movements succeed at obtaining the attention of mass media outlets, media reports portray protests in ways that may undermine social movement agendas. Despite this obstacle to communicating protest messages through demonstrations, movements engage in other forms of communication that can affect public interpretations of mass media frames.
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In an attempt to advance understanding of frame variation and the factors that account for it, we conduct a comparative study of how the Fall 2005 French "riots" were framed diagnostically and prognostically. We examine these framing activities across a diverse set of actors and assess the role of ideological, contextual, attributional and temporal factors hypothesized to account for the observed variation. The data come from a content analysis of articles on the French riots that appeared in newspapers from a half dozen countries during the period in which the riots occurred. Our findings, based primarily on variance and regression analyses, reveal varied support for our hypotheses, suggest the theoretical and analytical utility of examining frame variation beyond the French riots, and raise questions that call for further empirical inquiry regarding framing processes.
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Les personnes autochtones au Canada se sont lancées dans des centaines d'actions collectives. Utilisant la littérature sur les nouvelles et sur les événements collectifs, nous examinons d'une façon systématique les facteurs associés avec le nombre d'articles, leur placement sur la premiére page, et l'inclusion de photos. Nous trouvons que l'augmentation de la taille ou de la longueur d'un événement n'améliore pas sa couverture. Quand il s'agit de celle-ci, c'est uniquement la forme de l'événement qui compte. Certes, l'escalade de tactique accroít la quantité de couverture, mais c'est seulement les tactiques perturbatrices qui augmentent la couverture premiére page. Par contraste, ce sont principalement les routines de nouvelles du média et pas par les tactiques de la part des activistes qui déterminent l'inclusion d'une photo. Indigenous peoples in Canada have engaged in hundreds of collective action events. Drawing on the news as organization and collective action literatures, we conduct a systematic examination of coverage across events, and we assess the factors associated with the number of articles, front page placement, and the inclusion of photographs. We find that increasing the size and the length of an event does not improve coverage. The latter is determined exclusively by the form of the event, and it is disruptive tactics alone that increase front page coverage. The inclusion of pictures, however, is largely determined by media news routines rather than by activists tactics.
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In this article, I explore the emerging communication tactics that citizen committees and movements in L'Aquila, Italy, implemented during the Group of Eight (G8) summit in July 2009 - three months after a devastating earthquake left 80,000 residents homeless. I describe these tactics as 360-Degree Communication, an illuminating case study in citizen media and post-disaster political machinations. The focus is on how three main forms of communication (interpersonal, movements' relationships with mainstream media, and citizens' use of information and communication technologies) weaved together to support citizens' needs to organize and claim a more active role in the rebuilding process. This article also questions dominant views according to which political and civic life in Italy's south is based on a subservient relationship between power elites and residents, and that only rooted traditions of involvement with organized political parties and civil society can be a strong predictor of an active citizenry.
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From labor organizers to immigrant activists, from environmentalists to human rights campaigners, from global justice protesters to Islamic militants, this book shows how ordinary people gain new perspectives, experiment with new forms of action, and sometimes emerge with new identities through their contacts across borders. It asks to what extent transnational activism changes domestic actors, their forms of claim making, and their prevailing strategies. Does it simply project the conflicts and alignments familiar from domestic politics onto a broader stage, or does it create a new political arena in which domestic and international contentions fuse? And if the latter, how will this development affect internationalization and the traditional division between domestic and international politics?
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Ever since the anti-globalisation protests in Seattle in 1999 the adoption of new information and communications technologies (ICTs) by social movement activists has offered the prospect for the development of global cyberprotest. The Internet with its transnational many-to-many communication facility offers a revolutionary potential for social movements to go online and circumvent the 'official' messages of political and commercial organisations and the traditional media, by speaking directly to the citizens of the world. Furthermore the use of electronic mail (e-mail), mailing lists, websites, electronic forums and other online applications provide powerful media tools for co-ordinating the activity of often physically dispersed movement actors. Moreover, ICTs may also contribute to the important function of social movements of shaping collective identity and countering the claims and arguments of established political interests. A growing body of literature during the last decades of the twentieth century attests to the significant impact SMs have had upon the restructuring of the political landscape. Most of that literature addresses the more traditional actors and institutions (e.g. parliaments, political parties, bureaucracy etc.). Less attention has been devoted to those manifestations of political action that are concentrated around social movements and all kinds of more or less institutionalised and sustainable forms of citizen mobilisation. This book is a collection of cases that take a critical look into the way ICTs are finding their way into the world of social movements. © 2004 selection and editorial matter, Wim van de Donk, Brian D.Loader, Paul G.Nixon, Dieter Rucht. All rights reserved.
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Protest Policing: An IntroductionFrom Injunction to Influence: A Changing Pattern of Law EnforcementPolice Characteristics and Policing StylesConfiguration of Power and Protest PolicingMore Protest or Acquiescence? The Consequences of Protest PolicingSome Conclusions and Perspectives for Further Research
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For ten years, Herbert J. Gans spent considerable time in four major television and magazine newsrooms, observing and talking to the journalists who choose the national news stories that inform America about itself. Writing during the golden age of journalism, Gans included such headline events as the War on Poverty, the Vietnam War and the protests against it, urban ghetto disorders, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, and Watergate. He was interested in the values, professional standards, and the external pressures that shaped journalists' judgments. Deciding What's News has become a classic. A new preface outlines the major changes that have taken place in the news media since Gans first wrote the book, but it also suggests that the basics of news judgment and the structures of news organizations have changed little. Gans's book is still the most comprehensive sociological account of some of the country's most prominent national news media. The book received the 1979 Theatre Library Association Award and the 1980 Book Award of the National Association of Educational Broadcasters. This is the first work to be published under the Medill School of Journalism's "Visions of the American Press" imprint, a new journalism history series featuring both original volumes and reprints of important classics.
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The so called 'media debate' within radical social movements is often perceived as a polarising subject that is best left to one side to avoid flaring an unsolvable debate. The 'media debate' within such movements is often a euphemism for a dichotomised view of media which embraces 'radical media' (Downing et al. 2001) such as Indymedia while dismissing 'mainstream media'. Drawing on over a year of participant observation and 30 activist interviews, this article takes as its focus 'the media debate' through a case study of the Dissent! network, and members within it, in the preparation for an enactment of contention at the 2005 Gleneagles G8 Summit. The article argues that while a binary view of 'the media debate' existed within Dissent! at a network level, such a perspective fails to capture some network activists' efforts to move beyond dualistic thinking towards a more nuanced, flexible and 'pragmatic' perspective which values both media. The article also considers the impact of the 'media debate' within Dissent! which, it is argued, created a 'spiral of silence' (Noelle-Neuman 1974) in the network. The conclusion reasserts the need for activist dialogue on the advantages and limitations of all forms in order to move beyond dualistic views of media.
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This article explores the possibility of a new paradigm of media research that understands media, not as texts or structures of production, but as practice. Drawing on recent moves towards a theory of practice in sociology, this paradigm aims to move beyond old debates about media effects and the relative importance of political economy and audience interpretation, at the same time as moving beyond a narrow concentration on audience practices, to study the whole range of practices that are oriented towards media and the role of media in ordering other practices in the social world. After setting this new paradigm in the context of the history of media research, the article reviews the key advantages of this paradigm in mapping the complexity of media-saturated cultures where the discreteness of audience practices can no longer be assumed.
Article
Operating from the assumption that a primary dynamic of contemporary public argument involves the use of visual images the authors explore the argumentative possibilities of the `image events' (staged protests designed for media dissemination) employed by radical ecology groups. In contextualizing their discussion, the authors offer an analysis of the contemporary conditions for argumentation by describing the character and operation of public communication, social problem creation, and public opinion formation in a mass-mediated public sphere. The authors argue that image events are a form of postmodern argumentative practice, a kind of oppositional argument that creates social controversy, and animates and widens possibilities for debate. They further suggest that image events are a postmodern form of argument involving acts of protest which deliver images as argumentative fragments. Employing the tools of traditional argument theory the authors describe how images are capable of offering unstated propositions and advancing indirect and incomplete claims in ways that function to block enthymemes and advance alternatives. In concluding, the authors discuss the implications of image events for our understanding of the public sphere and the possibilities for argumentation in a postmodern age.
Chapter
1) the cultural construction of repertoires of contention and frames 2) contribution of cultural contradictions and historical events in providing opportunties for framing 3) framing as a strategic activity 4) frames are contested - within the movement and externally (competetive processes determine what frame dominates) 5) frames are transmitted and reframed in the mass media
Book
This exceptional volume examines “image events:” as a rhetorical tactic utilized by environmental activists. Author Kevin Michael DeLuca analyzes widely televised environmentalist actions in depth to illustrate how the image event fulfills fundamental rhetorical functions in constructing and transforming identities, discourses, communities, cultures, and world views. Image Politics also exhibits how such events create opportunities for a politics that does not rely on centralized leadership or universal metanarratives. The book presents a rhetoric of the visual for our mediated age as it illuminates new political possibilities currently enacted by radical environmental groups.
Article
Drawing on "active audience studies" and recent theories of mediation, the concept of "lay theories of media" is proposed as a means to understand how social movement actors think about and interact with news media as part of the "practice" of activism. The argument is made via a case study of the Dissent! network using data gathered from participant observation in the planning and enactment of protests at the 2005 Gleneagles G8 Summit in Scotland and 30 semi-structured interviews with activists. This article argues that Dissent! activists approached Gleneagles with existing knowledge and experience about news media and demonstrates how these "lay theories" informed their activism. The conclusion stresses the utility of "lay theories" in analyzing how perceived knowledge about how the media function influences or underwrites political activism.
Article
Drawing on Martin-Barbero's insistence on analysing the media's complex processes of social `mediation' and Scannell's insistence on grasping the phenomenal complexity of the media frame and how people interact with it, it is argued that an important, relatively neglected, dimension of the disruptive power of the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp (1981-) has been its challenge to the terms of the media frame, the `struggle for visibility' it represents. This struggle for visibility is examined in two stages - in relation to the early years of intense media coverage and in relation to the later years of media silence. In the concluding section, connections are opened up between Greenham Common and recent, more obviously `mediated' forms of protest action.
Article
This article analyzes the San Francisco Chronicle’s coverage of the controversy over logging Headwaters, an ancient redwood forest in northern California. It contends that the Chronicle’s fundamental way of representing reality and judging the legitimacy of claims is through favoring an instrumental over ethical rationality. It concludes that this logic ends up limiting the ways that the main actors (Earth First! and Pacific Lumber) and the controversy itself are framed. This impacts the discursive landscape that the Chronicle creates because those in what Habermas (1984) calls the ‘systems world’ are favored over those in the ‘lifeworld’. The Chronicle’s coverage ends up setting up a set of unwritten criteria that embrace particular values and practices as necessary in order to be taken seriously as a political actor or speaker in relation to this environmental issue. This results from various journalistic routines and frameworks employed for constructing knowledge and legitimating actors and voices.
Article
In 2005 225,000 people marched through Edinburgh enjoining the G8 to ‘Make Poverty History’. The coalition's own assessment of their campaign highlighted the importance of media by focusing on the extent of media coverage. Media outlets, however, have their own agendas. Detailed analysis of newspaper coverage preceding the G8 Summit suggests a disjuncture between campaign objectives and media frames. This paper explores how far newspaper accounts of G8-related protests were ‘framed’ in terms of social movement aims, and how far in terms of anticipated violence. Our findings lead us to caution against an uncritical equation of ‘coverage’ and ‘success’, offering a more nuanced account of the interplay between social movements and media.
Article
The study puts forth a theoretical framework for explaining the ways in which political action groups use the mass media. Rooted in the resource mobilization approach to conflict, media strategy is determined by the extent of collective resources. The mass media is seen as one of several alternative arenas of conflict through which groups attempt to influence the government. Compared to other more institutional arenas, access to the media is a relatively inexpensive alternative for small, unorganized groups. A more detailed understanding of media strategy comes through an analysis of the attempts of group leaders to meet specific groups needs and minimize particular risks. A participant-observation was carried out, involving three different action groups that were active during the Israeli withdrawal from Sinai. While all of the group leaders attempted to maximize collective rewards, their particular set of collective resources and needs were reflected in both the type of group risks they encountered and the media strategies they developed to minimize those risks.
Article
Media discourse and public opinion are treated as two parallel systems of constructing meaning. This paper explores their relationship by analyzing the discourse on nuclear power in four general audience media: television news coverage, newsmagazine accounts, editorial cartoons, and syndicated opinion columns. The analysis traces the careers of different interpretive packages on nuclear power from 1945 to the present. This media discourse, it is argued, is an essential context for understanding the formation of public opinion on nuclear power. More specifically, it helps to account for such survey results as the decline in support for nuclear power before Three Mile Island, a rebound after a burst of media publicity has died out, the gap between general support for nuclear power and support for a plant in one's own community, and the changed relationship of age to support for nuclear power from 1950 to the present.
Article
International meetings such as the G8 Summit have evolved from the sequestered gatherings of the economic elite to full-scale political media events. Dominant approaches to such events are often text-centered, focusing on the media's framing of protest and overlooking the actions and interactions at such sites. However, media events must also be examined from the perspectives of those involved in the event. Accordingly, a mediation approach is proposed to analyze the media practices of the Dissent! Network at the 2005 G8 Summit and specifically, Hori-Zone eco-village. After qualifying the G8 Summit as a media event, Hori-Zone is established as a site inside the media event. Protests launched from the camp are then analyzed, arguing that their position inside the media event transforms them from direct action into spectacular action. The conclusion reiterates the importance and implications of understanding political media events from the perspective of those inside the media event.
Article
This study examines shifting journalisticparadigms in a transitional society. Analyzing data from surveys of journalists and journalism students in the People’s Republicof China, the authors find that professional journalism has emerged as a direct competitor to the party-journalism paradigm. Although the former is manifested in journalists’ positive appraisal of professional news media, the latter is embodied in praising the official party organs. The professional perspective is associated with emphasis on the disseminator role of the media and the desire for more liberal arts training in journalism, whereas the party-journalism paradigm is related to the emphasis on the interpretive and popular advocacy roles and the desire for more training in communist propaganda. The two journalistic paradigms are also reflected in differences in evaluating various innovative media outlets in the reforms. The implications of the findings for studies on the articulation of professionalism and other journalism paradigms are discussed.
Article
Much research has explored the role media use plays in political participation. A limitation of this work is that alternative forms of media (e.g., protest Web sites) and participation (e.g., protests) have largely been ignored. Research shows that news media treat protest activity critically, suggesting mainstream media use might discourage alternative participation. This study employs a Random Digit Dialing survey (N = 476) of a large Midwestern community to examine the role mainstream and alternative media play in influencing both traditional political participation and protest forms of participation. The findings suggest that alternative media are positively related to alternative participation and underscore the emerging importance of Web-based media.
Article
Research on news coverage of social protest has yielded evidence of a “protest paradigm,” a framework of common news attributes that contribute to the marginalizing of protesters as social deviants. Analysis here investigates whether adherence to the protest paradigm varies by structural characteristics of the communities in which news organizations originate. More specifically, news organizations in less pluralistic communities may exhibit lower tolerance for social conflict than news organizations in more pluralistic communities. This research compares newspaper coverage of social protest from communities with varied levels of pluralism. Results showed that newspapers in less pluralistic communities were more critical of protesters when local government was the target and were less likely to quote protesters in stories. Further, newspapers in less pluralistic communities were more critical of protesters when stories were on the front page than those appearing elsewhere in the newspaper. Implications for understanding the protest paradigm and influences of community structure on news coverage patterns were explored.
Article
Using a frame analytic approach, we identify and analyze the media’s portrayal of the recent movement to increase U.S. biofuels’ investment and development. Using a dataset comprised of New York Times articles, we examine the contested terrain of biofuels discourse as some media coverage frames biofuels as beneficial, while other reporting constructs and packages counter-claims intended to resist development and portray biofuels as problematic. We focus on both the content of frames and strategies used by media claims-makers to assemble frames. We find that the media constructed three distinct frames in their efforts to shape public discourse: economic development, environment, and national security. These frames were constructed primarily by situating them within a larger political and economic context to gain public legitimacy. In this paper we will show how, in their efforts to construct meaning around biofuels, the media draw on frames that are coded with symbolic meanings that widely resonate with dominant cultural values.
Article
This article addresses prominent, disruptive direct action around the climate change issue, in the context of comparable activity across a range of political groupings. It exposes the processes by which such activities are refracted through the conventional media and the web, in a way that comparable studies fail to do. Results suggest they garner significant but unflattering attention from the former, partly as a consequence of the persistent pressures and imperatives that drive conventional journalism. Moreover, they put a question mark against the notion of the web as an egalitarian, democratised, alternative and separate avenue of communication for the otherwise disadvantaged. The conclusions question the viability of direct action activity and the unforeseen consequences that follow, as well as the overall balance of forces in the pressure group domain.