Tag Archives: Media Coverage

From Causes to Cars: Reputation Matters!

By Deana A. Rohlinger

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Posted in Flickr Creative Commons by Neil Cooler

We spend a lot of time evaluating reputation. We research the reputation of a manufacturer before buying a car, investigate the reputation of a neighborhood before renting a home, and carefully consider the reputation of an individual before deciding to act on his/her professional advice. Despite the importance of reputation in everyday life, we largely have ignored its influence on the course and outcomes of social movements.

Activist groups mobilizing around a shared, general goal rarely stand as equals, shoulder-to-shoulder, united against an authority. Ultimately, a target decides which group to deal with and a social movement organization’s reputation, or, among other things, the ability of a group to meet the institutional norms of its target, is a critical factor in its decision-making.1 Continue reading


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Media Bias, Media Endogeneity

By Charles Seguin

Citizens of large nation-states generally receive most of their information on social movements through news media. Accordingly, the media are one of the central institutions targeted by social movements. In attempting to understand movement effects on media, movement scholars have sometimes, but certainly not always, conceptualized media-movement interactions within what I would call the “bias model.” The idea behind the bias model is that media attention and framing are subject to numerous organizational, cultural, political, and institutional selection processes which filter movement messages and events to determine which will receive coverage and how they will be framed. That is, some population of movement events and messages exist in the world, and are distorted in news media representations through differential media selection and interpretation. Within the bias model, the media nicely fits the analogy of a movement target—a wholly separate entity at which a movement takes aim. While we’ve learned a lot from the bias model, it is incomplete, and often misleading. The media-movement relationship is endogenous for two reasons. Continue reading

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When Bad Coverage is Good Coverage

We know a lot about the ways media coverage shapes mobilization. Supportive coverage can help movements challenge dominant discourses, expand support, and gain leverage (E.g. Gamson et al 1992). Conversely, negative coverage can delegitimize movements in various ways, including by skewing coverage away from substantive issues or disproportionately highlighting violence in the movement (E.g. Gitlin 1980). Although research on movements and media take varying methodological and substantive approaches, it is a generally accepted proposition that, all things being equal, positive media coverage supports movement mobilization. Yet we would expect it likely is not this simple.

Some movements have especially salient frames about media bias that are central to their grievances. Conservative movements in the U.S. in particular have long-held perceptions of liberal bias about the “mainstream” media. This belief appears broadly held and supported by major conservative media (e.g. Brock 2004). Consequently, negative coverage may have a complicating effect on some (especially conservative?) movements. Continue reading

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Olympic Sized Protest

The Olympic Committee may stifle protest but it was alive and well in the 2012 London Games’ Opening Ceremony. See this article in Sports Illustrated for more on the statements made and the Olympic history of protest (excluding those made by the PLO in the murder of Israeli athletes in 1972). Political opinions were expressed last night in the pageantry about national healthcare, women’s suffrage, global cooperation, peace/war, internet repression & access, labor/capitalism, and more.

2012 London Olympic Opening Ceremony

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Studying The Public Response to Police & Protesters

It is widely recognized that police and protesters compete for the moral high ground, as the iconic image from the US civil rights reminds us.

Christian Davenport and I have begun a Civil Society and Democratic Expression research initiative that we hope will serve as a model for how we should collect data so that we can better study the street politics of social movements. Matt Baggetta kindly posted about the “within the protest” street portion of the project, and we will post soon about our effort to also document the police deployment “behind the scenes” during large events such as the recent march and rally in Chicago organized by the Coalition Against NATO/G8 War & Poverty Agenda.

Because the street politics of protest can be understood as a competition between protesters and police to earn the moral high ground we believe it is vital to study not only the interactions of protesters and police on the street, but also the resulting press coverage and public opinion. Continue reading


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