Good Press: Why Movements Get Covered and with Substance

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 4:00 PM
Room: 418
Oral Presentation
Edwin AMENTA , University of California, Irvine
When did and why do movements and SMOs sometimes gain sustained newspaper coverage and when and why is this coverage sometimes substantive? Our story-centered argument holds that the social organization and operating procedures of the news media account for its differential treatment of institutional political officials and movements, but also provide openings for sustained and substantive coverage for movement actors, a potential cultural consequence for movements. We argue that the main routes to both sustained and substantive coverage are for movements to mimic and challenge institutional political actors and processes, such as by contesting elections, preempting legislative processes, and launching court cases. Other routes include mounting successful strikes and waves of protest.  Routes to sustained coverage that are not expected to be substantive include investigations, trials, violent opposition, and occupations. We use the data from the Political Organizations in the News project to identify the longest sustained coverage “runs” for SMOs across the twentieth century.  The results show that 37 high-profile SMOs gained sustained coverage 302 times.  Analyses of the subjects and the assignments of authors in these coverage runs provide preliminary support for our story-centered arguments.