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Historical Drifts Without Paradigm Shifts: A Historical Analysis of Newspaper Coverage of Social Protest
Unformatted Document Text:  Protest Coverage in Wisconsin Newspapers 1960-1999 -12- Milwaukee. Finally, Park Falls is published in Northern Wisconsin, 247 miles from Madison and 314 miles from Milwaukee. Second, the five papers chosen represent a range in community size, an important variable in the theory of conflict and community structure put forth by Tichenor, Donohue, and Olien (Donohue, Olien & Tichenor, 1985; Tichenor, Donohue & Olien, 1973; Tichenor, Donohue, & Olien, 1980). While the size of a community’s population is only one indicator of what Tichenor, Donohue and Olien label “community pluralism,” it is a central indicator. The community used in this sample spanned from the heterogeneous metropolitan community of Milwaukee (pop. 595,508) to Madison (210,377) to Watertown (21,928) to Sauk City (3,129) to Park Falls (2,753), a small rural community. Finally, the sample represented both daily newspapers (the Milwaukee Journal, a major metropolitan daily newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal a medium-sized daily with a regional circulation, and the Watertown Times, a small daily newspaper) and weekly newspapers (the Sauk Prairie Star and the Park Falls Herald). In the same vein that community structure may in part determine how conflict is covered in local papers, the type of paper (weekly vs. daily) may play a similar role in that they may ultimately serve different functions. It is useful, then, to look at the role of a newspaper’s distribution frequency in the coverage of social protest. Coders (N = 7) were randomly assigned to code all protest articles within three-month time periods for a given paper. The coders were instructed to code all protest articles using the criteria of protest definition and location. A protest article was defined as any newspaper article (straight news, opinion, editorial, etc.) that dealt specifically with either protesters or a protest event. This includes articles dealing with protest activities, court trials resulting from protest

Authors: Devanathan, Narayan., Boyle, Michael., Shevy, Mark., McCluskey, Michael., Stein, Susan., Hillback, Elliott. and McLeod, Douglas.
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Protest Coverage in Wisconsin Newspapers 1960-1999 -12-
Milwaukee. Finally, Park Falls is published in Northern Wisconsin, 247 miles from Madison
and 314 miles from Milwaukee.
Second, the five papers chosen represent a range in community size, an important
variable in the theory of conflict and community structure put forth by Tichenor, Donohue, and
Olien (Donohue, Olien & Tichenor, 1985; Tichenor, Donohue & Olien, 1973; Tichenor,
Donohue, & Olien, 1980). While the size of a community’s population is only one indicator of
what Tichenor, Donohue and Olien label “community pluralism,” it is a central indicator. The
community used in this sample spanned from the heterogeneous metropolitan community of
Milwaukee (pop. 595,508) to Madison (210,377) to Watertown (21,928) to Sauk City (3,129) to
Park Falls (2,753), a small rural community.
Finally, the sample represented both daily newspapers (the Milwaukee Journal, a major
metropolitan daily newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal a medium-sized daily with a regional
circulation, and the Watertown Times, a small daily newspaper) and weekly newspapers (the
Sauk Prairie Star and the Park Falls Herald). In the same vein that community structure may in
part determine how conflict is covered in local papers, the type of paper (weekly vs. daily) may
play a similar role in that they may ultimately serve different functions. It is useful, then, to look
at the role of a newspaper’s distribution frequency in the coverage of social protest.
Coders (N = 7) were randomly assigned to code all protest articles within three-month
time periods for a given paper. The coders were instructed to code all protest articles using the
criteria of protest definition and location. A protest article was defined as any newspaper article
(straight news, opinion, editorial, etc.) that dealt specifically with either protesters or a protest
event. This includes articles dealing with protest activities, court trials resulting from protest


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