Historical Drifts Without Paradigm Shifts: A Historical Analysis of Newspaper Coverage of Social Protest
Unformatted Document Text:
Protest Coverage in Wisconsin Newspapers 1960-1999 -14-
using these two new variables to trace significant trends and differences over time in the types of
protests and issues covered by the urban and rural Wisconsin newspapers.
The five newspapers used for the analysis were recoded into a bivariate variable based
upon whether they were urban (Madison and Milwaukee) or rural (Watertown, Sauk Prairie, and
The original 15+ protest locations recorded in the original content analysis were recoded
into three categories: “Madison,” “Milwaukee,” and “other locations.”
While the content analysis yielded a large number of protest targets, these targets fell into
seven categories: (1) social entities (2) police (3) military (4) labor (5) schools (and universities)
(6) government, and (7) landlords.
Prominence was measured with two variables: the newspaper section that carried the
article, and the number of paragraphs in an article. Number of paragraphs was recoded into a 3-
item ‘low’ (1-15 paragraphs), ‘medium’ (16-30 paragraphs), ‘high’ (31 or more paragraphs)
What patterns of protest activities and social movements emerge over these four decades
in Wisconsin as reflected by their coverage in Wisconsin newspapers?
Overall, the crosstabulation tables revealed that a significant percentage (63.0%) of the
protests recorded in Wisconsin newspapers occurred in the 1960s. While there was a drastic
decrease in the percentage of protests (covered) in Wisconsin in the 1970s (to 10.2%), a
gradually increasing trend is noticed in each of the subsequent decades. The 1980s accounted for
11.3% of the protests and the 1990s accounted for 15.5% (X
=126.139, df = 15, p= .000).