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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 -15- Of the six broader topic/issue categories noted earlier, labor (37.7%), war (26.8%) and social (24.2%) issues constituted the topics for a majority of the protests covered by the newspapers used in this analysis. Trends in relative significance of each issue category within decades were also very interesting. In the 1960s, war and labor protests accounted for almost three-quarters (73.0%) of all protests in that decade (as covered in Wisconsin newspapers), while in the 1970s labor issues accounted for 92.6% of all protest topics. In the 1980s, agendas changed drastically with social issues accounting for a high majority (73.3%) of all protest stories, while labor protests virtually disappeared. The 1990s saw a resumption of labor unrest with 43.9% of the protest stories covering this issue. Social issues still retained their importance in the 1990s accounting for 29.3% of the stories in this analysis (Table 1). RQ2. What differences and/or similarities are visible in the coverage of various protests between urban and rural newspapers in Wisconsin over four decades? Results from the chi-square tests using the "newpaper" (urban vs. rural) variable and the "decade" (1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s) variable revealed somewhat similar trends over time between urban and rural newspapers in Wisconsin in their coverage of protests (n=308, X 2 =10.595, df = 3, p= .014). In the urban newspapers, more than half the protest stories recorded were from the 1960s (57.9%), with a drastic drop-off in the 1970s (7.3%), and thereafter registering a steady increase in the following decades (15.7% in the 1980s and 19.2% in the 1990s) . In rural newspapers, there is a continuously decreasing trend over time up to the 1980s, with the 1960s accounting for 57.4% of the protest stories, 21.3% for the 1970s, 8.5% for the 1980s and then increasing to 12.8% in the 1990s. Within decades, the results clearly reveal that urban newspapers provide more coverage of protest events than rural newspapers. In the 1960s,

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 -15-
Of the six broader topic/issue categories noted earlier, labor (37.7%), war (26.8%) and
social (24.2%) issues constituted the topics for a majority of the protests covered by the
newspapers used in this analysis. Trends in relative significance of each issue category within
decades were also very interesting. In the 1960s, war and labor protests accounted for almost
three-quarters (73.0%) of all protests in that decade (as covered in Wisconsin newspapers), while
in the 1970s labor issues accounted for 92.6% of all protest topics. In the 1980s, agendas changed
drastically with social issues accounting for a high majority (73.3%) of all protest stories, while
labor protests virtually disappeared. The 1990s saw a resumption of labor unrest with 43.9% of
the protest stories covering this issue. Social issues still retained their importance in the 1990s
accounting for 29.3% of the stories in this analysis (Table 1).
RQ2. What differences and/or similarities are visible in the coverage of various protests
between urban and rural newspapers in Wisconsin over four decades?
Results from the chi-square tests using the "newpaper" (urban vs. rural) variable and the
"decade" (1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s) variable revealed somewhat similar trends over time
between urban and rural newspapers in Wisconsin in their coverage of protests (n=308,
X
2
=10.595, df = 3, p= .014). In the urban newspapers, more than half the protest stories recorded
were from the 1960s (57.9%), with a drastic drop-off in the 1970s (7.3%), and thereafter
registering a steady increase in the following decades (15.7% in the 1980s and 19.2% in the
1990s)
.
In rural newspapers, there is a continuously decreasing trend over time up to the 1980s,
with the 1960s accounting for 57.4% of the protest stories, 21.3% for the 1970s, 8.5% for the
1980s and then increasing to 12.8% in the 1990s. Within decades, the results clearly reveal that
urban newspapers provide more coverage of protest events than rural newspapers. In the 1960s,


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