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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 -17- 1960s, this pattern was mirrored with government (41.5%) and labor (29.9%) being the two chief targets of protests recorded by Wisconsin newspapers in this decade. There was an interesting change in the 1970s with protests targeting schools or universities accounting for 59.3% of the cases, while labor was still the second most targeted entity at 29.6%. The 1980s again saw government becoming the most frequent target of protests (65.7%), while police were the second most targeted group at 14.3%. In the 1990s, a wider range of issues being protested is reflected in government (35.4%), social entities such as abortion clinics (18.8%), labor (16.7%) and schools (14.6%) being recorded as significant targets in Wisconsin newspapers’ protest coverage (Table 4). RQ5. Over four decades, what differences and/or similarities can be observed in the valence Wisconsin newspapers exhibited in their news stories about protest events? Chi-square tests (X 2 =19.364, df = 6, p= .003) reveal that a high majority of the articles in urban newspapers projected a neutral (51.9%) or supportive (28.1%) stance towards the protest event, and only 20.0% were critical of the protests. In rural newspapers, 70.2% of the protest stories were neutral in their stance, while a 23.4% of them were supportive of the protest. Within decades, the results are quite interesting although more or less reflect the overall trend. For urban newspapers, critical and supportive postures are of an almost equal proportion (22.0% and 24.8% respectively), while neutral stances were visible in 53.3% of the cases in the 1960s. In the 1970s, almost 90% of the cases registered a neutral stance, in the 1980s there was a more even distribution between the three categories (36.6% each for neutral and supportive stances and 26.8% for critical views), and in the 1990s neutral (46.0%) and supportive (40.0%) are the prevalent stances in most urban Wisconsin newspaper coverage of protests. In the case of rural newspapers, neutral and supportive stances are once again the most prevalent stances across all

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 -17-
1960s, this pattern was mirrored with government (41.5%) and labor (29.9%) being the two chief
targets of protests recorded by Wisconsin newspapers in this decade. There was an interesting
change in the 1970s with protests targeting schools or universities accounting for 59.3% of the
cases, while labor was still the second most targeted entity at 29.6%. The 1980s again saw
government becoming the most frequent target of protests (65.7%), while police were the second
most targeted group at 14.3%. In the 1990s, a wider range of issues being protested is reflected in
government (35.4%), social entities such as abortion clinics
(18.8%), labor (16.7%) and schools
(14.6%) being recorded as significant targets in Wisconsin newspapers’ protest coverage (Table
4).
RQ5. Over four decades, what differences and/or similarities can be observed in the
valence Wisconsin newspapers exhibited in their news stories about protest events?
Chi-square tests (X
2
=19.364, df = 6, p= .003) reveal that a high majority of the articles in
urban newspapers projected a neutral (51.9%) or supportive (28.1%) stance towards the protest
event, and only 20.0% were critical of the protests. In rural newspapers, 70.2% of the protest
stories were neutral in their stance, while a 23.4% of them were supportive of the protest. Within
decades, the results are quite interesting although more or less reflect the overall trend. For urban
newspapers, critical and supportive postures are of an almost equal proportion (22.0% and 24.8%
respectively), while neutral stances were visible in 53.3% of the cases in the 1960s. In the 1970s,
almost 90% of the cases registered a neutral stance, in the 1980s there was a more even
distribution between the three categories (36.6% each for neutral and supportive stances and
26.8% for critical views), and in the 1990s neutral (46.0%) and supportive (40.0%) are the
prevalent stances in most urban Wisconsin newspaper coverage of protests. In the case of rural
newspapers, neutral and supportive stances are once again the most prevalent stances across all


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