Historical Drifts Without Paradigm Shifts: A Historical Analysis of Newspaper Coverage of Social Protest
Unformatted Document Text:
Protest Coverage in Wisconsin Newspapers 1960-1999 -18-
four decades (96.3% cases in the 1960s, 90.0% cases in the 1970s, 75.0% cases in the 1980s and
100.0% cases in the 1990s), with critical stances being insignificant or absent altogether (Table
RQ6. What variations in prominence of coverage accorded to issues protested can be
seen over time in Wisconsin newspapers through the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s?
Overall, most protests seemed to have warranted prime space in urban newspapers over
the four decades with 75.4% of the stories being featured either on the front page of the
newspaper or at the least in the main section rather than in another section (X
=45.621, df = 9, p=
.000). Relatively speaking, prime coverage of socialprotests occurred more in the 1960s (76.7%)
than in any of the other decades. In the 1980s and 1990s though, over 35% of the protest articles
were carried in a section other than the main section of the newspaper. In rural newspapers
=19.841, df = 9, p= .019), a similar pattern was observed with over 90% of the protest
coverage being in the main section if not the front page of the newspaper. However, there are
interesting differences between decades as the 1960s and 1990s had no protest articles in the
secondary sections of the newspapers, while the 1970s had 20.0% of the cases and 1980s had
50.0% of the articles located in the back sections of the newspapers.
For article size, both urban and rural papers across all decades used primarily small
articles (overall, 72.4% for urban papers and 80.9% for rural papers). Urban papers had an
increase in medium-size articles in the 1980s (34.1% of protest articles were medium-sized) and
1990s (30.0%). Rural papers increased in medium-sized articles in the 1990s (33.3% were
medium-sized) and had virtually no large-sized articles (Tables 6a and 6b).