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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 -20- more organized labor unions). During the 1970s and 1990s, there was a concomitant rise in labor and rural protest stories during the 1970s and 1990s. Finally, the 1980s and 1990s saw a rise of protests targeting the government with social issues such as apartheid, racism and abortion. Anti-abortion protest stories mainly featured localized protests within urban areas (such as Milwaukee) and the protests themselves were aimed at local clinics that performed abortions rather than larger ideological protests. Around this time, protests related to practices of apartheid in South Africa also received coverage. Another long-running issue featured in the coverage in the 1980s involved protests over the death of an African-American youth in police custody and the subsequent acquittal of the police officers charged in the case. Protestors attempts to develop this into an issue-based debate formed part of the reporting and analysis by Wisconsin newspapers in this instance. Overall the trends regarding the kinds of issues receiving coverage in Wisconsin newspapers did not exactly mirror national trends in social movements and issues of importance around the United States. At the same time, there was not a dramatic divergence between what was happening in Wisconsin and around the rest of the nation. Conspicuous by their absence in the 1970s and 1980s in Wisconsin newspaper coverage were issues related to the women’s movement, which at that time were at the height of their prominence nationwide. Similarly, anti- globalization protests did not receive much coverage from Wisconsin newspapers in the mid- to late-1990s when they were gaining much attention throughout the rest of the country. Location and Coverage Over time, a reader may get a slightly different notion of protests depending on whether he or she read an urban or rural paper. From the 1970s to the 1980s, urban papers increased their

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 -20-
more organized labor unions). During the 1970s and 1990s, there was a concomitant rise in labor
and rural protest stories during the 1970s and 1990s.
Finally, the 1980s and 1990s saw a rise of protests targeting the government with social
issues such as apartheid, racism and abortion. Anti-abortion protest stories mainly featured
localized protests within urban areas (such as Milwaukee) and the protests themselves were
aimed at local clinics that performed abortions rather than larger ideological protests. Around this
time, protests related to practices of apartheid in South Africa also received coverage. Another
long-running issue featured in the coverage in the 1980s involved protests over the death of an
African-American youth in police custody and the subsequent acquittal of the police officers
charged in the case. Protestors attempts to develop this into an issue-based debate formed part of
the reporting and analysis by Wisconsin newspapers in this instance.
Overall the trends regarding the kinds of issues receiving coverage in Wisconsin
newspapers did not exactly mirror national trends in social movements and issues of importance
around the United States. At the same time, there was not a dramatic divergence between what
was happening in Wisconsin and around the rest of the nation. Conspicuous by their absence in
the 1970s and 1980s in Wisconsin newspaper coverage were issues related to the women’s
movement, which at that time were at the height of their prominence nationwide. Similarly, anti-
globalization protests did not receive much coverage from Wisconsin newspapers in the mid- to
late-1990s when they were gaining much attention throughout the rest of the country.
Location and Coverage
Over time, a reader may get a slightly different notion of protests depending on whether
he or she read an urban or rural paper. From the 1970s to the 1980s, urban papers increased their


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