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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 -3- “Protests that are not reported by media do not take place.” --German political scientist Joachim Raschke (in Rucht, et al. 1999) Introduction Throughout its history, the United States has experienced various waves of protest activities and social movements. Among the most prominent were the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, the anti-war movement, and the anti-nuclear movement. To some degree, these groups share a quest for greater political participation, a critique of centralized,bureaucratic frameworks, and a skeptical view of the mainstream’s narrow, economic growth-centered conception of progress (Rucht, 1991). Moreover, these movements and numerous others share a common goal of challenging status quo policies and existing power relationships in society. In the face of limited direct access to policymakers, attempts by movement groups seeking to challenge the status quo often turn to the mass media to reach the larger populace as well as the powers-that-be (Rucht, 1991; Rucht, Koopmans & Neidhardt, 1999). Scholars have long recognized that mass media play a critical role in the functioning and cycles of social movements, in disseminating information about protests to the public, shaping public perceptions, and framing movements and their for the general public. Some, like Joachim Raschke, have even gone so far as to state that without media attention, the likelihood of a protest event succeeding is very low, if at all. Among the factors that can predict the likelihood of coverage of a protest event are its size, disruptiveness, level of conflict, proximity to the news organization, and location in an “issue attention cycle” (Downs, 1972; see also Snyder & Kelly, 1977; McCarthy et al., 1998; Oliver & Myers, 1999). Another important facet underlying

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 -3-
Protests that are not reported by media do not take place.”
--German political scientist Joachim Raschke (in Rucht, et al. 1999)

Introduction
Throughout its history, the United States has experienced various waves of protest
activities and social movements. Among the most prominent were the civil rights movement, the
women’s movement, the anti-war movement, and the anti-nuclear movement. To some degree,
these groups share a quest for greater political participation, a critique of centralized,bureaucratic
frameworks, and a skeptical view of the mainstream’s narrow, economic growth-centered
conception of progress (Rucht, 1991). Moreover, these movements and numerous others share a
common goal of challenging status quo policies and existing power relationships in society.
In the face of limited direct access to policymakers, attempts by movement groups
seeking to challenge the status quo often turn to the mass media to reach the larger populace as
well as the powers-that-be (Rucht, 1991; Rucht, Koopmans & Neidhardt, 1999). Scholars have
long recognized that mass media play a critical role in the functioning and cycles of social
movements, in disseminating information about protests to the public, shaping public
perceptions, and framing movements and their for the general public. Some, like Joachim
Raschke, have even gone so far as to state that without media attention, the likelihood of a
protest event succeeding is very low, if at all. Among the factors that can predict the likelihood of
coverage of a protest event are its size, disruptiveness, level of conflict, proximity to the news
organization, and location in an “issue attention cycle” (Downs, 1972; see also Snyder & Kelly,
1977; McCarthy et al., 1998; Oliver & Myers, 1999). Another important facet underlying


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