Stuck In a Rut: The Protest Paradigm

The Black Lives Matter movement has been successful at drawing attention, albeit not necessarily good attention. A study done by Joy Leopold and Myrtle Bell looked at various mainstream newspapers to see how they covered BLM protests. Insert the protest paradigm. 

To make their work easier and help push out articles faster, journalists classify articles into specific areas. Although effective, it can result in misleading coverage of protests. 

The protest paradigm consists of news frames such as riot frames, crime frames and carnival frames. The study found that BLM was often put into the riot frame which focused on the  ‘destruction’ of a protest rather than the message itself. 

The protest paradigm also includes statements from officials. Think back to Charleston and Trump was asked his opinion. “There are good people on both sides.” 

  1. Incorrect
  2. Takes away from what really needs to be covered
  3. Validates white supremacists 

This can also be lumped with asking the public opinion which is most likely uninformed. 

The final parts of the protest paradigm is delegitimization and demonization. The former is when a reporter fails to explain what the protest is about and the latter is focusing on destruction or arrests made during the protest. It’s pretty obvious how detrimental this would be to the BLM movement with the racist social expectations in this country.  

Black Lives Matter is constantly rejected by our society. How many ‘blue lives matter’ stickers do you see everyday? The media shouldn’t be making the problem worse, but instead taking the time needed to explain BLM for everyone to understand. 

One thought on “Stuck In a Rut: The Protest Paradigm

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  1. I agree that the coverage of BLM has been unsuccessful in being explained. It seems that journalists do tend to focus on the arrests and destruction. I also loved that you brought up Charleston, because it is so relevant. It really shows how Trump isn’t just doing nothing about the movement – he’s hurting it. By saying these white supremacists are “good people” is honestly sickening and as you said, it validates them. BLM won’t be taken seriously until journalists take it seriously and cover the meaning of it, not just who/what gets hurt and who gets arrested.

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