Take the front page - exploring differences in the use of civil disobedience and their effects on news coverage
Social movements face a dilemma when it comes to media coverage. The more severe a protest, the more attention it receives, but the higher the risk of negative coverage. Civil disobedience, an illegal and nonviolent form of protest, balances precariously on this line. Yet, little is known about its effectiveness in terms of media coverage. This theory-building study searches for factors that may contribute to effective media coverage, even when using radical forms of action. It focuses on four aspects of a protest that lie within control of social movements: the act, the claim, the organization and movement-media interaction. Two recent protests in the Netherlands are compared: the Greenpeace protest of December 14th, 2019, and the farmers’ protest of December 18th, 2019. By interviewing activists and analyzing news articles about both protests, media coverage is connected to differences underlying the two events. Five hypotheses are formulated to describe factors that may influence media coverage of civil disobedience, and to encourage further research on the subject.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen