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Bunch writes: "Call me crazy, but as a journalist marking his 30th anniversary in the news business this year, I would think that an ongoing protest like that in my hometown would at least make the local newspaper. Not necessarily on Page 1, and not even every day necessarily. But at least wedged somewhere between the various ads for Tiffany and Saks, etc."

PHOTO CAP/ALT: [Occupy Wall Street demonstrators hold signs and a flag in front of Liberty Plaza, NYC, 09/19/11. (photo: Cate Woodruff/Reader Supported News)
PHOTO CAP/ALT: [Occupy Wall Street demonstrators hold signs and a flag in front of Liberty Plaza, NYC, 09/19/11. (photo: Cate Woodruff/Reader Supported News)

Big Media Blacks-Out Wall Street Protests

By Will Bunch, Attytood Blog

21 September 11


Occupy Wall Street: Take the Bull by the Horns

hat do you think was running in the pro-government, pro-Mubarek newspapers in Egypt back in February, when crowds of unhappy and often un- or under-employed citizens began crowding into Tahrir Square? I don't know the answer to that, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say there probably wasn't a lot of coverage of what was happening in Tahrir Square, at least at first. They were probably running cute feature stories about an old-time falafel stand in a changing Cairo neighborhood, or maybe articles on parking problems at the Great Pyramids. They certainly weren't going to call attention to the elephant in the room that was about to knock over a corrupt and decadent society.

I was thinking about that this week, during the extra time I had on my hands because I wasn't reading in the pages of the New York Times or the Washington Post about the Wall Street protests that have been going on now for four days, with hundreds of disenchanted and disaffected youth camping out nightly in a lower Manhattan park, marching on the financial district by day, getting arrested and provoking a large police presence including a phalanx of NYPD cops guarding the notorious Merrill Lynch bronze idol of greed.

Call me crazy, but as a journalist marking his 30th anniversary in the news business this year, I would think that an ongoing protest like that in my hometown would at least make the local newspaper. Not necessarily on Page 1, and not even every day necessarily. But at least wedged somewhere between the various ads for Tiffany and Saks, etc.

Maybe that explains why I've never gotten a job at the New York Times.

Apparently for editors in their plush 8th Avenue skyscraper, the Wall Street Day of Rage is not among the news that the New York Times considers fit to print (emphasis on the word "print" ... more on that aspect in a second). Instead, since as many as 2,000 demonstrators against Wall Street and government corruption first crowded into Manhattan's Zuccotti Park on Saturday (the numbers have dwindled since then), the metro section of the Times has gone wild with the imminent closing of the orginal Ray's Pizza as well as the looming disappearance of parking meters(maybe the Gray Lady is just selling nostalgic to newspapers' graying audience?)

The Times isn't unique, though. There don't seem to have been any print articles in the Washington Post, either, and my sense is that television news coverage - even on "liberal" MSNBC - has been non-existent or less-than-minimal at best.

That's not to say there hasn't been some level of news coverage - including from the newsrooms of the New York Times. The Times has published three blog posts about the protests, although they were not easy to find on the web site (here and here - you had to navigate well below the layer of Ray's Pizza) and the Washington Post has also published blog posts (here and here) and even photo essays, which is good way of saying "look at these crazy and colorful kids" without addressing the actual issues. I've noticed that a lot of the American coverage that I found through Google News was in the form of online photo essays. Look, I'm somebody with one foot in the blogging world and the other foot still planted in the mentality of the old-fashioned newsroom, and I can tell you that sometimes buried blog posts and photo essays are a way to say you "covered" something without, you know, actually covering it, not in a way that counts.

Go back to the Tahrir Square analogy for a minute. Remember that as soon as the Egyptian protests heated up, though they may have not gotten much ink in state-kowtowing local media, they got a lot of coverage from news outlets in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere around the world. Wouldn't it be really ironic if the Wall Street protest - while largely ignored here at home - was getting more in-depth coverage in foreign news organizations like the Guardian, the Daily Mail, and the International Business Times?


You could make the argument that the American media just doesn't like covering protests. But then you'd be only half-right. News organizations haven't spared many resources in tracking conservative Tea Party protests across America - even though the numbers of people attending those rallies have fallen off sharply in the last year. It's just left-leaning protests that the media gets really queasy about covering, as evidenced by this bizarre case right here in Philadelphia involving the Inquirer's reluctance to pay attention to protests at the home of Cigna's CEO.

Here's a perfect example collected in March by Think Progress:

While the tea party demonstrations - which were estimated to have been attended by 1,500-2,000 people according to Capitol Hill police officers - received an enormous amount of press coverage, a larger demonstration took place. A crowd estimated to be 2,500-strongby Capitol Hill police officers marched through the streets of Washington to mark the seventh anniversary of the war in Iraq and to call on Obama to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and focus all of his efforts on domestic priorities like health care and education.

The news media did not find the second, larger march to be as newsworthy as the tea party demonstration. Using the media data-mining tool Critical Mention, a search by ThinkProgress of the keyword "protest" of the three major cable news networks - CNN, MSNBC, and Fox - found that the tea party protests were covered 31 times between March 19th and March 21st, and the antiwar demonstration was only covered twice.

So what gives? Are the Koch Brothers or Lloyd Blankfein of Goildman Sachs using their secret red phones to call top editors and order a news blackout (or more appropriately in this case, a brownout)? Uh, not exactly. That said, if you don't think a pervasive pro-Establishment, don't-rock-the-boat bias exists in the modern American newsroom, then apparently you took a very, very long nap during the Iraq War and the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis. But there's also other more subtle forces at work.

As we've discussed frankly here before, many reporters are somewhat liberal in their personal leanings - not leftist, not hardly, but somewhere on the center-left on matters like the environment or abortion. And since professional journalists are often obsessed with proving their "balance" above all else, and weak-kneed om reacting to right-wing criticism dating back to Spiro Agnew, that means bending over backwards to show they're not ignoring something conservative like the Tea Party, even if they think actual Tea Partiers reside on some other planet. Meanwhile, as journalism reform guru Jay Rosen of NYU has discussed on many occasions, the other ultimate goal of the modern journalist is to appear "savvy." And what could possibly be more embarrassingly unsavvy than taking seriously the ambitions of a band of granola-eating missed-the-60s dirty bleeping hippie wannabes - crazy enough to think that they can change the world.

And so actually changing the world is something that only happens halfway around the world, in places like Cairo.

It can't happen here.

Maybe some editors somewhere can put down their slice of Ray's Pizza for a minute and think about the news brownout in lower Manhattan in the context of Tahrir Square, and what are the big-picture things that are really important in America in 2011. Like deep unrest over the wrong track this nation is headed down.

Maybe one or two of those newsroom chiefs will be ashamed at how it's played out so far, but I kind of doubt it. your social media marketing partner


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We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

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Founder, Reader Supported News

+87 # fredboy 2011-09-21 15:37
If it had been five tea baggers, big media would have shared breathtaking 24 hour coverage.

These clowns are in bed with Wall Street. Whores all.
+15 # PiscesCurveUS 2011-09-21 22:21
...'all that money can buy' is how I think the cliche goes...

But what's up with this "Day of Rage" schick? We're not 'barbarians at the gate' banging our heads.

The problem we face (late stage monopoly/deregu lated/unregulat ed capitalism) is not that complicated. And the most feasible solution (we need to start having Public Banks) is not that complicated either.

No 'Western' currency, as of today, is issued by an (open, accountable, civil) Public Bank. And no US state- except North Dakota (from 1919)- has a Public State Bank to handle all state public finances.

From this cliffhanger-toe hold, however, a campaign to 'take back the money power' from the private globo-cartel (repr. in USA as 'Wall St. banks') has begun (in recent decades) and has started to make some progress (in recent years, months). Public activist Bill Still's Report #27 is about the Calif. Legislature passing a bill towards the establishment of a State Bank of California- apparently North Dakota style- as N. Dakota has many, if not most, of the best macro-economic stats of the 50 states these days. And its peaceful, too.
+14 # Pearls 2011-09-21 15:53
So what good are they? ATT doesn't decide if it is ok to call you, yet.
+58 # midwegian 2011-09-21 15:57
Two things I have always viewed as sacrosanct: Journalism and libraries. I've certainly had to rethink the news. Kudos, Mr. Bunch, for calling attention to this sad state of journalistic affairs. A 99%'r and a voter!!
+44 # Wink 2011-09-21 16:23
Scary, isn't it? The Constitution guarantees freedom of the press, for all the good it does. Yet the media consistently chooses to slant and manipulate the news to their own priorities- as well as possible external pressures otherwise to omit and/ or ridicule various reports. As just one example- consider UFOs. We have been programmed by our media (and insert government-dire cted here) to believe that all such reports are rediculous hallucinations of the mentally ill and mis-understood otherwise normal phenomena. If so, why is it that other governments around the world now openly admit (England, Belgium, Russia, China, India, etc.) that such phenomena do occur, and that they very likely may originate from beyond our solar system. Yet such reports- when they do receive major media coverage- typically ridicule the person reporting the occurrence, to include creepy music and references to little green men, various science fiction movies, etc. There are other examples, often camouflaged as sensitive classified information, or foreign propaganda. Regardless, what we do read, hear and see is often heavily filtered. One must ask why, and who is responsible. Then, what can be done about it? Hitler proved most effectively that it is much easier to get the public to believe the big lie. It should come as no surprise then, that our government lies to us "for our own good."
+21 # wwway 2011-09-21 16:52
Our local newspaper covered with much font page space the Tea Party Patriots promotion and take over of teaching the constitution in our local public schools. Our local paper is run by a tea party patriot. This says a lot about how conservatives use media locally and nationaly.
+20 # in deo veritas 2011-09-21 17:55
I don't know how the baggers can teach a damned thing about a Constitution that they defile and defame with every putrid breath they take. Allowing these fascists to enter a clasroom is nothing more than treason. They would be considered patriots in Nazi Germany but deserve no respect here. Stop them before it becomers the Fourth reich!
+29 # purple haze 2011-09-21 16:52
It is called fascism folks. We are in the beginning throes of it. It will only get worse if people don't begin making a stand against it. Big corporate bucks own the media outlets. The publish what they want us to hear and see. Thank God for outlets like Reader Supported News. These are the outlets where you will see the truth. Corporate fascism folks, and the Republibaggers are kissing their a---s big time. Vote straight Democratic people, or it will only get worse. These people have no conscience, or compassion for their fellow human beings. They only care about themselves and MONEY. THEY WANT IT ALL.
+15 # lobdillj 2011-09-21 18:46
Quoting purple haze:
Vote straight Democratic people, or it will only get worse.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but they have taken over both political parties. Have any of the outrageous unconstitutiona l power grabs of Bush/Cheney been undone by Obama? Don't we still have endless war? Guantanamo? an economy run by Wall Streeters? Get real! We need a new political party.
+4 # Glen 2011-09-22 05:54
We need a new government. Period. Too late for that, so we had better adapt and consider how we will deal with it all in the future.
+21 # brucezell 2011-09-21 16:58
Large corporate media can not be trusted, ever. Their presumed obligation to society is to investigate and inform. It just never works that way! The longest war in american history, the Drug War, is a result of lies and misinformation. It will never be any different.
+18 # DLT888 2011-09-21 17:01
Yup, these days with corrupt media, we can know we are all doing the right thing when the corrupt media doesn't show up. It means they are TOO SCARED to report on something of this magnitude.

Independent Media is all I trust.
+14 # Phlippinout 2011-09-21 17:02
add ALjazeera to the list of media that has no coverage at all
+22 # davidhp 2011-09-21 17:10
I believe in addition to the fact that the media is owned by these same Wall St robber barons, that these protests are being ignored because the majority of the protesters are young. The media has a tendency to ignore young people who hit the streets to protest - they did it when I was young and protesting the Vietnam War and they are doing it now. Tea Party gatherings are mostly older white men so they get more attention. The media needs to wake up and see youth fighting for their future and take them seriously. The seeds of revolutionary movements to change society seem to originate with the youth who have a stronger sense of being able to make a difference outside the normal political process.

It takes hitting the streets and sticking to hitting the streets to make faster change in this country. I applaud the enthusiasm of these young people in New York - they know very well that a change to business as usual on Wall St is needed to give them an economically secure future and to make America into a fairer and more just society.

The fact that they are being ignored and blacked out shows that someone fears what they have to say also.
+1 # Regina 2011-09-23 09:56
It's more than age that distinguishes the so-called Tea Party" -- that gang of know-nothings represents and supports the plutocrats who own the media as well as the money sources, so they scratch each other's back devotedly.
+14 # MEBrowning 2011-09-21 17:17
It's been disgusting seeing respected journalists backtrack, always after the fact, on everything from the run-up to the war in Iraq to the fraudulent banking practices of the last few years: "Yes, we should have been more on top of what was going on. In hindsight, we didn't ask the hard questions. We should have done a better job ...." OK, Fourth Estate, now's your chance to make good. Will you? I doubt it.
+17 # kalpal 2011-09-21 17:21
How can anyone expect MSM owned by America's wealth royalty to report attacks on said royalty? Such attack are virtually seditious and must not ever be disseminated to the general public. The public may get its pitchforks and torches and come calling on the royalty if it is sufficiently riled up. Rope is an inexpensive and easily purchased commodity.
+17 # Jorge 2011-09-21 18:19
Instead of use of "MSM", which implies majority support, let's use "CCM"-- Corrupt Corporate Media, it is more appropriate for control of the major media by elite uber-rich CONservatives.
+23 # jon 2011-09-21 17:36
You can bet your bottom dollar that the same powers that control the MSM are working to make the internet controlled, too.

We are lucky to have RSN.
+2 # Tee 2011-09-21 17:49
I prefer to call the media the Zionist corporate media because of the bias against working people and blackout of anything positive to say about the Palestinians everything positive to say about the Israei's.
+12 # in deo veritas 2011-09-21 17:50
Evidently the media like the federal government are controlled by the corporate fascist oligarchy. They are collectively the enemy of America and democracy i.e. run by traitors. The internet is the only news source that we can rely on. How long before they find a way to shut it down too. We will be lucky to last until a 2012 election. Get your passports before it is too late!
+7 # oakes721 2011-09-21 18:00
It's a lot of bull that blows his own horn and thinks it's harmony ~ while silencing other voices.
+6 # in deo veritas 2011-09-21 18:01
Predictions that newspapers would become a thing of the past in this increasingly electronic age are likely to come true very soon. Who the hell would miss them? Based on their failure to report real news like the demonstrations they have indeed outlived their usefullness. Everyone should stop buying them or cancel subscriptions and maybe we could put them out of business. Their only use to me is using them to start fires in the fireplace or line a litterbox.
+12 # Gaiabreeze 2011-09-21 18:19
Indeed, the rope should be made out of American grown hemp. That original newsprint baron Hearst was one one who helped start this mess, getting heavily invested in timber for his papers. Cannabis became marijuana, hemp was replaced by pulp for paper, petroleum products started to replace hemp oils and the whole country got flushed by the need for news. Obviously, we're still being fed a lot per-selected content even today.
I believe every problem we have stems from the Patriot act and an abuse of freedom of information (citizens should have privacy and the government should operate with transparency) and could be solved by Industrial hemp and an end to Cannabis Prohibition (big pharma and fossil fuels included).
Keeping Cannabis Criminal is CRAZY!
+13 # Helen 2011-09-21 20:41
At least PBS should be covering this protest, but they certainly haven't done much yet. Those of us who contribute need to let them know how we feel.
+1 # Jorge 2011-09-22 00:33
PBS is Chevron News.
+2 # reiverpacific 2011-09-21 21:57
+10 # giraffe 2011-09-21 23:02
And Yahoo got caught blocking emails that published these "wall street" protests!

We have one chance left:
Vote in 2012 -- DEMOCRATIC all the way. If we need a new Supreme in those next years - we do not want another Thomas/Scalia/ Aliota -- with their "person hood" to give us the "best govt money can buy.
+3 # propsguy 2011-09-22 00:33
bombard the mainstream media with phone calls demanding coverage. if you clog up their phone lines, they will listen

MSNBC 1-212-664-3720
WCBS 1-800-CH-2-NEWS
WABC 1-212-456-3146 OR 3173
CNN 1-404-827-1500
NEWS12 1-800-316-TIPS
-9 # Joeconserve 2011-09-22 08:13
As I recall the Tea Party attendance at their gathering in DC was a factor of 10 or so above the 2500 Mr Bunch counted. Then there was Glen Beck's assembly estimated to be above 500K. Seems there is a message here.
+7 # davidhp 2011-09-22 10:20
And that message is that the media lied about the numbers bused in by the Koch brothers.
+7 # fredboy 2011-09-22 10:16
To wwway:
the terms "tea party" and "patriot" have nothing to do with one another.

Indeed, they are opposites.
+3 # iris 2011-09-22 11:08
protester still have not made the demands... itwakesn them. tax wall st transactions, police the fraud, jail for banksters, and return the glass steagal act...
+2 # pen 2011-09-22 18:28
Okay, let's stop buying ANYTHING from the advertisers on these news stations until they do give us all the news! I mean don't buy ANYTHING from the advertisers...t he greedy dogs respect the dollar if nothing else.
+3 # Josippie 2011-09-23 09:04
You can WALK from the NYT offices to Wall St. Yet, in the 6+ days that protesters have occupied an area around Wall St, day and night, the NYT published only one article (according to my search on their website), on Monday, the 19th. Absolutely shameful. I stopped buying the NYT for similar "oversights" several years ago.
+1 # noitall 2011-09-23 16:28
Some might call this behavior of the lessors of the People's airwaves TREASON. Since the airwaves belong to the People and are managed by PUBLIC SERVANTS, why do OUR public servants allow this blow against our Democracy stand? Is that why we have such poor choices in leaders in this land of millions? IGNORANCE IS NOT BLISS!!!!

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