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Outside the Mainstream: Social Movement Organization Media Coverage in Mainstream and Partisan News Outlets

Media, Movements, and Political Change

ISBN: 978-1-78052-880-9, eISBN: 978-1-78052-881-6

ISSN: 0163-786X

Publication date: 22 May 2012


Purpose – Although scholars have long been interested in how social movements use mass media to forward their goals, sociological research almost exclusively focuses on the ability of activist groups to get their ideas and organizations in general audience, mainstream media coverage. This paper contributes to a more systematic understanding of media coverage outcomes by broadening the range of outlets considered relevant to political discourse. In addition to mainstream venues, we consider conservative and liberal/left outlets in our analysis of social movement organization media coverage.

Method – Using negative binomial regression, we analyze how organizational characteristics, organizational frames, political elites, and event type affect the rates of social movement organization media coverage in mainstream and partisan news venues.

Findings – We find that the independent variables play very different roles in mainstream and partisan media coverage outcomes. Specifically, while organizational characteristics and frames often enhance the media coverage outcomes of activist groups in mainstream venues, political elites have no effect at all. In contrast, organizational characteristics and frames do not affect social movement media coverage in partisan outlets, whereas political elites and event type do.

Originality of the paper – Conceptually, this research broadens how scholars think about the relationship between social movement groups and mass media as well as the factors that influence media outcomes.



Rohlinger, D.A., Kail, B., Taylor, M. and Conn, S. (2012), "Outside the Mainstream: Social Movement Organization Media Coverage in Mainstream and Partisan News Outlets", Earl, J. and Rohlinger, D.A. (Ed.) Media, Movements, and Political Change (Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change, Vol. 33), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 51-80.



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