Study: Occupy Wall Street now occupies 10 percent of big media coverage
Three weeks ago, amid repeated complaints about an Occupy Wall Street media blackout, we did an informal statistical assessment and concluded that there was no blackout, though the story wasn't played huge, really, anywhere yet.
A lot has changed since then.
The latest study from Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, which tracks coverage trends among 50 U.S. news outlets, shows that the demonstrations made up fully 10 percent of the news hole last week in the country's most prominent outlets (to say nothing of the many, many smaller ones not covered by the index). That's up from 7 percent a week earlier and 2 percent the week prior to that, putting the protests right up there with other conversation-setting topics presently capturing the media's attention: Iran, the 2012 presidential race and the economy as a whole.
As P.E.J.'s Mark Jurkowitz wrote in his synopsis of the findings, we've seen this before:
"The Tea Party protests began with little media notice in February 2009. But they filled 7% of the newshole studied the week they went national with widespread protests on April 15 of that year."
When we spoke with Jurkowitz for our Sept. 28 article, he said that P.E.J.'s news index, which only counts front-page newspaper articles and prime-time TV coverage (as well as some radio), had so far logged just two stories on Occupy Wall Street.
Since then, the coverage (and the coverage of the coverage) has exploded as the protests have metastasized and the movement, though still leaderless, decentralized and loosely-defined, has gone global. The occasional police skirmish or mass arrest intensifies the media's interest, as has increasing condemnation of the protests from the right.
"Some of the attention to it came from conservative talk radio hosts condemning the movement," wrote Jurkowitz.
He noted some particularly colorful commentary from Sean Hannity's Oct. 11 radio show, in which the host alleged that there are protestors "walking around naked, smoking pot, having sex in public ... I think the country is looking at this and saying … that’s what leftism is, that’s what socialism is.”