When the Right Protests: How Journalists Cover Conservative Movements

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Abstract

This study focuses on the relationship between the mainstream press and right-wing protests in Brazil. Guided by the “protest paradigm” literature, my goal was to understand how reporters in the Global South cover conservative demonstrations. Protest paradigm scholarship found that news norms and routines lead to delegitimizing patterns of coverage, focusing on official viewpoints, spectacle, and violence. Here, I consider how the same practices can aid in the legitimization of right-wing movements. Through a mixed methodology combining content analysis and interviews with reporters from the analyzed outlets, findings revealed that when protesters’ grievances and demands aligned with the preferences of anti-leftist elites, right-wing politicians subsidized information to journalists. The lack of clashes with the police and cohesive leadership also allowed for coverage to become more thematic. As a result, I argue three conditions lead to news legitimization of protests. First, the movement fitting within a broader political conflict between elites. Second, the movement being sympathetic to the state's repressive apparatus. Third, the movement having cohesive leadership and unified identity. These conditions, which favor right-wing demands, drove legitimizing coverage even when reporters viewed the movement with skepticism.

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APA

Mourão, R. R. (2021). When the Right Protests: How Journalists Cover Conservative Movements. Journalism Practice. https://doi.org/10.1080/17512786.2021.1984281

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