Protest News Framing Cycle: How The New York Times Covered Occupy Wall Street

Julian Gottlieb


This article introduces a protest news framing cycle and presents the results of a longitudinal analysis of news attention and framing of protest movements. To identify the frame-changing dynamic occurring over time, a content analysis of the news coverage of Occupy Wall Street was conducted on 228 articles and 37 editorials in The New York Times from the start of the protest in September 2011 until long after the protest had subsided in July 2014. The article identifies longitudinal changes in news frames about the economic substance of the protest and the ensuing conflict between protesters and city officials during the occupation. Findings suggest that conflict had a significant impact on the number of news stories about the protest. Further, the results demonstrate how news framing opportunities changed as the movement reached different stages of the news attention cycle. As the movement grew, journalists focused on the movement’s economic grievances, including economic inequality, bank bailouts, and foreclosures. As the movement peaked, news attention shifted to the intensifying conflict between city officials and protesters.


framing; news attention; social movements; The New York Times; Occupy Wall Street

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