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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Coverage Grows for Wall Street Protest

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Damon Winter/The New York Times 
As the Occupy Wall Street protest has continued and spread to other cities, there has been a surge in media coverage.

“Live, from Occupy Wall Street.”

The Occupy Wall Street protesters and people sympathetic to their movement accused mainstream media outlets of playing down the first days of their protests in New York City in September.
But as the protests have spread to other cities in recent days, there has been a surge in media coverage on television, online and in print. And on Wednesday, for the first time, a national television news program moved itself to Lower Manhattan to cover the protests at length.

The program was that of Tamron Hall, the 2 p.m. anchor on MSNBC. Standing beside Zuccotti Park, the focal point of the Occupy Wall Street protests, Ms. Hall said that “protests are being held and planned right now in more than 50 cities.” On the screen were videos of earlier protests in New York, Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles.

There are no immediate plans for other programs on MSNBC to broadcast from the protest site. Still, the presence of Ms. Hall attests to the growing amount of media attention that the protests are garnering.

While there were reporters at the park on Sept. 17, the first day of the occupation, there are many more now.
There were only a smattering of mentions of the protests on television in the first week, and some of those mentions — like the first one on Current TV’s “Countdown,” the liberal program anchored by Keith Olbermann — were about the lack of media coverage.

Television regulars like Michael Moore helped spur some coverage in late September. The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism found that the protests represented a small sliver of the national news hole last week: the economy accounted for 14 percent of news coverage, and Occupy Wall Street accounted for about 12 percent of that economic coverage.

Arrests of protesters on two consecutive Saturdays, Sept. 24 and Oct. 1, generated much more coverage, including reports on nightly newscasts. By the time the protests entered a third workweek on Monday, all of the network morning news shows were discussing them.

“In a matter of weeks, Occupy Wall Street has grown from a small group of protesters squatting in New York’s Zuccotti Park to a national movement,” Mr. Olbermann said on his program Tuesday night. “Support from organized labor and progressive groups is increasing by the day, while the protesters — who were once sneered at by most national media and The New York Times — are now part of the testimony on Capitol Hill, part of the conversation on the campaign trail, and part of the calculations on Wall Street.”
The proximity of the main Occupy Wall Street protest to the newsrooms of television networks and national newspapers may have helped draw coverage. Erin Burnett, a new anchor for CNN, visited the park, interviewed protesters and showed one of the interviews on her program with a heavy dose of sarcasm on Monday night.

In a separate segment, Ms. Burnett told one of her guests, “I was in Tahrir Square during the Egyptian revolution, and this lacked the intensity, to say the least.”
Others seem to disagree.

When Nick Kristof, a columnist for The New York Times, visited the park on Sept. 29, he wrote on Twitter, “I’ve just been interviewing people at the Occupy Wall Street protests. Reminds me of Tahrir Square.” Mr. Kristof, too, was in Egypt during the revolution there, and he said he saw similarities in the “social media savvy, carnival mood and deep sense of frustration & disenfranchisement” of both crowds.

Dylan Ratigan, an afternoon MSNBC anchor who rails against what he calls financial and governmental corruption, has spent time at the park each day since Sept. 30, and spoke with Ms. Hall on her show on Wednesday. He sent an e-mail to fellow journalists on Tuesday that read, “If you haven’t been down to Zuccotti Park I highly recommend it. Not to simply get crowd shots, but to actually meet and talk with some of these people who are of all kinds, ages and economic standings.”

He has not yet broadcast his daily TV show from the park, however.
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