Violent Incongruencies: Analyzing The New York Times’s Discourse on George Floyd Demonstrations and the Capitol Riot
Brown James (Ph.D. student), “Violent Incongruencies: Analyzing The New York Times’s Discourse on George Floyd Demonstrations and the Capitol Riot,” paper to be presented AEJMC Southeastern Colloquium, Middle Tennessee State University, March 2–4.
Abstract: American news media has a storied past of delegitimizing protest movements, especially with violence. However, recent literature has suggested news media in America is slowly beginning to pull away from this trend. Moreover, recent protest history has several memorable examples of this attempted course correction, such as CNN’s viral “fiery but mostly peaceful” headline during the demonstrations following the murder of George Floyd. Along with this series of protest demonstrations, one of the most historically significant demonstrations of protest in the 2020s was the Capitol riot of January 6, 2021. This study utilized a discourse analysis methodology to explore textual and visual framing incongruencies of participant violence in The New York Times’s coverage of these historic demonstrations. As it pertains to these two events, findings point toward participant violence being a near constant throughout the NYT’s coverage, but it was not the determining factor for the NYT’s labeling of demonstration participants as“protesters” or “rioters”. Differences and discrepancies in textual and visual framings of both events are discussed.