Protest reporting across clientelist media systems

Harlow, S., Camaj, L., & Pjesivac, I. (2022). Protest reporting across clientelist media systems. International Communication Gazette. Advance online publication:
Abstract:Most protest paradigm studies examining news media’s portrayals of protesters are based on an assumption that the way the paradigm operates within the U.S. media system is similar around the globe. To overcome these weaknesses, this content analysis (n = 1200) of protest-related news coverage in two Balkan and two Central American countries examines how media clientelism-manifested via ownership, concentration, and state advertising-influences media representations of protesters. Results highlight important regional differences in protest coverage and confirm the role of government and elites in clientelist environments is more complex than hypothesized. We found that while clientelism contributes to the protest paradigm, delegitimizing coverage is not automatic, and varies by frame and media ownership, as political and economic interests differentially influence protest coverage depending not just on the outlets’ ties to the state, but also the social contexts surrounding the protests themselves.