The manufacture of ‘public opinion’ by reporters: Informal cues for public perceptions of protest groups

Douglas M. Mcleod, James K. Hertog

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

161 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study examines how conceptions of ‘public opinion’ are embedded within news-coverage of social protests at two levels: the micro-level in terms of informal characterizations of public opinion and the macro-level in terms of general conceptions of public opinion. At the micro-level, public opinion is brought into news stories in a variety of ways, including: statements about public opinion, depictions of compliance with or violation of social norms and laws, and portrayals of bystanders as symbols for public reaction. At the macro-level, coverage may have an underlying conception of public opinion as (1) aggregated individual opinion, (2) attempts of various groups to affect public policy and (3) a mechanism of social control. This case study of mainstream and alternative media coverage of three anarchist protests reveals differences at both the micro-descriptive and macro-conceptual levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-275
Number of pages17
JournalDiscourse and Society
Volume3
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1992

Keywords

  • alternative media
  • anarchists
  • media coverage
  • public opinion
  • social protest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language

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