Local receptivity climates and the dynamics of media attention to protest

Patrick Rafail, John D. McCarthy, Samuel Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Research on media attention to social movements generally examines a small sample of media outlets and a diverse sample of protest events. This approach has produced significant insight into the type of protests covered by the media but has minimized the role of media organizations. This study flips the approach taken by prior work: we examine coverage patterns of 1,498 nationally coordinated but highly comparable vigils against the Iraq War in 426 U.S. newspapers. We show that protest coverage is shaped by local receptivity climates, which emphasize the organizational and contextual features of media environments that influence media attention. We show that larger newspapers, those that covered the Iraq War more extensively, and those in areas supporting the Democratic Party devoted more attention to the vigils. Our results bridge the gap between the features of protest events that are newsworthy and the organizational routines that structure journalistic work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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