All Articles Tagged "wall street protests"
What is one of the hottest news stories being read right now in the U.S.? Anything and everything related to Occupy Wall Street (OWS). Pew Research Center, a leading “fact tank” in U.S. just released information today that public interest in the Wall Street protests noticeably increased last week, ranking #2 in the News Interest Index at 18%, just behind the economy in general. Not only that, but the protests accounted for 9% of the overall “newshole” compared with 7% the previous week and only 2% the week before that. But even though these numbers are clearly expanding, it seems that much of the coverage as well as interest consists of belittlement and outright ridicule of the movement. Even political talk show host Jon Stewart has jumped on board not only criticizing the protesters as he and Rev. Al Sharpton discussed the phenomenon on Stewart’s recent show. The Daily Show also seemed to go out of its way to capture video pointing to “weirdos” at the site.
But the real question may be if such a dismissive attitude is wise in the long run?
Maybe you remember a little thing called the Tea Party movement; also highly criticized and/or downplayed during its infancy. In fact, early 2010, The Los Angeles Times seemed to also play down the Tea Party phenomenon saying, “The movement is far from a well-disciplined army. Its pivot from protesting to politics has been fraught with internal disputes, turf wars….(http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jan/25/nation/la-na-tea-parties25-2010jan25). Not only this, but the media also offered its fair share of oral sex jokes about tea bagging (http://newsbusters.org/blogs/jeff-poor/2009/04/14/msnbc-place-low-brow-teabag-humor ) (not unlike the “free love” angle that seems to hover around current media coverage of OWS). But the lack of early seriousness led to many being caught off guard when it came to the influential growth of force of the movement. In fact, well-respected media critic Howard Kurtz said in The Washington Post in 2010, “… CNN and MSNBC may have dropped the ball by all but ignoring the (Tea Party) protests.”
And now the Tea Party has caucuses in the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, and is very influential (2010 elections, anyone?)
But if analysts such as Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport have suggested that the Teap Party movement is not a new political group, but simply a rebranding of traditional Republican candidates and policies.; are we also witnessing such a “rebranding” of Democratic Party, dare we even say Democracy, with the advent of OWS (http://bit.ly/mOPNGP)? Just how can you tell when a movement – this movement – has legs, so to speak?
Respected political theorist Dr. Benjamin Barber cites three steps in criteria. He says, “There are several points to consider:
1) look to see if the media is continuing to report on it. If you keep seeing coverage, it means there is something there; though you don’t have to believe everything that is reported. Just note the fact that there is reporting
2) inspect photos and voices of the protesters. Upon close inspection of many photos of OWS we can see great diversity in race, age and even dress. There are people in suits as well as casual clothing. This tells more of the real story.
3) watch for the capacity for the movement itself to persist and endure. If you see something strong, but it disperses after a week or two, then it’s probably not too serious. We see now OWS moving into its second month. It’s moving into other cities and other countries so that tells me that it embodies issues which touch a lot of people. A cord is being struck, and that suggests persistence. It may not be cohesive at the moment, but it’s there.”
However, according to an opinion piece media theorist Douglas Rushkoff recently posted, this is not a movement with a traditional narrative arc. He writes, “As the product of the decentralized (http://bit.ly/mOPNGP) networked-era culture, it is not about one-pointedness, but inclusion and groping toward consensus. It is not like a book; it is like the Internet. It models a new collectivism.”
Thus, it’s a new approach which may just call for wisdom in observation rather than quick judgment because, according to Dr. Barber, there is perhaps a worrisome side-effect to dismissing strong movement. He cautions, “There could be a danger in society not listening to loud and persistent voices of protest because the next sound one could her might be loud (verbal) fighting or loud violence. That could be the cost.”
(Wall Street Journal) — The anti-Wall Street protesters camped out in a Lower Manhattan park are beginning to attract backing from some of New York’s most powerful labor unions. On Monday, health-care workers union 1199SEIU issued a statement of support for the protests and said it would help feed those camped out in the park, send nurses to train those providing first aid and set up a task force to figure out what else it could do. The union represents 200,000 health-care workers in New York and Long Island and 100,000 more elsewhere on the East Coast. The health-care workers joined Transport Workers Union Local 100, which represents 38,000 Metropolitan Transportation Authority employees, and several smaller labor groups in supporting the nascent protests. While the unions are playing a background role, they potentially bring deep pockets, manpower and more mainstream credibility to what began as a rag-tag group of mostly young activists.
This past Saturday, anywhere between a few hundreds to as many as 5,000 protesters (depending on the source) flooded into Manhattan for Occupation Wall Street, a multi-day rally, which seeks to peacefully “occupy Wall Street” and expose the disloyal, incompetent, and corrupt special interests, which have permeated our economy and government.
Inspired by the massive public protests in Cairo and in Madrid, these protestors organized online, mostly through social networking sites, with a little help from the activist hacker group Anonymous. For the past three days, the protestors slept in sleeping bags in a park near Wall Street at night and held demonstrations in the morning. Today will mark the fourth day of the “occupation” where hundreds still remain beating drums, waving signs and chanting slogans such as “Wall Street is our Street.” Yet the three major cable news networks have devoted little to no airtime on this developing story.
Of course, you can watch the protest live online or you can read all about the details in alternative newspapers and online news sites. However, the mainstream media, which reports daily on the happenings inside of Wall Street have seemed to bypass all the action happening outside on the streets of the financial district. I mean when the youth in Eygpt and Tunisia decided to stand up and say they had enough, our media was there with round the clock coverage. So what’s up with that?
Perhaps there is a logical explanation on why the mainstream press, particularly the 24 hour news stations have chosen to ignore the protest – especially at a time when animosity for the Wall Street has reached fever pitch. Maybe the numbers weren’t big enough to warrant coverage? However, similar and yet sparsely attended Tea Party rallies in Washington, D.C, which were held in support of federal spending cuts, were rewarded with generous media attention. Yet in the past few months dozens of protests against the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, killer drones, no-cuts to government spending, police brutality and other progressive causes have been carried out and I didn’t see any of those rallies getting coverage.
It’s hard to imagine that the mainstream media has been intentionally ignoring progressive causes while giving attention to the rallies of the extreme right. But consider that when a broad coalition of black activist groups, which had been spearheaded by the Nation of Islam, took to the streets to protest the bombing of Libya and raise awareness of social ills domestically for the Millions in Harlem March in New York City, there was no media attention.
The same could be said for the Israeli Tent City protest, which has been happening since early August. Tens of thousands of protestors have taken to the streets in Jerusalem, Haifa and a dozen other Israeli cities in what they are calling a Million Man March to protest that country’s rising cost of living. And yet as bombings by Hamas makes news day in and day out in western media outlets, what is pegged as the largest demonstration in Israeli history since the Lebanon protest can’t get any place on the TV screen here stateside.
Any suppression of news is considered censorship and by ignoring antiwar and other far-left protests, not only is the mainstream media missing important stories and failing to act as the watchdog for the 1st through 3rd Estates, it is also propagating agendas, particularly corporate, right and centrist political agendas, which seeks to suggest that there is no visible opposition to the U.S. wars and other international and domestic policy issues. This is why it is so frustrating for those in the far left, progressive and even the black nationalist communities, who have to sit and listen as pundits and commentators spout off about the lack of appeal for their causes within the general public when the unpublicized and unreported reality suggest something totally different.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.