Credit: Photo by KM L from Pexels

Protests by their nature are divisive and emotionally-charged, and media coverage has often stoked this fire in the past by focusing on crime and disruption at the expense of the intended message. This can lead to an overall negative impression of protestors, running the risk of further marginalising underrepresented groups and causes.

A recent study by the Centre for Media Engagement identifies two key concepts which journalists can utilise that impact on the way that protest stories are received by readers.

The study, undertaken by researchers Gina M. Masullo, Danielle K. Brown and Summer Harlow, found that articles which took the route of humanising key figures rather than criminalising them, and which legitimised protest activities by directing coverage to motivations rather than disruptions lead to a notable increase in understanding and positive reactions from participants, even increasing reader perceptions of credibility in some cases.

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