Analysis of U.S. Mainstream Media: A Case Study of News Reports on Occupy Wall Street Event

Laya Liu Linjun Fan, Shantou University, Guandong, China

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Abstract: The “Occupy Wall Street” (OWS) movement, started from Zuccotti Park at the Wall Street in New York City on Sep.17, 2011. It expanded to 951 cities in 82 countries around the world. The U.S mainstream media’s attitude towards OWS turned from ignorance, neutral, denial, to acceptance. Keith Olbermann, American political commentator criticized the initial media response for ignorance in the first five days. Also, Chen Weihua, deputy U.S. editor of China Daily followed with a shameful “media blackout”. However, both of them failed to give comprehensive and multi-dimensional analysis except for small sample data and subjective tendencies. To give an objective view on how U.S. mainstream media defined news value by media bias detection, this thesis tracked news coverage and analyzed the content of 4 specific mainstream media on OWS from Sep.16 to Dec.16 in 2011, including 417 publications on New York Times, 268 on Wall Street Journal, 487 news coverage on, and 286 on The author combined literature research with discourse analysis to conclude that U.S mainstream media didn’t have adequate reports in the beginning but followed by regular coverage with little bias. The reason for ignorance maybe owed to OWS’s unclear goal and blocking by government.

Introduction: Occupy Wall Street (OWS) was initiated by the Canadian Vancouver-based counter-culture magazine, Adbusters Media Foundation, which was inspired by Arab Spring protest from Tahrir Square during Egypt protests in 2011.
Starting from Zuccotti Park in the Wall Street financial district, the OWS protest reached 847 national cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, Denver, and 104 overseas cities including London, Toronto, Madrid, Barcelona, Sydney, and Rome. OWS was alleged to oppose income inequality, unemployment, environmental destruction, and oppression of the economic crisis. Until April 2012, there was no exact number of protesters, but it can be deduced to be over 100 thousand protesters and 1 million participants based on the reach of 951 cities in 82 countries around the world and at least hundreds of participants for each protest.

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