News Analysis

From the NYC General Assembly’s Declaration of Occupation:
“As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.”

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For my news analysis of Occupy Wall Street, I decided to focus my research on the Zuccotti Park occupation from its formation on September 17, 2011 to the time it was legally disbanded by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and the NYC police on November 15th 2011.  In this analysis of news coverage I have decided to examine six different online news sources.  For breadth of coverage I examined two liberal identified news sources, two foreign news sources, and two conservative identified news sources.  I looked at the news coverage of Occupy Wall Street’s encampment of Zuccotti Park (Liberation Plaza) by these sources around the formation of the encampment as well as around the time of its dissolution to try and get an idea of what is being said about the Occupy movement, about the Occupiers themselves, as well as who is saying it.

Liberal Identified Sources: Mother Jones, The Nation
Foreign Sources: BBC, Al Jazeera English
Conservative Identified:  Fox News, National Review Online

Earliest news coverage doesn’t deal with the issues of Occupy Wall Street, merely serves as a documentation of their existence.  Some criticism of a maybe “media blackout” that was instituted by corporations until the Occupy movement got enough supporters to gain “traction” in the news world, sometimes aided by police violence against the protesters.  In New York the major catalysts for the gaining of traction by Occupiers in Zuccotti was the incident where around 700 people were arrested on Brooklyn Bridge, on October 2nd.

The portrayal of the Occupy movement as violent largely by conservative news sources and politicians is a source of contention between the Occupiers and their opponents.  One central question that this raises is whether the Occupiers are violent are not, the answer depending on who is covering the story.  Many conservative news sources or sources critical of OWS see the Occupiers as anarchic thugs with no clear message who are too radical to gain any sort of mainstream support or power in the bipartisan governmental system of the United States.  Occupiers themselves see the Occupy Wall Street Movement as the American adaptation of the Arab Spring, and Greek and Spanish riots.

The Adbusters article that called for the Occupation of Wall Street on September 17, 2011 referred to it as a “Tahrir” movement.  Tahrir, or Liberation, Square was seen as the center of the Egyptian revolution earlier in 2011.  Positive discourse and media coverage of the Occupy movement portray it as a grassroots, anarchist inspired, purely democratic movement that seeks to create a dialogue towards change away from the oppressive and exploitive neo-liberal capitalism that caused the collapse of the world economy.  One thing motivating the Occupy movement around was the foreclosure of many US homes by banks, and the anger around the government bailout of major banks.

Many sources, both for and against the Occupy movement, liken it to the conservative Tea Party movement, as both seek to return US democracy to the control of the people.  Major differences occur in practice, with the Tea Partiers seeking a libertarian decrease in the size of government, whereas the Occupiers would like to see a socialist-style increase in government, an increase in taxes for the rich, socialized health care and education, and more control by the people of the government.  A major issue for the Occupiers is the power that multi-billion dollar corporations have in the government, their classification as “people” by the Supreme Court, and the influence that they have over politicians, which Occupy supporters see as detracting from the supposedly democratic nature of the United States government.

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