Different channels = different agendas?
Issues explicitly related to protests had a marginal influence on this week’s headlines. On Tuesday RT reported on student protests in Paris against police brutality and on Friday Al Jazeera reported on Banksy’s latest West Bank creation, entitled the Walled off Hotel, which was described as part museum, part hotel and part protest site. This can be compared to Trump’s budget announcement that made the first headline on BBCW, Al Jazeera and CNN on Monday.
This observation arguably actualises questions about the possibilities for non-elite actors, such as protesters to enter the media agenda, especially in a media ecology characterized by a greater diversity of outlets. A concept that can help us grapple with this seemingly contradictory shortage of time and space for protest in televised news is what media scholar Daniel Dayan has described as a politics of attention (2009). Dayan use this concept in order to make sense of what he calls sharedness and attention in a media context where the centrality of old already established media outlets has become increasingly challenged by the advent of new outlets and new media technologies.
While channels such as the ones we code in Screening Protest, certainly have contributed to push sharedness and attention outside of territorial geographies by broadcasting beyond the borders of nation states, this week’s headlines certainly question whether this change has corresponded with any significant change in the politics of attention of televised news. That is, has an increase in the number of outlets corresponded with an increased diversity of actors who comes across in the media agenda?
Observations from a single week in 2017 is not enough to help us answer that question. Yet, as we collect and code more and more data, we hope to be able to document this politics of attention, and contribute to a discussion of its implication for activists in an increasingly globalized media ecology.
Screening Protest — "Different channels = different agendas?," in The Screening Protest Project, March 9, 2017