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Why The Media Misses and Distorts The Occupy Story

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Occupy Wall Street is All Over The Media: But for How Long?

By Danny Schechter, Editor of the New Mediachannel1 

This is the first in what we hope will be a series of Mediachannel1 reports exploring the media and the Occupy Movement. Share yours with Email address removed

One of the oldest patterns of media coverage can be summed up this way:

First, they ignore you. Then, they ridicule you. Then, they realize you are a story and fall in love. So they build you up at first but then, all at once, tear you down

  You may not have changed, but they have, addicted as they are to keep coming up with shifting story lines, more to fight their own boredom and fear of tune out, than the validity or importance of the topic.

In the same way, that political sound bites went from nearly thirty seconds to five, or that MTV style editing soon invaded the newsrooms with quick cutting and razzle-dazzle effects, to "cover news" while making it difficult to concentrate on, much less comprehend the fast paced presentation techniques.

When asked by researchers, audiences could barely tell you what they had just seen, much less what it means.

We saw this in Iraq, when during the invasion, it was war all the time, literally around the close but when you looked closely, it wasn't about Iraq or Iraqis, its was about a narrative of US slaying the bad guys, cowboys versus Indians, Good guys versus bad guys.   There was no other news, but what there was AAU--All about US.

Now, with Occupy Wall Street, the pattern is similar. The issues largely don't exist---if they require any explanation or analysis. Knowledge about Wall Street and the economy is assumed.

Conflict drives news.

There was little reporting on the occupation when it started. It was only after the cops began pepper spraying or mass protest that the media arrived en masse. They had adversaries. That they could understand.

Soon, they flocked to Zuccotti Park like blue birds. When one landed, they all landed. The TV trucks were everywhere especially at 6 and 11 pm. so that local reporters could do silly live stand-ups and show off colorful characters to reinforce the narrative that the protesters were just having fun, and no serious ideas.

Many of these frontline reporters couldn't tell you the difference between a derivative and a donut, but that didn't matter because what does matter is face time, airtime, visibility.

First the international press recognized that this movement was important. The Park became a mini United Nations with crews from BBC, Al Jazeera, Xinhua News Agency, Russia Today, Press TV.

When they took it seriously, the press began to do the same, and then American TV got into the act once it was realized that this was a national, even a global story

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News Dissector Danny Schechter is blogger in chief at Mediachannel.Org He is the author of PLUNDER: Investigating Our Economic Calamity (Cosimo Books) available at See

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Their misses are deliberate.  The for profit ... by Robert James on Monday, Nov 28, 2011 at 11:05:54 AM
If you slander a messenger  his message ... by Mark Sashine on Monday, Nov 28, 2011 at 1:33:32 PM
For those who support the goals of OWS, it is an i... by Doc McCoy on Tuesday, Nov 29, 2011 at 3:53:42 AM