Alternative media and protest

An article in the most recent Communication Quarterly is exactly the sort of linear media effects studies I mentioned yesterday. But this study analyses the positive, democratic, activist effects of alternative media rather than the traditional focus on the effects of violence on mainstream television. The results seem to be cause for optimism.


Much research has explored the role media use plays in political participation. A limitation of this work is that alternative forms of media (e.g., protest Web sites) and participation (e.g., protests) have largely been ignored. Research shows that news media treat protest activity critically, suggesting mainstream media use might discourage alternative participation. This study employs a Random Digit Dialing survey (N = 476) of a large Midwestern community to examine the role mainstream and alternative media play in influencing both traditional political participation and protest forms of participation. The findings suggest that alternative media are positively related to alternative participation and underscore the emerging importance of Web-based media.

Michael P. Boyle and Mike Schmierbach (2009) ‘Media Use and Protest: The Role of Mainstream and Alternative Media Use in Predicting Traditional and Protest Participation’. Communication Quarterly 57 (1): 1 – 17.


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