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The instrumental mediated visibility of violence: the 2013 protests in Brazil and the limitations of the protest paradigm

Jiménez-Martínez, César ORCID: 2021. The instrumental mediated visibility of violence: the 2013 protests in Brazil and the limitations of the protest paradigm. International Journal of Press/Politics 26 (3) , pp. 525-546. 10.1177/1940161220923984

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Studies examining protest news coverage often look at it through a “protest paradigm,” arguing that “mainstream” media delegitimize protests by emphasizing violence and marginalizing grievances. Focusing on the June 2013 protests in Brazil, this article takes the discussion in a different conceptual and empirical direction, examining the forces that, according to national, alternative, and foreign journalists, shaped the coverage of violence during those demonstrations. Drawing on forty-three in-depth interviews, the accounts of these individuals confirm the need to move beyond deterministic approaches suggested by the protest paradigm, acknowledging that the mediated visibility of violence does neither invariably lead to support for the status quo nor to a demonization of social unrest. News coverage of violence emerges alternatively as an instrument with the potential to be strategically exploited for diverse political, ideological, and commercial purposes. A closer examination of the frictional processes leading up to mediated visibility also recognizes that sensationalism and drama are not exclusive to the mainstream media. Despite their potential to broaden the mediated visibility of protest, alternative and foreign journalists may narrate demonstrations as politically legitimate but ultimately shallow spectacles, where the drama of violence—committed by either authorities or demonstrators—obscures the underlying grievances driving people on to the streets. The views of journalists are an important contribution to debates about protest news coverage, given the scarcity of studies examining their accounts during these episodes.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Publisher: SAGE
ISSN: 1940-1612
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 1 June 2020
Date of Acceptance: 6 April 2020
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2022 13:40

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