Media and Social Movements
The most compelling story to me is the one about Wal-Mart. The first reason is the most familiar name—Wal-Mart. Then it is the story itself. As I know, Wal-Mart is famous for saving money for the customers. However, it also saves money for the corporation itself. Wal-Mart cost a little money on the products. Meanwhile, the employees’ wages were very low, and they could not get good health care from the corporation. “As of 2004, Wal-Mart had received $624 million in taxpayer money to build warehouses, and an estimated $2.4 billion to build stores” (124; GN ch 7). “In 2008, the CEO of Wal-Mart was to receive $32 million in salary and other compensation” (123; GN ch 7). Meanwhile, Wal-Mart did not stop expanding the number of the stores. In 2005, Wal-Mart wanted to make the plan of building a supercenter on a wetland. This angered the local opposition including WMNF, the St. Petersburg Times and a group of people that wanted to stop the expansion of Wal-Mart. In this protest, the interaction between the media and the social movement played an important role. WMNF “always told the listeners how they could contact the community groups” and “announced the dates of upcoming and protests” (126; GN ch 7). It also did the interviews to gather the information why people should fight Wal-Mart. Also, the St. Petersburg Times published the long newspaper article and the letters from readers responding to the article. The media collected the news about anti-Wal-Mart activity and people reflected their anti-Wal-Mart thoughts at the same time. “Movements ask the media to communicate their massages to the public, while the media look to the movements as one potential source of ‘news’ ” (237; MS ch 7)—this is the reflection to the Wal-Mart story. The people, who wanted to stop Wal-Mart’s expansion, took the benefits of the coverage of the media to reflect their thoughts to encourage more people to join them in order to successfully stop Wal-Mart. “movements usually need the mass media to widely publicize their activities” (237; MS ch 7). The media gathered the news and got more publicity during propaganda of the Wal-Mart issue.
“Local journalism that made a difference” makes me feel like a great capability of local journalism. However, sometimes, I feel like the great capability of local journalism is because its short distance between the local news. It has more chance to reflect local people’s thoughts, which is more real or closer to real life. From the angle of the large media world, local journalism seems like a little part in the large world. How do you think about the capability of local journalism (related to real life (–small media world) or the large media world)?