Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Burton St. John III
Maura E. Hametz
E. James Baesler
The importance of First Amendment protections for assembly, speech, and the press is manifest during protest events in a way that is not seen in many other situations. Entrenched political and commercial powers, which benefit from the status quo and resist the change supported by the protesters, use many tactics to suppress the message and repress the messenger. One of the tools of repression is the policing of protests. Protest policing, where the government uses law enforcement personnel as a tool to impose its will on the protesters, has evolved over the years. Another of the power center’s tactics is control of press coverage. Honest and informative news reports are vital for movements as a way to spread their message. However, the mainstream press has traditionally downplayed the message and instead focused on troublemakers who provide the action that raise the ratings. The rise of Internet publishing and inexpensive video cameras, as well as small, local newspapers has mitigated this and supported the ascension of the independent media, or the Indy Press. The Indy Press offers a favorable depiction of protests and the message of protesters. This development has led some mainstream reporters to follow the lead of the Indy Press, thus presenting a threat to the power center’s control of the message.
During the 2008 Republican National Convention, the police and other security forces providing security for the event arrested at least 43 journalists who were recording the protests and actions on the streets. These arrests were made in spite of the fact that many journalists were wearing valid press passes and identified themselves as reporters. Beyond that, the police maliciously assaulted many of the journalists during their arrest. This work examines the link between the policing of protests, the arrest of protesters, and the repression of reporters. These actions by the power centers serve as a form of intimidation known as propaganda of the deed. Utilizing the accounts of those reporters and witnesses, this work details the potential threat to democratic freedoms posed by the repression of the press, especially the Indy press, by the government.
Frenzel, Robert David, "No Witnesses: Protest Policing and the Media at the 2008 Republican National Convention" (2016). Institute for the Humanities Theses. 7.