Press protest and publics: the agency of publics in newspaper campaigns

Birks, Jen (2010) Press protest and publics: the agency of publics in newspaper campaigns. Discourse and Communication, 4 (1). pp. 51-67. ISSN 1750-4821

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Campaign advocacy is a common but rarely researched practice in British tabloid journalism. Newspaper campaigns give an account of ‘public opinion’ to politicians, make explicit claims to speak for ‘the public’ and authentically represent them, and also address readers in an unconventional way in order to recruit their support. This article therefore examines the effect to which agency is attributed to readers and other publics in two such campaigns, and argues that publics were portrayed as active only in relation to the newspaper’s activity, and as primarily as reacting emotionally to the problem. The campaigning press promote themselves commercially and politically as quasi-representatives who challenge distant and ‘out of touch’ political representatives with the populist impulses of ‘public’ demands, but without enhancing the democratic process, or publics’ position within it.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Please acknowledge as follows: Birks, Jen, Press Protest and Publics: The Agency of Publics in Newspaper Campaigns, Discourse & Communication 4(1): 51-67, 2010, reproduced with permission of Sage. This extract is taken from the author's original manuscript and has not been edited. The definitive, published, version of record is available here:
Keywords: Newspapers, Campaigns, Publics, Agency, Citizenship
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Arts > School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies > Department of Culture, Film and Media
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Birks, Jennifer
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2016 09:31
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 16:28

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