The Journal Fizzles on Occupy Oakland Protest

Several thousand Occupy movement protestors shut down the Port of Oakland yesterday, a week after Oakland police attacked the protest with tear gas and, allegedly, flashbang grenades and rubber bullets. Big news story.

On the Twitter, CUNY’s C.W. Anderson marvels at how The Wall Street Journal frames it:

Wow. This #WSJ article on #occupyoakland really is the tops. If you want a lesson on media framing, here it is.

“largely fizzled” “protesters became unruly” “raising questions about the breadth of … support” “Some expressed disappointment.”

Indeed. Here’s the Journal’s lede:

The Occupy Oakland protesters’ call for a general strike Wednesday largely fizzled as organizers failed to rally significant support from unions, but protesters brought operations at the Port of Oakland to a halt.

By contrast, here’s The New York Times:

Thousands of Occupy Oakland protesters expanded their anti-Wall Street demonstrations on Wednesday, marching through downtown, picketing banks and swarming the port. By early evening, port authorities said maritime operations there were effectively shut down.

The Los Angeles Times:

Thousands of demonstrators chanted, marched, danced and waved signs Wednesday during a general strike called by Occupy Oakland, a largely peaceful protest that snarled downtown streets, rerouted buses, closed the busy port and drew hundreds of teachers and city workers from classrooms and offices.

The San Francisco Chronicle:

Thousands of people jammed into downtown Oakland on Wednesday for a general strike called by Occupy Oakland to protest economic inequity and corporate greed - then marched en masse to the Port of Oakland and shut it down.

That a general strike from a month-old movement failed to shut down all parts of the city is pretty unsurprising, and it’s not your lede. That it shut down a major hub of economic activity is.

And it’s not just the Journal’s lede that’s all screwy.

The rest of the 400-word story, as Anderson points out, tries to downplay the significance of seven thousand people on the streets of a major city shutting down its port.

Not good.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,