Martin to Brown: How time and platform impact coverage of the Black Lives Matter movement

Danielle K. Kilgo, Rachel R. Mourao, George Sylvie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The rise of the modern Black Lives Matter movement can be traced back to two key events, the 2012 death of Trayvon Martin and the 2014 death of Michael Brown. Research routinely showed that mainstream media’s narrative choices marginalize and delegitimize protesters and their causes, a pattern known as the protest paradigm. This study provides a longitudinal examination of how the same mainstream media system varied in their coverage of similar events and the degree to which journalists challenged the predicted paradigms conceptualized in other academic work. A content analysis of national newspaper coverage revealed that news before the judicial rulings focused on protesters’ tactics (violence versus peaceful) and changed to the realm of ideas (grievances and demands) after the assailants were considered not guilty of wrongdoing. No progression was found in legitimizing coverage of protests between the two cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-430
Number of pages18
JournalJournalism Practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 21 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Black Lives Matter
  • content analysis
  • newspaper coverage
  • police brutality
  • protest paradigm
  • race


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