Once, radicals used the media to try to spread their ideas. In 2011, the media class used radicals to spread its ideas.
Brendan O’Neill, Spiked, December 29, 2011
2011 was the year in which protest became a prisoner of the media. Many end-of-year commentaries have gushed about the fact that, in contrast to the ‘complacency and apathy’ of the 2000s, 2011 was a year of political tumult everywhere from Tunisia to Manhattan. Yet while some of these protests were refreshing, there was something weird about them, too: the extent to which they were dependent on the media. Modern protest is increasingly reliant upon the media not only for impact, but also for ideas, and this gives the media extraordinary power to create political possibilities today.
It is fitting that 2011 ended with Time magazine naming ‘The Protester’ its Person of the Year and using a photoshopped image of an Occupy protester crossed with an Arab Spring protester on its cover. Because in many ways, these protesters are creations of the media; certainly they are creatures of the media, their complaints of the past 12 months having been sanctioned and, more importantly, shaped by the media class.
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How protest became a prisoner of the media