Social Justice Journalism

A Cultural History of Social Movement Media from Abolition to #womensmarch

by Linda J. Lumsden (Author)
©2019 Textbook XIV, 308 Pages


Social Justice Journalism: A Cultural History of Social Movement Media from Abolition to #womensmarch argues that to better understand the evolution, impact, and future of digital social justice media we need to understand their connections to a venerable print culture of dissent. This cultural history seeks to deepen and contextualize knowledge about digital activist journalism by training the lens of social movement theory back on the nearly forgotten role of eight twentieth-century American social justice journals in effecting significant social change. The book deliberately conflates "social movement media" with newer and broader conceptions of "social justice journalism" to highlight changing definitions of journalism in the digital era. It uses framing theory, social movement theory, and theories about the power of facts and emotion in storytelling to show how social movement media practice journalism to mobilize collective action for their cause. After tracing the evolution and functions of each social justice movement’s print culture, each chapter concludes with a comparison to its online counterparts to illuminate links with digital media. The book concludes that digital activist journalism, while in some ways unique, also shares continuities and commonalities with its print predecessors.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • Advance Praise For Social Justice Journalism
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Abolition Editors, Digital Activists, and Social Justice Journalism
  • Chapter 1. Just the Facts? From the Anti-Slavery Monthly Reporter to William Lloyd Garrison’s Liberator
  • Chapter 2. Strike: The New York Call and Socialist Print Culture
  • Chapter 3. Trailblazer: The Sierra Club Bulletin Helps Build the Environmental Movement
  • Chapter 4. Suffragist: Reframing Militant Notions of Patriotism
  • Chapter 5. Agitator: The Arkansas State Press Makes Black Lives Matter in 1942
  • Chapter 6. Bad Boys: El Malcriado and the Making of the United Farm Workers
  • Chapter 7. Ms.: The First Feminist Mass Media Magazine
  • Chapter 8. “Crips” and “Gimps”: Creating a Disability Culture in the Disability Rag
  • Chapter 9. FTM Newsletter: Louis Sullivan Finds Himself and Fosters a Movement
  • Conclusion: Social Media and Social Justice Journalism
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • Series Index

← viii | ix →


Many people lent a hand to help me complete this book. First, thanks to Beth Stahmer, director of the University of Arizona’s Social & Behavioral Sciences Research Institute (SBSRI), whose enthusiasm and support always have been a boon to my research. Thanks to SBSRI as well for a 2016 grant to do research at the Sierra Club archives at The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, and for an SBSRI Research Professorship that enabled me to work on the book full-time in fall 2017. I also am grateful for a UA Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy Fellowship that allowed me to devote the 2016 spring semester to research.

Social Justice Journalism would not have been possible without the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC). Many thanks to everyone who voted for this project in the 2016 AEJMC-Peter Lang Scholarsourcing Book Competition. Special thanks to the Editorial Committee that selected the project in the final round of judging: Jane Singer, City University, London; Carolyn Bronstein, DePaul University; David Perlmutter, Texas Tech University; Paula Poindexter, University of Texas at Austin; and Richard Waters, University of San Francisco. Carolyn Kitch, Temple University, joined the committee later and generously offered insightful notes on the original manuscript. And if that support were not enough, a 2016 AEJMC ← ix | x → Senior Scholar Research Grant enabled me to do archival work at the London School of Economics. I am very grateful to this excellent organization. Many thanks as well to everyone on the editorial and production teams at Peter Lang Publishing, especially former senior acquisitions editor Mary Savigar and her successors, Kathryn Harrison and Erika Hendrix.

Other organizations also provided funding for research trips. Thank you to the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture for the Mary Lilly Research Grant for research in Robin Morgan’s archival papers at Duke University. Thanks as well to the American Journalism Historians Association, of which I’ve been a proud member for more than twenty-five years, for awarding me a Joseph Kerns Research Grant in 2015 that funded research at Bancroft.

Researchers are dependent on the kindness of research librarians in the archives they visit, and I have been fortunate to work with excellent librarians who were generous with their time and expertise during visits to the collections of: The Bancroft Library; the Sallie Bingham Center for Women and History, Special Collections, Duke University; the Archives and Special Collections at the British Library of Political and Economic Science, London School of Economics and Public Policy; the GLBT Historical Society Archives in San Francisco; the Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University, Detroit; the Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College; and the Archives of the Tamiment Library, New York University. The librarians who get the biggest shout-out, however, are located much closer to home. I never could have written the book without the expert staff of UA’s Library Interlibrary Loan Office, which filled hundreds of requests for books, articles, and more. I also am indebted to the many scholars of social movements and journalism whose excellent work made my own study possible.

One of the most esteemed of those scholars, John D. H. Downing kindly read the introduction and made suggestions that reshaped the book. I appreciate his sage insights. My gratitude extends to Kathryn Abbott for her supportive comments on the final manuscript. Thanks also to graduate student Zeina Cabrera-Peterson for helping to track down citations for Chapter Five. I am obliged as well to copy editor Bridget Leahy, who deftly proofread the manuscript on short notice. Any errors or omissions, of course, are mine alone.

I also would like to thank the journalists and activists—or both!—who took time to speak with me. I am especially grateful to the staff at Sierra magazine, who let me follow them around for a day: Insider newsletter editor Tom Balton, story editor Wendy Becktold, editor-in-chief Jason Mark, and senior ← x | xi → editor Paul Raub. In London, Jakub Sobik was a gracious and informative host at Anti-Slavery International. I also very much appreciate two enlightening telephone interviews with Carmen Rios of Ms. magazine and Marilee Adamski-Smith of ADAPT.

I work with the best colleagues in the world in the UA School of Journalism. Their devotion to our students and to the journalism profession inspires me. Thanks to former school Director Dave Cuillier for signing grant and leave applications that helped advance my research and writing of this book. Many friends in Tucson and beyond offered encouragement during the research, writing, and editing of this book—muchas gracias por todo!

Last but never least, I am grateful for my far-flung family’s love and support: my sister, Laurie Kamuda, in Vermont; my daughter and son-in-law, Jessalee Landfried and Aaron Reuben, in North Carolina; and my son, Samuel Landfried, in Colorado.

Tucson, Arizona

November 30, 2018 ← xi | xii →

← xii | 1 →


Abolition Editors, Digital Activists, and Social Justice Journalism

Florida school-shooting survivor Sarah Chadwick had no idea that the subversive YouTube video in which she mocks the National Rifle Association owed a debt to a dour nineteenth-century Scot named Zachary Macaulay.1 Her viral video was part of the #MarchForOurLives social media campaign created by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students after seventeen of their classmates died in the 2018 Valentine’s Day school shooting. Forty days later, some two million people marched in Washington, D.C., and 763 other locations to demand stricter gun control laws.2 Nearly two centuries earlier, abolitionist editor Macaulay also wielded sarcasm in the pages of the Anti-Slavery Monthly Reporter to confront a foe even more formidable than the NRA—the proslavery establishment that ran the British Empire.3

Virtually every digital message made by twenty-first-century social movement media echoes strategies that Macaulay pioneered in the dense abolitionist magazine he launched in 1825. The world’s first transnational social movement periodical and voice of the world’s oldest social movement continues today as the London-based Anti-Slavery International’s Reporter magazine, making it since 1840 the longest continually published social justice journal in the world.4 Although scholars have showered attention upon social media’s role in facilitating activism since the Arab Spring briefly bloomed in 2010, the ← 1 | 2 → Anti-Slavery Monthly Reporter reminds us that social movement media did not originate online. Macaulay and his magazine exemplify myriad links among old and new forms of journalism for social justice, an ethic that avows that all human beings deserve equality, fairness, and dignity.

Social Justice Journalism argues that to better understand the evolution, impact, and future of digital social justice media, we need to understand their connections to a venerable print culture of dissent. Smart Mobs author Howard Rheingold’s observation that the Internet brings together “people who are able to act in concert even if they don’t know each other” could as easily apply to the abolitionist press.5 The Internet collapses time and space to exponentially expand opportunities for what Benedict Anderson famously described as “imagined communities,” but it is worth recalling that his groundbreaking work on how media can create a symbolic community is based on the invention of the newspaper.6 Just as publishing a newspaper was the first priority of past social movement organizations, creating a Twitter hashtag is often the first task of today’s social justice activists.

A social movement is “a collectivity acting with some continuity to promote or resist a change in the society or group of which it is a part,” as defined by Ralph H. Turner and Lewis M. Killian in the 1950s.7 John McCarthy and Mayer Zald in 1973 defined social movements as “voluntary collectives that people support in order to effect change in society.”8 A quarter century later, Sidney Tarrow characterized social movements as contentious “collective challenges, based on common purposes and social solidarities, in sustained interaction with elites, opponents, and authorities.”9 A social movement can be a force for good or evil, but this book examines only movements for social justice. White supremacy may be a social movement, but readers of Social Justice Journalism will not find a discussion of the Fiery Cross, a Ku Klux Klan newspaper in 1920s Indiana.10

This cultural history seeks to deepen and contextualize knowledge about digital activism by training the lens of social movement theory back on the nearly forgotten role of eight twentieth-century American social justice journals in effecting significant social change. The book also compares these periodicals to their counterparts online to illuminate links between print culture and digital media. The book deliberately conflates “social movement media” with newer and broader conceptions of “social justice journalism” to highlight changing definitions of journalism, an umbrella-term open to interpretation. Sociologists refer to social movement media to describe a wide range of “self-mediated” materials produced by social movement organizations to ← 2 | 3 → advocate for their cause. Social movement media matter because they are the “central battleground” on which movements, according to leading scholar William A. Gamson, define themselves and their issues as they challenge dominant institutions.11

One of those institutions is mainstream news media, which in the twentieth century worshiped at the altar of “objectivity” that has since been widely debunked as the subjective worldview of the overwhelmingly white, heterosexual, middle-class men who controlled news media.12 They rejected the open advocacy practiced by social movement media as unprofessional, although a new ethos of transparency is overtaking objectivity as journalism’s normative ideal. Historically, some of the nation’s most significant journalism has been produced by social justice movement media. After a mob lynched three friends of Ida Wells-Barnett, for example, the African American publisher of Memphis Free Speech documented terrorism against blacks across the South in the 1890s. Wells’s activist stance against lynching did not negate her investigation, which, to use Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel’s phrase, displayed the essence of journalism as “the discipline of verification.”13

Despite their advocacy, many social movement media fulfill what media scholars Charlie Beckett and Robin Mansell list as the essential functions of traditional journalism: to report, analyze, and comment, filter, edit, and disseminate.14 Further, the abolitionist press, the suffrage press, and the labor press all exemplified some of the profession’s highest ideals as expressed in the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics: “Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable. Give voice to the voiceless.”15 Unlike for-profit mainstream news media, social movement media publishers measure success not in circulation or advertising dollars but in effecting social change. Journalism historian Bob Ostertag observes that even some of the smallest, shortest-lived social movement journals have “played a critical role in the constant process of reinventing American society.”16 David Paul Nord’s classic study of how newspapers build communities, in fact, argues that William Lloyd Garrison’s fire-and-brimstone abolitionist newspaper, the Liberator, best embodied Alexander de Tocqueville’s vision of American newspapers as the lifeblood of the young democracy.17 Other examples include abolitionist Frederick Douglass’s North Star newspaper (1847–1851), the gay rights magazine the Advocate (1967–present), and the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” online multimedia report in 2018, “Toxic Coal Dust Coating Homes, Playgrounds, and Lungs.” ← 3 | 4 →

Social Justice Journalism—Disrupting the Information Model?

All three examples above also exemplify social justice journalism, a broader concept that began to gain traction among news media in the early twenty-first century. Dizzying new digital tools that facilitate collaborations between activists and journalists in what Jeff Jarvis terms “networked journalism” spurred a re-envisioning of journalism models.18 Adrienne Russell’s Journalism as Activism, for example, lauds a new “hybrid journalism” comprising a “news-media vanguard of political activists and innovative traditional reporters who are changing the way reporting the news works to serve the public interest.”19 Michela Ardizzoni uses “matrix activism” to explain the complex convergence of resistance enabled by digital technology that she asserts encompasses mainstream media, alternative media, social media, face-to-face communication, art, and performance.20 Globally, a new generation of digital reporters intentionally label themselves “media activists” instead of journalists even though they practice the craft by documenting oppression with their cell phones. Pioneering radical media scholar John D. H. Downing describes a “meld of legacy and digital media activism” that challenges conventional conceptions about journalism.21 Cultural scholar Barbie Zelizer states that journalism is inherently informed by social justice ideals. Many forms of journalism operate primarily from a critical impulse that, she writes, “draws from the oppositions and the disenfranchised. …”22 For that matter, she argues that definitions of journalism vary among interpretative communities: “The most recognizable terms—‘journalists’ and ‘journalism’—are often used as generalized labels for the broadest possible range of activities associated with news making and the people who engage in them.”23

The trend toward social justice journalism has links to such historical iterations as “civic journalism” (or “public journalism”), a popular movement in the 1990s that called for newspapers to drop their detachment, acknowledge themselves as members of the communities they cover, and use their forum to help solve problems they reported on. “Citizen journalism” (or “participation journalism”) gained traction in the early 1990s to describe acts of reporting, analyzing, and disseminating news by ordinary citizens as more people got connected to the Internet.24 Dan Gillmor traces citizen journalism back even farther to pamphleteer Tom Paine, whose self-mediated “Common Sense” persuaded American colonists in 1776 to declare their independence from their superpower Mother Country.25 Nellie Bly’s first-person “Ten Days in a ← 4 | 5 → Madhouse,” her undercover exposé of a women’s mental institution in 1887, presaged the “immersion journalism” (or “saturation journalism” or “participatory journalism”) of Barbara Ehrenreich’s foray into the world of the working poor, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America (2001).26 Hunter S. Thompson revved this genre into high gear with his “gonzo journalism,” the antithesis of detached reportage.27

Even if not specifically identified as its own genre, social justice journalism always has been woven into the larger field. In 2017, the Pulitzer Prizes unveiled a vast online archive called “Social Justice and Equality” to showcase the many winning works on this theme over its past century, including the New York World’s 1923 Public Service Award for articles exposing activities of the Ku Klux Klan, Howard Van Smith’s 1959 National Reporting Award for a Miami News series that exposed deplorable living conditions at a migrant labor camp, and the Seattle Times team’s 1997 Investigative Reporting Award for a series on widespread corruption and inequities in a federally sponsored housing program for Native Americans. The phrase began showing up in collegiate journalism programs in the early 2010s as educators scrambled to find new ways to prepare students for a radically transforming field.

One of the earliest offerings appears to be a 2011 course titled “Civic Journalism and Social Justice” at the University of Richmond. In 2013, American University’s School of Communication received a $300,000 grant to fund the Justice Project to teach students and community fellows how to produce “social justice journalism,” defined as in-depth reports on societal inequities and systemic abuses that “drive collective engagement and change on those issues.” The phrase was so new that a fellow who had spent his journalism career covering marginalized communities said he had not considered his reporting as social justice journalism until he was invited to apply to the project.28 Although the program ended in 2016, the school still plugs its master’s degree in journalism with the tagline, “Telling Stories to Compel Change.” Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism offers a specialization in Social Justice and Investigative Reporting that teaches students how to tell “stories of people who are disenfranchised, vulnerable or oppressed…” (although it does not mention advocacy).29 The University of California at Berkeley in 2016 introduced a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in “Journalism for Social Change,” described as “using solution-based journalism to drive social change.”30 The Aronson Awards for Social Justice Journalism & Cartooning with a Conscience, administered by Hunter College of the City University of New York, have championed social justice journalism since the ← 5 | 6 → 1990s. The 2017 winners included a St. Louis Post-Dispatch team that not only revealed the effects of toxic stress from violence and poverty on children in Ferguson, Missouri, but also offered resources to help families heal.

Environmental Health News, which won an Aronson Award for an in-depth investigation titled “Sacred Water: Environmental Justice in Indian Country,” is representative of the new breed of digital-native news outlets whose activism is organic to their journalism. VICE IMPACT, for example, boosts its reporting with an “Action Button” at the end of each story that readers can use to email, call, or tweet their representatives on issues, such as a story on how legal marijuana could revolutionize PTSD treatment for veterans. ProPublica, the Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative journalism digital news outlet, acknowledges it “has quite self-consciously measured its own success by the impact of its journalism, i.e. by the change and reform that journalism has spurred.”31 The independent nonprofit newsroom lists in its annual reports all tangible impacts spurred by its reporting, such as a flurry of bills that states passed in 2018 to address rising U.S. maternal death rates revealed in “Lost Mothers,” a joint ProPublica/National Public Radio investigative series.32 Back on campus, a College Media Review article promoting social justice journalism suggests several forms of activism that students might incorporate in their stories. One suggestion is to accompany stories with related online petitions for readers to sign,33 a tactic that demonstrates the ties between digital activism and the historical print culture of social justice journalism. Nineteenth-century abolitionist journals were full of petition forms and advice to readers on how to start and circulate them. Petitions remain a staple of virtual social movements, the process vastly sped up and simplified by online generators such as Change.org, which by October 2018 claimed 30,542 victories in 196 nations thanks to 253,874,085 petitioners around the world.34

The emerging model of journalism-activism mash-up has sparked introspection among professionals. On the heels of the March for Our Lives, an editor of the Stoneman Douglas student newspaper challenged the profession’s creed of objectivity, whose origins date back to the rise of the commercial penny press in the 1830s.35 “Journalism is a form of activism,” stated Rebecca Schneid, co-editor-in-chief of the Eagle Eye, on CNN’s Reliable Sources.36 Some legacy journalists disagreed, but a surprising number concurred. “Does anybody think that even the fairest and most diligent of investigative reporters wrote their horrifying stories hoping that nothing would change?” tweeted Matt Pearce of the Los Angeles Times.37 Supporters emphasized that social justice journalists revere facts and verification, differentiating their advocacy ← 6 | 7 → from the divisive braying of cable-TV political pundits who prize volume over veracity.38 Its emphasis on facts and documentation also distinguishes social justice journalism from propaganda, defined as biased or misleading information used to help or injure a particular cause or point of view. Propaganda does appear in some social movement media but also, according to “propaganda model” proponents Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman, in mainstream media.39

Social Justice Journalism refers to all forms of reportorial endeavors past and present that advocate positive social change as social justice journalism, whether they appear in Environmental Justice journal or in the New York Times. Just like legacy media professionals, social justice journalists use facts, storytelling, narrative, and emotion to engage readers.

An Amalgam of Sociology, Journalism History, and Media/Communication Studies

Social Justice Journalism aims to help fill a scholarly gap between sociology, journalism history, and media/communications studies of social justice journalism.40 Sociologists, for example, emphasize social movement activism but practically ignore movement media’s role in facilitating collective action.41 Downing notes the field’s “splendidly self-confident neglect of communication and media as integral dimensions of social movements.”42 Communications scholars who study social movement rhetoric concentrate on performance or protests.43 Communications and media studies that do address social movement media fixate on social media such as Twitter or digital activism such as culture jamming.44 Russell’s history of the rise of online “networked journalism” between 1990 and 2010, for example, barely acknowledges the existence of myriad social movements’ dynamic print cultures.45 In contrast, journalism historians delve into old social movement periodicals but generally follow a narrative approach that minimizes theoretical analysis. They treat social movement periodicals as discrete segments of a broader and vaguer “alternative press,” “dissident press,” or “alternative media” that obscures their central role in social change.46 Scholars of digital activism have adopted the latter term, although even Alternative Media author Joshua Atkinson concedes it is “slippery.”47 The alternative-media label further clouds discussion of social justice journalism because beyond periodicals it encompasses a galaxy of texts including songs, murals, virtual sit-ins, street theatre, and even clothing, like ← 7 | 8 → the sea of pink pussy hats displayed during the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, D.C., and hundreds of other cities.48

This study takes a cultural approach to explore the history of a single but significant star amid that media galaxy: twentieth-century social justice movement newspapers and magazines and the precedents they set for activists that migrated online in the new millennium. It uses cultural historical research methods, a loosely defined qualitative approach that involves close readings of cultural texts such as books, periodicals, and imagery to explore representations and the struggle over meaning that is at the heart of social justice journalism.49 The book argues that while the Internet exponentially expands and speeds social justice movements’ short-term ability to communicate and coordinate collective action, the five basic functions of social movement media remain much the same in 2019 as they did when Macaulay’s Anti-Slavery Monthly Reporter debuted on June 30, 1825: (1) recruit members; (2) inform and educate their audience; (3) build and sustain a collective identity; (4) engage and counter mainstream media; and (5) mobilize collective action.

The study highlights how social movement periodicals used or transformed traditional journalism tools to fulfill those five functions. Before leaping back to the twentieth century, however, a few definitions and a brief discussion of the theoretical foundations guiding this inquiry may prove useful. The following sections address why social justice movements create their own media, explain framing theory and the importance of collective action frames, discuss the role of narrative and storytelling in journalism, and consider how both social movements and journalists employ emotion. The Introduction concludes with a brief overview of the nine chapters and conclusion that follow.

Social Movements and Mainstream Media

Numerous scholars across disciplines have demonstrated how mainstream news media historically have ignored, demonized, or denigrated social movements50 and distorted their messages.51 An example is Todd Gitlin’s conclusion in his classic study of New Left politics that 1960s activists were “trivialized, polarized, marginalized and disparaged” by mainstream media.52 Noted journalism historian Michael Schudson concurs: “The press is presumably the bastion of free expression in a democracy, but too often it has been one of the institutions that limits the range of expression, especially expression that ← 8 | 9 → is critical of leading centers of power in society.”53 Communication scholars Robert Hackett and William Carroll attribute “media’s democratic deficit” to its failure to create a true “public sphere.” As conceived by philosopher Jürgen Habermas, the public sphere is the dynamic space between the state and its citizens where a free exchange of ideas from all sectors identifies the “public will” that is elemental to real democracy.54 Because mainstream media decline to give their ideas a fair hearing in the public sphere, social movements going back to the nineteenth-century abolitionists have created their own media to frame their issues.

Framing Theory

Since the 1980s, social movement scholars have treated framing as the central dynamic in the struggle over meaning between social movements and dominant powers.55 Frames are sets of beliefs that “assign meaning to and interpret relevant events and conditions in ways that are intended to mobilize potential adherent and constituents, to garner bystander support, and to demobilize antagonists,” according to David A. Snow and Robert D. Benford.56 Editors choose words, story and image placement, headline sizes, rhetorical devices, and sources that when combined frame movement issues and events. These “media packages” give meaning to media messages, according to Gamson and Andre Modigliani.57 Framing theory has proven effective in numerous media studies.58 Bart Cammaerts defines social movement media framing as “strategic attempts to fix meaning, to establish ideological boundaries and to construct a ‘we’ that is juxtaposed to a ‘them.’”59 Framing is integral to creating the collective identity—that “we” versus “them”—that is fundamental to building a social movement. Collective identity, states Doug McAdams, comprises “the shared meanings and cultural understandings that people bring to any instance of potential mobilization.”60 “How successfully groups frame their identities for the public thus affects their ability to recruit members and supporters, gain a public hearing, make alliances with other groups, and defuse opposition,” assert Francesca Polletta and James M. Jasper.61 The framing process is dynamic and never-ending.

Framing remains fundamental for understanding social movement dynamics despite reconsiderations of social movement theory in the digital era.62 Lance W. Bennett and Alexandra Segerberg posit a “logic of connective action” in which collective identity is not a prerequisite of what they ← 9 | 10 → call “connective action” online. They claim individuals identify with a social movement by adapting its ideology to their personal beliefs.63 Others scholars, however, maintain collective identity remains integral even if its nature is transformed by social media.64 Cammaert’s study of Britain’s Twitter-fueled anti-austerity movement even found more collective action frames than connective action frames: he found online discourse often evolved into offline collective action.65 He argues that digital social movement media continue to fit into Gamson’s categorization of collective action frames: they construct collective identities and ideological enemies, create solutions to problems, and issue calls to action.

Collective action frames suggest not just that “something can be done, but that we can do something,” as Gamson put it.66 He categorized them into injustice frames, identity frames, and agency frames: Injustice frames describe an injury as a wrong perpetrated by some identifiable actor against others. Identity frames shape an adversary based on differences in interests and values, creating an “us” versus “them.” Agency frames describe actions that can be taken to solve the problem if the aggrieved act collectively.67

Emotions in Social Movement Frames

Early framing theory focused almost solely on cognition and ignored the role emotions play in meaning making. As more scholars began to view social movements through a cultural lens, they began to acknowledge the role of emotion in framing.68 Gamson indirectly referenced emotion when he stated that injustice frames depend on “the righteous anger that puts fire in the belly and iron in the soul.” He described injustice as “a hot cognition, not merely an abstract intellectual judgment. …”69 Jeff Goodwin, Jasper, and Polletta returned emotions to the center of social movements studies by the end of the twentieth century.70 Jasper believes emotions infuse every aspect of social movements, influencing the recruitment, motivation, strategy, and sustenance of participants.71 “It is hard to think of activities and relationships that are more overtly emotional than those associated with political protest and resistance,” conclude Goodwin and associates.72 The ring of authenticity in Reporter accounts engaged readers’ emotion, for example, because they enabled the audience to experience the slave’s mistreatment at a deeply emotional level. ← 10 | 11 →


XIV, 308
ISBN (Softcover)
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2019 (August)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2019. XIV, 308 pp.

Biographical notes

Linda J. Lumsden (Author)

Linda J. Lumsden teaches journalism history at The University of Arizona. She is the author of Black, White, and Red All Over: A Cultural History of the Radical Press in Its Heyday, 1900-1917 (2014); INEZ: The Life and Times of Inez Milholland (2004); and Rampant Women: Suffragists and the Right of Assembly (1996). A 2012-2013 Fulbright Scholar in Malaysia, she holds a Ph.D. in mass communication from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Title: Social Justice Journalism
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