Next week I travel to the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, where I’m honored to talk about how news media captured the essence of a story from my home-state: Oregon.
Here’s the story:
With no warning, dozens of armed citizens seized a wildlife refuge on 2 January 2016, and news writers clamored to a small Oregon town to report on the ersatz military stand-off.
How did the news media cover the story?
A team of graduate students from my university–Sara Galadari, Ben McLean and Charles Randolph–met with me for more than a year to consider how media framed the story: we then scoured the news pages to see what materialized.
Reporters assiduously covered the stand-off, which featured a band of ranchers and their brethren who took up arms (literally) and occupied a wildlife refuge that’s tucked away in a remote corner of Oregon.
Calling themselves a “militia,” the protesters used the stand-off as a platform to publicize their views that the US government unfairly restricts ranchers who want to use government-controlled lands for such activities as grazing cattle.
During my presentation I will share the students’ findings that the militia’s views took center stage: many prominent news sources gave voice to the protestors.
The New York Times gave the protesters a wide berth, quoting the militia’s leader (Ammon Buddy):
It is our goal to get the logger back to logging, to get the rancher back to ranching, to get the miner back to mining, the farmer back to farming — and to jump-start this economy in Harney County.
But the story misses the fact that the first settlers to the land weren’t loggers or ranchers or miners or farmers.
They were people indigenous to the area–who had lived there for literally thousands of years before being driven off, shot and emprisoned to make way for outsiders–such as Bundy’s family–who would then claim the land as theirs.
Local Indian tribes, however, tell a different story.
TO BE CONTINUED…