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Lost in the Wilderness? Celebrity, Protest and the News


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Lester, L 2006 , 'Lost in the Wilderness? Celebrity, Protest and the News' , Journalism Studies, vol. 7, no. 6 , pp. 907-921 , doi: 10.1080/14616700600980686.

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The deployment of celebrities is a well-established practice in environmental politics, but does the involvement of actors, singers and comedians give environmentalists an edge in the battle for positive and ongoing news coverage or simply feed contemporary anxieties and debates about the state of the public sphere? This paper attempts to understand better the interaction between celebrity, protest and the news over time by asking how celebrity functions as a form of political protest, how celebrity protest relates to changing logics in news production, and how news access for non-elite political challengers gained via celebrity is negotiated and contested. The material presented here is based on an analysis of news coverage of the 35-year-long conflict over Tasmanian wilderness and interviews with journalists, activists and government/industry public relations specialists, and thus explores textual outcomes but also behind-the-scenes production dynamics and changing political/media contexts over time. The paper finds the media acting in complex and often contradictory ways as they struggle to retain control of the news agenda. It also argues that by attending to these empirical complexities and the changing dynamics over time of the celebrity-movement-media interaction, we are better equipped to address contemporary concerns about the state of the media as public sphere.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Lester, L
Keywords: celebrity; environmental protest; news access; political conflict; social movements; source-media relations
Journal or Publication Title: Journalism Studies
DOI / ID Number: 10.1080/14616700600980686
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