Types of Repression: Media Narratives

Another way that the state can repress movements is by using media and spreading specific narratives that divide people within the movement or try to destroy public support for a movement. A common practice is to work with news media to create stories or narratives that legitimize certain groups and kinds of actions as “good” and de-legitimize certain groups, kinds of actions or people as “bad”. The media will often use terms like “peaceful protestors” or “nonviolent” to imply that certain protesters are “good” and deserving of our attention and the change they are asking for while using terms “outside agitators” or “violent” to imply that other protesters are bad or damaging to the movement. 

This kind of narrative divides the movement up, destroys solidarity and can go a long way to disrupt or stop vibrant efforts for systematic change. When you are watching or listening to the news, pay attention to the language used to describe certain kinds of actions and groups struggling for change.  Notice if the narrative is attempting to divide or isolate certain groups or actions as illegitimate. If so, it is possible that this narrative is being used by the state to stop people from changing the status quo.  Talk to your friends, families and coworkers about these narratives and why they are problematic.