Communication and Media Associate Professor Gayane Torosyan, Ph.D., has published a paper in The Communication Review. The collaborative study, titled Social Media, Legacy Media and Gatekeeping: The Protest Paradigm in News of Ferguson and Charlottesville, investigates the site of intersection between legacy and social media, asking how the leading local newspapers invoked social media discourse within their coverage of the 2014 protests in Ferguson, MO, and 2017 events in Charlottesville, VA.

The authors explore how gatekeeping is manifested while the protest paradigm emerges in a new landscape of proliferating social media. Using thematic textual analysis, the study finds that the coverage of Charlottesville and Ferguson clearly relied on indulging the social media sphere in important ways. Common themes of social media as multipurpose platforms, as interfacing with law and order, and as reconciling material and digital modes culminating in social activism were revealed. The study shows that the protest paradigm that has long characterized legacy media’s coverage of social protest is not as “pure” as it may once have been, since the social media component is helping define the contours and content of legacy media’s landscape.

The Communication Review is a peer-reviewed academic journal covering a variety of aspects of media studies. It is published by England-based publisher Routledge. The journal bridges the fields of communications and media studies, including historical and feminist scholarship.

Free, online copies of the article are available for download for a limited time.