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THE ACCESS PARADOX: MEDIA ENVIRONMENT DIVERSITY AND COVERAGE OF ACTIVIST GROUPS IN JAPAN AND KOREA

  • Celeste L. Arrington
Abstract

To what extent is a diverse news media environment good for activists who seek attention for their cause? Scholars agree that activist groups depend on the media to reach policymakers and bystanders. Yet prior scholars have overlooked how factors that contribute to media environment diversity—including journalistic norms, market structures, outlets’ partisanship, and audiences’ news consumption habits—can have contradictory implications for activist groups. Disaggregating questions of gaining publicity from questions of the message and reach of coverage, this article shows that while pluralistic media environments are more accessible to activists, more homogeneous media environments help groups that manage to break into the mainstream news reach wider audiences with more coherent narratives. These findings challenge common assumptions about the news media in Japan and Korea. A paired comparison of hepatitis C-related activism in both countries demonstrates how the forces democratizing access to the media are paradoxically reducing the persuasive potential of publicity.

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