Monday, March 14, 2011

Behold the Power of the "Hot Story": Protests Across Michigan Highlight Snyder's Budget Cuts

Protesting Governor Snyder's budget is suddenly the thing to do here in the Michigan according to the media. We used to call this phenomena the "Cloning of the News". Now, it's tempting to call it "The AP is the Voice of God", because if they write it, the story gets out, especially when it comes to television. This is nothing new, but seeing the same headline over and over this morning made me laugh, so I thought I'd throw this together as a quick example of how one story can seen and heard everywhere across the state - if the AP picks it up. Check it out:

MLive/Booth Newspapers (AP): Michigan groups across state to protest Gov. Rick Snyder's budget cuts
WWJ Radio/TV (Detroit): Cross-State Protests Over Governor’s Proposed Budget
WJBK Fox (Detroit): Michigan Groups Plan to Protest Budget Cuts
WDIV (Detroit): Groups Plan Protest State Budget Cuts Monday
WEYI (Saginaw): Protesters in Saginaw to rally against Snyder's budget plan
WILX (Lansing): Groups Plan to Protest Governor Snyder's Budget Cuts
WLNS (Lansing): Michigan groups plan to protest gov.'s budget cuts
WLUC (Marquette): Budget protests downstate
WNEM (Saginaw): Groups Plan To Protest Governor's Budget Cuts
WZZM (Grand Rapids): Michigan groups plan to protest gov.'s budget cuts
WOOD (Grand Rapids): Groups to protest Snyder's budget cuts
WWMT (Kalamazoo): Michigan groups plan to protest gov.'s budget cuts
WWTV 9 & 10 News (Cadillac/North): Michigan groups plan to protest gov.'s budget cuts
WPBN (Traverse City/North): Budget protests downstate

The Press had a variation on Sunday:

Grand Rapids Press (Sunday): Progressives promise alternatives to Gov. Rick Snyder's budget in gatherings Monday

Michigan Radio is original, and focuses on the detail behind the protests without listing the when and where - but is still carries the headline:

Michigan Radio (NPR): Protests to continue at state Capitol

This is by no means all-inclusive. Some outlets are slower to the web than others, and I haven't tracked radio station sites simply because they don't tend to do original reporting - but you can bet that if they are reading off the AP feed for the short news breaks, this story is getting out there in a big way today. Some of the headlines on these websites are secondary, tucked under "state news" - but for the most part this is front and center everywhere.

Wisconsin has made protesting the "hot story". Tuesday and Wednesday in Lansing will probably get the most press after the fact, provided enough people show up. It will be interesting to see what kind of turnout they get down there. It may seem like Michigan is in a malaise compared to other places, but people tend to forget that we have been fighting big budget battles for the past decade - especially the past few years. We've had the protests, but the media wasn't as focused on them as they are now. Usually it was one story, in one outlet, and then gone - and you never heard about it.

It's getting to the point where maybe everyone should just schedule a "Come Yell at Your Legislator Day" every year. Make it an annual outing. Coordinate with other local groups and rent some buses. After all, Snyder wants cities and schools to consolidate services; protesting Republican policies might be a great place to start.