Governments are normally granted a privileged definitional role in news reporting of political issues and events. Although a number of empirical studies in a variety of policy areas support this premise, the ability of government sources to dominate and determine the tenor and tone of news coverage is particularly salient in the case of issues and events with contentious and uncertain causes and solutions. This paper offers an empirical analysis of mainstream press coverage of the 1997 Ontario teachers' strike, the largest collective action ever undertaken by teachers in North American history. Situated within the conceptual and empirical debates around the “primary definition” thesis, the study revisits the literature on strike news and draws some comparative and contrasting remarks on the role of media discourse in covering private and public sector strikes. While the study's empirical findings offer some support for the primary definer thesis, there appeared to be a disconnect between the media's critical framing and narrativization of the strike and public support for the government's position.

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Keywords Framing, Harris Government, Political Communication, Primary Definition, Strike News, Unions
Persistent URL
Journal Journalism Studies
Greenberg, J. (2004). Tories, teachers and the media politics of education reform: News discourse and the 1997 Ontario teachers’ strike. Journalism Studies, 5(3), 353–371. doi:10.1080/1461670042000246106