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Press protest and publics: the agency of publics in newspaper campaigns

Birks, Jen

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Campaign advocacy is a common but rarely researched practice in British tabloid journalism. Newspaper campaigns give an account of ‘public opinion’ to politicians, make explicit claims to speak for ‘the public’ and authentically represent them, and also address readers in an unconventional way in order to recruit their support. This article therefore examines the effect to which agency is attributed to readers and other publics in two such campaigns, and argues that publics were portrayed as active only in relation to the newspaper’s activity, and as primarily as reacting emotionally to the problem. The campaigning press promote themselves commercially and politically as quasi-representatives who challenge distant and ‘out of touch’ political representatives with the populist impulses of ‘public’ demands, but without enhancing the democratic process, or publics’ position within it.


Birks, J. (2010). Press protest and publics: the agency of publics in newspaper campaigns. Discourse and Communication, 4(1),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 1, 2009
Publication Date Feb 1, 2010
Deposit Date Jun 14, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jun 14, 2016
Journal Discourse and Communication
Print ISSN 1750-4813
Electronic ISSN 1750-4821
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 4
Issue 1
Keywords Newspapers, Campaigns, Publics, Agency, Citizenship
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Please acknowledge as follows: Birks, Jen, Press Protest and Publics: The Agency of Publics in Newspaper Campaigns, Discourse & Communication 4(1): 51-67, 2010, reproduced with permission of Sage.

This extract is taken from the author's original manuscript and has not been edited. The definitive, published, version of record is available here:


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