Fill In the Blanks

      11 Comments on Fill In the Blanks

Jeff Morosoff, Assistant Professor/Public Relations, Hofstra University

The Occupy Wall Street movement continues to pick up momentum around the world. But the protesters are increasingly facing the questions, “What do you stand for?” and “What do you want?” Good questions. Go to occupywallst.org and you’ll find this mission statement:

“OWS is fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations.The movement is inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Spain, Greece, Italy and the UK, and aims to expose how the richest 1% of people who are writing the rules of the global economy are imposing an agenda of neoliberalism and economic inequality that is foreclosing our future.”

So what do its supporters and participants want? The Tea Party, which despite denials of its members and supporters, is very much Occupy Wall Street’s first cousin and is easier to understand. Its mission statement on theteaparty.net reads:

“The Tea Party movement is a grassroots movement of millions of like-minded Americans from all backgrounds and political parties. Tea Party members share similar core principles supporting the United States Constitution as the Founders intended, such as: limited federal government, individual freedoms, personal responsibility, free markets, returning political power to the states and the people.

I would suggest that the Occupy Wall Street movement is like a press release in need of filling in the blanks. It has its boilerplate mission statement, its opinions within the quotes and its attention-getting events. What’s missing is its headline at the top of the page and call to action at the bottom. Its organizers and leaders have to fill in the blanks: “Occupy Wall Street Movement Leaders Demand ________,” and “The movement’s organizers will continue to protest until ________.” Until then, the questions remain unanswered.

Your thoughts?

11 thoughts on “Fill In the Blanks

  1. Nick Schweers

    Several weeks later, and I still can’t seem to escape this story in the news. Call me ignorant, but I am so tired of hearing about this in the news. While I believe the core group of organizers had great intentions when they began this protest, I am tired of seeing everyone jump on the “Occupy” bandwagon. We discussed in my class weeks ago how the protestors are not sending out a clear message. This is their main weakness. I am too distracted by all the Wall Street gimmicks I am seeing in the media. Maybe that’s the media’s fault, but you can bet I am not going there to see for myself. Props to those who are fighting for the right reasons. I am happy that people are trying to fight for the “average joe” like myself. But seriously, get it together.

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  2. Jahlisa

    Although I understand why they are protesting, I don’t agree with the
    protest. They are raising awareness all while trying to prove the point
    that the smallest percentage holds all the power. I get it. But protesting
    in hopes of what? Hopes of creating jobs? Lowering taxes? I do agree that
    there is power in numbers. For example, since Occupy Wall Street, has
    negatively impacted financial institutions. As a result of the protests,
    many people have closed out their accounts at major banks and brought their
    funds over to smaller credit unions. Although they have been somewhat
    effective I still think that they are unnecessary.

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  3. dhenni3

    Occupy Wall Street is gaining strength in numbers, but I agree I dont even think some of these protesters know what they are fighting for. In my other classes we have been disscussing the movement and the media attention, and when I see a news spot about the subject, the reporters almost fumble their words trying to explain the rallies. I found out the other day that Tampa had started their own “Occupy Tampa” and rallied infront of city hall. The result of it I’m not sure of, but considering I haven’t heard of any follow up… not so sure it was successful.

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  4. Aqlesia

    I think you’re right. I’ve been saying this from the beginning. What do these people want? I’m all for protests for the right reasons and I do think that this protest was initially backed by good ideology…BUT at the same time, the message of this movement lacks organization and cause. A protest without a platform is a waste of time and resources and has no chance of an end result. This whole thing just seems over-hyped and lacks value. I don’t think anything will get accomplished if these hostile protesters continue to get arrested, riot and cause a nuisance. One thing’s for sure, they’re definitely getting their moment in the spotlight by landing attractive covers for their clever signs. I guess that’s good PR?

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  5. alipr107

    In 105 we were talking about this movement and whether it is effective or not. The team running this movement in NY is highly organized. They have a huge following, speakers during the protest, and a tent with a team constantly updating their website and doing research. But the problem we discussed was that though they do have a very clear message on paper, they have not successfully framed their message for the MEDIA. The media coverage they are getting are fluff pieces like, “How will New Yorkers deal with the commute?” or “How will the protesters stay warm in the winter?” So even though they are getting coverage, it’s not the right kind. The media is having a hard time communicating to viewers on what the people on wall-street are trying to accomplish. Maybe if the protesters had better media training, and knew how to frame their message, then maybe they would be successful. Instead, it just looks like a bunch of hipsters trying to pose as advocates for the people like their parents did during the 60’s and 70’s.

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  6. AOkPR

    The first question that arose in my mind when I visited the Occupy Wall Street Protest two weekends ago was, “How many protests are here?” Signs read, “Too big to fail is too big to allow,” “Don’t tax the rich, we need money for buying politicians,” “We the people, not we the banks,” “I’m a human being not a commodity,” “Want to end corporate greed? Stop buying their lies. Stop buying their products,” “Think anarchy for peace,” “Petition for world peace,” and “Be the people.” Most of these messages have at least some connection to corporate greed, but their overall message is still vague. What does world peace necessarily have to do with taxation, what does taxation have to do with the banking process, what does the banking process have to do with consumerism? Sure, they all tie back to some form of government control, but unless you believe that thinking of anarchy will lead to peace, the combination of these signs simply don’t work.

    This past summer, I visited Spain and Italy and Greece and learned a lot about the Arab Spring that the OWS mission statement claims they got their inspiration from, and I can say for sure that OWS is nowhere near the level of sophistication as the uprisings they claim to be following. The uprisings in these other countries are targeted at specific politicians and specific policies. OWS is nowhere near that level of refinement; they need a unified demand and a call for government action before anything can (or should) be done in response to their protest.

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  7. Lauren Means

    Perhaps I’m simplifying it, but I thought the message behind Occupy Wall Street was the call for social and law reform. What was listed as the “boilerplate” in the original post was my idea of the movement’s mission statement. The disparity between the richest one percent of the United States and the rest of the country’s citizens is what I have heard cited as the movement’s call to arms.

    What I am surprised by is the number of organizations who are putting their strength behind the Occupy Wall Street movement. I initially thought that the protests were backed by young students who were stuck without jobs and in debt. Now companies are publicly pledging their loyalty to the movement.

    The public admiration of these companies for the movement puts the protests in a different light. A bunch of students, while effective, does not have the same punch as the backing of large corporations. The actions of the companies tell me that besides disgruntled students, citizens with jobs and with opportunities also want change in tax laws.

    Yesterday, I found out that Ben & Jerry’s expressed their admiration for the movement in an official press release. Their press release talks of the unemployment percent and the inequity between the classes. For a corporation such as Ben & Jerry’s to declare their loyalty to this movement, is amazing to me. In a week the protests could go bad and then the corporations that stood with the protesters will be given bad press. This bold step shows me how strongly change is wanted, or needed, in the U.S.

    [Ben & Jerry’s press release: http://www.benjerry.com/activism/occupy-movement/%5D

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  8. Thanishap

    I completely agree with the notion that occupy wall street needs to be more clear with their demands as well as defining the call of action they are looking for. Without specific demands, messages can be confusing. How can the government, businesses, and banks know what to do if there has been nothing stated . Also without a clear demand, it leaves room for the government to handle it on their terms removing the power from the people to the banks and big businesses .
    Another issue with occupy wallstreet that has just been corrected is everyone trying to add issues to the protest. It took weeks to even figure out what the protest was really about. I heard some notions on environment, jobs, and many other issues America is facing. Hopefully with this new pro bono PR they are receiving, the blanks can be filled in.

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  9. jillarchibald

    On Thursday a journalism professor of mine had the students go out in the field and write a story on Occupy Wall St. Earlier that day in my public speaking class the students said that they believed Occupy Wall St. had no true meaning behind it. They believed that the protest is merely a reason for young people to take to the streets and yell about something, anything. My angle behind my journalism story stemmed from my classmates’ opinions. I wanted to know if the college student body had any idea of the motives behind Occupy Wall St. The results? The student body knows of the movement, but they don’t know why. It seems as though the movement has a huge communication problem. There is no one central leader of the movement. There is no one to communicate a unified idea to the media and the public, and this movement is proof that professional communicators have a place in every aspect of society.

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  10. emily crist

    I think the problem with Occupy Wall Street is that there are too many people supporting it and participating that do not know what they are supporting. Within time, maybe even just a few weeks, the protests will likely weed out the people who are participating just because of the hype around it. The fact that the protestors are so passionate shows, I believe, that they will get their aim narrowed down, and hopefully be able to make some progress. I was walking in the city yesterday, around Penn Station, and as I emerged from the subway, the protesters were marching through the streets, and I think, on their way to Time Square. I think that they are starting to make a push already, but I agree, they need some PR help because they have a goal, but they don’t seem to be presenting how, in fact, they are planning to make changes, and thats a huge problem because many will dismiss it if they don’t understand what it is or how they plan to achieve it. The common OWS statement of “stop corporate greed” is so vague that it puts a lot of people off, especially those who want to support it, but don’t see enough explanation of the so called “mission statement.” Greed is an emotion and you can’t stop companies from wanting something. Sure, tax laws can be changed, but that is not all that people are asking for. So what do they want, and HOW do they plan to change it, exactly?

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  11. samwilbur

    I agree that Occupy Wall Street is missing something and that’s what is drawing most people’s criticism of it–What do you want? What is the point? These are the questions people are asking, and I’m not sure myself. I think their idea is to gain awareness and support against the “1% of rich people,” and with this support solutions will come. The thought process might be: Congress hasn’t been able to figure this out, so maybe we will be able to. It’s not exactly an easy issue, but maybe over time this young organized movement will gain a better and more concise mission statement and call to action.

    The Tea Party is similar in many ways, but I’m not sure its goals are easy to understand either. There have been polls taken where more people support Occupy Wall Street than the Tea Party and that the Tea Party is losing momentum and/or steam, not to say that this is necessarily true. Anyway, they haven’t come up with many solutions themselves. They want “our country back” and they want to renew “founding father principles,” but what does that really mean? I think it’s more lip service than anything and they haven’t offered many solutions which is the more important point–All I’ve seen or heard is less government and to get people out of office–but these aren’t specific details on how to fix this country or “get our country back,” whatever that means.

    Finally, I disagree with the Tea Party when it says that it’s a “grassroots movement.” It’s not. It might be my political bias showing through, but Fox News heavily promoted the Tea Party and arguably created it–organizing events with Glenn Beck and others. This was a media driven (the “alternative” to the “liberal media”) movement that picked up steam–it’s what might be called an “astroturf”–or artificial (turf) movement. However, The Wall Street protests seemed to have gained steam well before the media’s attention (which was then largely focused on the fact that they were all over downtown NYC disrupting a lot of activity). Thus, they have an opportunity–a chance to build on their “we are the 99% theme”–but they need a call to action and they need specific plans that more people can get behind. Then, perhaps they can have a real and legitimate influence on Washington.

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