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Saturday, March 03, 2018

Why Did It Take Two Weeks for the Media to Report on the Parkland Students' Astroturfing?


From Ace:
"Can you believe these kids?" It’s been a recurring theme of the coverage of the Parkland school shooting: the remarkable effectiveness of the high school students who created a gun control organization in the wake of the massacre. 
In seemingly no time, the magical kids had organized events ranging from a national march to a mass school walkout, and they'd brought in a million dollars in donations from Oprah Winfrey and George Clooney. 
The Miami Herald credited their success to the school's stellar debate program. The Wall Street Journal said it was because they were born online, and organizing was instinctive. 
On February 28, BuzzFeed came out with the actual story: Rep. Debbie Wassermann Schultz aiding in the lobbying in Tallahassee, a teacher’s union organizing the buses that got the kids there, Michael Bloomberg's groups and the Women’s March working on the upcoming March For Our Lives, MoveOn.org doing social media promotion and (potentially) march logistics, and training for student activists provided by federally funded Planned Parenthood. 
The president of the American Federation of Teachers told BuzzFeed they're also behind the national school walkout, which journalists had previously assured the public was the sole work of a teenager. (I'd thought teachers were supposed to get kids into school, but maybe that’s just me.) 
In other words, the response was professionalized. That's not surprising, because this is what organization that gets results actually looks like. It's not a bunch of magical kids in somebody's living room. 
Nor is it surprising that the professionalization happened right off the bat. 
Broward County's teacher’s union is militant, and Rep. Ted Lieu stated on Twitter that his family knows Parkland student activist David Hogg's family, so there were plenty of opportunities for grown-ups with resources and skills to connect the kids. 
That's before you get to whether any of them had been involved in the Women’s March. According to BuzzFeed, Wassermann Schultz was running on day two. 
What’s striking about all this isn't the organization. If you start reading books about organizing, it's clear how it all works. But no journalist covering the story wrote about this stuff for two weeks. Instead, every story was about the Parkland kids being magically effective. 
On Twitter, I lost track of the number of bluechecks rhapsodizing over how effective the kids' organizational instincts were. But organizing isn’t instinctive. It's skilled work; you have to learn how to do it, and it takes really a lot of people. You don't just get a few magical kids who’re amazing and naturally good at it.
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