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Progressive Citizen Journalism Project:

Covering Tea Party Populism

As the idea of Citizen Journalism spreads, we at Political Research Associates are being asked more often about how we train our researchers and writers. The core of our training is derived from a course, "Strategic Research, Analysis and Reporting" taught at the Z Media Institute. In addition a number of researchers and journalists have given us advice and tips on how to make our research and investigative reporting better. To find out more, read the credits page.

Researching Tea Parties, Town Halls, & Right-Wing Populism

In many cases the folks in these movements are our neighbors; sometimes they are our relatives…maybe even our friends.

There tends to be more White people involved; and these folks are overwhelmingly conservative and usually vote Republican even if they describe themselves as “independent.” They tend to earn more than the average American. In most ways, however, the people attracted to the tea party movement reflect the background demographics of our society. Polling statistics are frequently abused by political spin doctors on both sides of the political sepctrum. It is true than on average supporters of the Tea Party movement tend to earn more income than the baseline demographic in the United States. However, that does not mean that all supporters of the Tea Party movement earn more income than thethe national average. So there are many working class supporters of the Tea Party movement, and based on anecdotal observation, at least some of them are members of labor unions.

Like many newly-created social movements, the Tea Party Movement is still in a process of developing its frames, narratives, and issue boundaries. Ideologically it is still in tension, with an awkward amalgam of ideological positions cobbled together from several preexisting formations on the political right.

Robert Reich explained the roots of the current wave of right-wing populism:

Make no mistake: Angry right-wing populism lurks just below the surface of the terrible American economy, ready to be launched not only at Obama but also at liberals, intellectuals, gays, blacks, Jews, the mainstream media, coastal elites, crypto-socialists, and any other potential target of paranoid opportunity. --Read the full essay

This training resource is designed to help you be a constructive and productive part of Progressive Citizen Journalists covering the Tea Party movement. The trainings are contained in three sections:

More Resources

Covering the Political Right

Civil Liberties & Repression

Progressive Strategies and Tactics

Democracy is a process, not a specific set of institutions

Democracy is a process that assumes
the majority of people,
over time,
given enough accurate information,
and the ability to participate
in a free and open public debate,
reach the right decisions to
preserve liberty,
extend equality, and
defend democracy.


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